Biden’s Character Issues Reflect Poorly on Obama

Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice-presidential running mate. Obama probably thought that Biden, who’s served in the Senate since 1969, would counter Obama’s lack of experience. However, Biden’s character issues may reinforce the troubling perception that the public is gaining of Obama as a slippery, not-always-truthful political hack.

Obama has anointed himself the winner of the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, even though the nominating convention isn’t until next week. In order to secure the nomination at the convention, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes of the 4,233 delegates. According to Wikipedia, Obama has pledged delegate votes totaling 1,765½ votes (under the Democrats’ one-man, one vote policy, some delegates such as those from Florida and Michigan only get a half vote). Since 1,765½ is clearly more than half of 4,233 (do the math yourself if you don’t believe me), Obama has the nomination locked up and can now announce his selection of running mate.

Joe Biden, Obama’s choice of running mate, is a long-time member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He chaired the committee from 1987 to 1995. While chairman, Biden presided over two of the most contentious U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings in history: Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991. Biden voted against both Bork and Thomas. In particular, Biden’s role in the “borking” of Bork, a jurist highly qualified for Supreme Court, would seem to place Biden squarely in the position of a partisan Democrat and not the above-politics image that Obama has tried to cultivate.

In 1987, Biden ran as a Democratic presidential candidate. When the campaign began, Biden was considered a potentially strong candidate because of his soaring oratory and his high profile position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee during the Bork hearings. However, thanks to Democratic rival Michael Dukakis, the nation soon found out that Biden’s soaring oratory was based on plagiarized speeches.

In September 1987, Biden’s campaign ran into trouble when it was discovered that he had plagiarized speeches by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labor Party. The Dukakis campaign made a video showcasing how Biden was reading Kinnock’s speeches and distributed the video to news outlets. Dukakis later fired John Sasso, his campaign manager and long-time Chief of Staff, over the incident.

Within days of the Dukakis video being released, it was also discovered that, while a first year law student at Syracuse Law School, Biden had plagiarized a law review article in a class paper he wrote. Though the then-dean of the law school, as well as Biden’s former professor, played down the incident of plagiarism, they did find that Biden drew “chunks of heavy legal prose directly from” the article in question.

When questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school, Biden claimed to have graduated in the “top half” of his class. He actually graduated 76th in a class of 85. Apparently, Biden has the same problems with math that Obama does if he thinks 76th is in the top half of a class of 85. Biden explained that “my recollection of this was inaccurate.” His explanation is particularly ironic because Biden made the claim about being in the top half to illustrate to a questioner that “I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.” Apparently, Biden’s self-proclaimed high I.Q. has nothing to do with his inability to remember that he graduated 76th in a class of 85.

Biden also claimed falsely that had attended Syracuse law school on a full scholarship, the only member of his law class to do so. In fact, he attended on a half scholarship based on financial need. Biden also claimed that he had “graduated with three degrees from college.” He actually received a single degree from the University of Delaware with a double major.