It’s a stereotype that too often proves true: politicians typically care about one thing and one thing only – themselves. While some of the nation’s most successful lawmakers come from humble beginnings, it seems all too easy to forget the humility they claim to have been raised with once they’ve reached the pinnacle of success. Yes, despite their toothy-grins and affable exterior, many politicians, including America’s favorite “zany uncle,” Joe Biden, may have less-than flattering personas behind closed doors.
In light of the revelation that the former Delaware senator leaked to the press that his dying son Beau’s last wish on earth was that his dad run again for president, the New York Post found it fitting to publish an excerpt from a 2013 book chronicling, among other things, how then-senator Joe Biden really treated the people around him – particularly those who worked tirelessly to elevate him to the position in which he finds himself today.
The excerpt, taken from George Packer’s The Unwinding, paints a grim picture of Biden as told through the eyes of Jeff Connaughton, a junior staffer on Biden’s first presidential campaign in 1987. (If some don’t recall Biden’s nearly 3-decade-old presidential bid, it might be because the senator dropped out of the race months before the primary after it was discovered that he plagiarized British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock during multiple stump speeches. Not just the man’s words, but rather, the man’s life.)
Though he’d met the senator nearly 10 years prior and slaved away as a member of staff, Biden could barely even remember Connaughton’s name nor could he recall how the two knew each other. Details about other people were inconsequential to Joe.
According to the book, Connaughton soon learned that all but those in the senator’s “inner ring” were safe from scorn, ridicule and dismissal. His nickname for male staffers who didn’t live up to his expectations? “Dumb f**k.”
But if you just worked your ass off for him for a few years, he ignored you, intimidated you, sometimes humiliated you, took no interest in your advancement, and never learned your name.
“Hey, Chief,” he’d say, or “How’s it going, Cap’n,” unless he was ticked at you, in which case he’d employ one of his favorite terms for male underlings: “dumb f–k.”
“Dumb f–k over here didn’t get me the briefing materials I needed.” It was both noun and adjective: “Is the event leader a Democrat or a Republican? Or are you too dumb f–k to know?”
Connaughton, who was tasked with the ignoble role of fundraiser for the Biden campaign, said the senator “resented any demands placed on him by the people who helped him raise money and the people who wrote checks.”
On the topic of Biden’s plagiarism, assuming the life of a descendant of coal miners was just one in a long line of the vice president’s misattributions:
As an isolated case, it would have been a story without legs. But having already brought down Hart, the media — Maureen Dowd and E.J. Dionne in the Times, Eleanor Clift in Newsweek — smelled another scandal and they competed to dig up other Biden faults: lines lifted from Hubert Humphrey and Robert F. Kennedy; a badly footnoted law-school essay that resulted in a failing grade; exaggerated claims about his past.
Even left-wing outlet Slate wrote that “Biden's misdeeds encompassed numerous self-aggrandizing thefts, misstatements, and exaggerations that seemed to point to a serious character defect.”
Biden, with his recurrent gaffes and “everyday Joe” demeanor, is often painted as Americas goofy-uncle. Sure, he says things that are at times offensive, but really he’s harmless and fun-loving. As Biden considers a bid for president in 2016, perhaps we ought to remember, he’s anything but.
(h/t: NY Post)