Favorite Non-Fiction Books, #50: Promises to Keep
I noted yesterday that I'd have an early take on the Democratic presidential primary, including a potential candidacy by Vice President Joe Biden. Well, here it is. First, let me say that memoirs by active politicians barely qualify as non-fiction, something I mentioned when I profiled a Robert Reich book earlier. There's certainly a ton in Biden's volume that needs plenty of grains of salt. But there's also some undeniably true events in his life that are unimaginable for most of us. That he absorbed the tragedy of losing his wife and small children on the eve of taking his US Senate Seat at thirty years of age, that he translated that pain into a lifetime of service, has always staggered me. That he had to endure another such loss with the premature death of his son Beau a couple of years ago was heartbreaking.
And yet the man continues to smile and work, to exude and articulate an optimistic and inclusive vision for America. He is a deeply imperfect human being, one who has made plenty of mistakes and has often paid for them politically. This is the point at which I'll note that if you're waiting for a flawless soul to come and lead you, I hope you like waiting. And no, Bernie Sanders most definitely does not count.
I love the cavalcade of candidates we're seeing in this primary. Many of them would make swell standard bearers in 2020. I like Harris and Klobuchar, Booker and Castro, and the rest. All imperfect, but all engaging in the rough-and-tumble preliminaries to see who can connect with voters and raise money and go toe-to-toe with the plutocrat-in-chief. Personally, I think Biden would have won as the nominee in 2016. I believe he would have gone into Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania and spoken compellingly with the unemployed union workers and exposed Trump's con in plain language.
But that's a what if. Does it make sense for him to try it now? He has the most name recognition, durable favorability ratings, and likely the financial support needed. I'm not concerned about the age or gender issues, especially if he were to team with a veep like Harris or Gabbard or Klobuchar. I can envision a scenario in which Uncle Joe vows a single term to right the ship from the Trump misadventures and then exits stage left. But I'm also okay with him remaining in the wings, a elder statesman, maybe a cabinet member (UN ambassador, etc) to a young and fresh President.
Politics and personal preference aside, Joe Biden's story is one you should read.