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It was the first time I understood the accuracy of the phrase “media firestorm.” I was besieged by press — and after consultation with an astonished boss — decided to simply just not say a word. Biden was not so lucky. He was the dead center of this frenzy and the pressure was building rapidly. The San Jose Mercury had discovered what I had known without any help from me. Now there were stories that Biden had plagiarized in law school and exaggerated his academic record. Lesley Stahl over at CBS had jumped on this, along with the rest of the networks. Biden was captured on tape snapping at a New Hampshire Democrat about his superior IQ. The attention on Judge Bork suddenly shifted to the besieged chairman. Democrats were stunned, furious with both Biden and each other. The Dukakis campaign was briefly under siege, the aide who leaked the original Kinnock video personally axed by Dukakis, summarily convicted of a “dirty trick.” The White House was suspected of some deep, dark plot. A plot that didn’t exist because, of course, it only involved my being, as described by Dowd, “ticked” at the notion of Biden masquerading as Bobby Kennedy. In the Biden campaign, there was chaos.
Seven days later, Joe Biden ended his campaign for president, quite publicly humiliated.
IN TRUTH, I felt somewhat disturbed at what I had done. While I thought there was some sort of fairness here — Biden had actually done what I said he had done and it had been initially denied — certainly I wasn’t about trying to destroy the guy’s life. This was, and is, a man who on a personal level is very well liked and respected by those who have spent any time around him. I’ve often wondered what he learned from the episode. Later, he suffered from a brain aneurysm and attributed his survival to the fact that he had been forced out of the presidential race.
But as time moved on, here’s what I took from the experience. I think it’s relevant now that Senator Biden is Senator Barack Obama’s vice-presidential choice.p>In all the coming days and weeks and months of look-backs the media will give us about Joe Biden’s life, how many will touch on the substance of the speech I caught him lifting from Bobby Kennedy? What, in fact, did RFK say that Biden thought was so important? Here are excerpts from two RFK speeches that Biden tried to say were his own: br> /p>
“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”br> Today, these are the sentiments not of the left but of the right. They are what we would call today “values issues” and they have long since been abandoned by Democrats. In hindsight, it is no accident that Ronald Reagan carried the California governor’s race in 1966 by a million-vote landslide. Reagan won by getting votes from the same Democrats who, two years later, would give a victory to Robert Kennedy in the California Democrats’ 1968 presidential primary over the New Left’s Eugene McCarthy. The great departure from the principles of JFK and RFK (and Truman and FDR) by the rising elites of the Democratic Party — elites like Joe Biden and later Barack Obama — had begun. The “Reagan Democrat” had been born.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history. But each of us can work to change a small portion of those events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”
WHY IS IT THAT the audience at the Saddleback church so vigorously applauded Senator McCain when he unambiguously responded to Pastor Rick Warren’s question about abortion by saying life begins at conception? It is because McCain touched on the very core of precisely what RFK was talking about — a value issue about “the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.” Which is to say, the value of life itself for the most vulnerable among us, children. One cannot imagine the very Catholic Bobby Kennedy responding to the same question from Warren with Obama’s detached shrugging as he says of a child’s life that “it’s above my pay grade.” Much less can one imagine RFK essentially endorsing infanticide as Obama did while an Illinois state senator. Biden, of course, takes Obama’s side here — and like the losing John Kerry of 2004 he is also a Catholic.
To reread RFK’s value issue call to focus on “the strength of our marriages” is a reminder that it is the Obama-Biden Democrats who insist on court-ordered opposition to those same marriages between a man and a woman, fervently working in state after state to deny any attempt by voters to express their choices on the issue. Does anyone really see a care for the value issue of what RFK called “the intelligence of our public debate” in the gutter politics of MoveOn.org or the Daily Kos, two of the stalwarts of the Obama movement? How about respect for the value issue of “devotion to our country” as evidenced in the words of Obama’s Senate colleague from Illinois, Dick Durbin? It is Durbin, you will recall, who compared American soldiers to Nazis.
Senator Biden is, as we hopefully all are, a different person in the world of 2008 than he was as a much younger man twenty years ago. Yet he in fact has played a key role in moving the Democrats away from precisely the values issues that had inspired so many young people when Bobby Kennedy was giving those value-laden speeches as he was running for president, myself included. Biden’s presence on the Obama ticket should, correctly understood, be seen as exactly one of the reasons that the eventual 1988 nominee for the Democrats, Governor Dukakis, lost in a landslide to Ronald Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush. It explains as well why a Catholic like 2004 Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry loses the Catholic vote to a born-again Methodist like George W. Bush, or why the voters of Tennessee turned on their own Al Gore, costing him the White House in 2000. Or why even the ever charming Bill Clinton could only manage a 49% win against a decidedly lackluster Bob Dole in 1996.
Biden, it seemed all those years ago to his critics in both parties, was repeating the speeches of others because he didn’t really have any ideas of his own. Now, after a lengthy thirty-plus years in the Senate, he has finally been given the green light to serve on a national Democratic ticket. Without doubt, that green-light comes because he has given the impression that when push comes to shove, he agrees with the spirit of the post-Kennedy 1968 Democrats of Obama and the left-wing values that have led so many Democratic presidential tickets down to defeat. Value issues that Robert Kennedy once spoke of with such passion that an impressionable young Senator Joe Biden took the words and tried to say they were his own.
He was really good at giving those speeches.
Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan White House political director and author, writes from Pennsylvania.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online