The United States of Joe Biden


By Boswell Hutson

Though it may be hard to believe, one of America’s most prolific politicians will be visiting central Illinois in the coming days. Vice President Joe Biden will be on campus Thursday in recognition of the Illinois Student Senate’s participation in the “It’s On Us” campaign, which aims to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

Visits from high-profile politicians are particularly rare around these parts. Illinois’ primary isn’t one of the earliest or most exciting, and when the general election comes, it doesn’t get much better. Illinois has voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1988, so presumably, there’s really not that much campaigning to be done here.

That being said, on Thursday the Champaign-Urbana area will be nationally politically relevant, even if only for a few hours. In honor of this, I think it’s time we take a look back at our vice president, and why he may have been the best vice president of all time. (That’s a hyperbole, but at least Joe Biden is a great time.)

The office of vice president isn’t very glitzy. OK, that’s not true ­— it’s the position for the person who is next in line to command the free world, arguably. But as far as actual political duties go, the vice president’s role is certainly a position that is more behind-the-scenes than anything else. With that being said, through his numerous good-natured gaffes and wonderful mixture of aloofness and preparedness, Joe Biden has been perhaps the most perfect man for a job that could use some spicing up.

Biden is the type of vice president any American should want — he speaks his mind, but does so in a hilarious and fairly non-offensive way. Who could forget the time he forgot the mic was on and called the passage of the Affordable Care Act a “big f—ing deal” on national television? Or the time he accidentally leaked the Obama administration’s support of same-sex marriage on national television before President Obama himself had a chance to announce it.

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These slip-ups are far from scandal-level, but rather inspire more laughs than anything else. Honestly, if my vice president isn’t on a diplomatic mission to save us from impending doom, I’d prefer him to appear to be human and fallible — a luxury that our president cannot afford.

Even with all of these comical flubs, Biden remains on his game. Remember the 2012 vice presidential debate against Paul Ryan? Biden absolutely destroyed Ryan, coining one of the greatest debate one-liners of all time.

When confronted by a slew of vicious attacks on defense spending from Ryan, Biden simply retorted: “With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey.” I don’t know about you, but “malarkey” is one of the best words I’ve ever heard since watching “Leave It to Beaver” on TV Land. Not to mention, the look on Ryan’s face was priceless. (The looks from Biden during the debate were pretty comical, as well.)

Please don’t get me wrong — while most of this column was written largely with a humorous slant, Biden has been a perfectly adequate vice president. Maybe he hasn’t done anything ground-breaking, but when it comes to the vice president, who really cares? His job is to be a figurehead; he had to give speeches and kiss babies, and for the past seven years. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from Pennsylvania Joe.

Even more so, though, he’s been the only vice president I could imagine wanting to have a beer with, and as an added bonus, he’s never even shot anyone in the face before. (Looking at you, Cheney.)

Maybe it’s too late for Joe Biden to run for president again, (he’ll be 73 in November) but a man can dream.

At the very least, I will look back on his time in office with a smile — not necessarily because of all the great things he accomplished, but because of his ability to be a political firebrand/goofball in a system perpetually run by boring old white dudes in suits.

So thanks, Joe. It’s been a fun two terms. Let me know if you want to grab a bite to eat while you’re in town. I’m sure you’ve got some good stories.

Boswell is a senior in LAS.

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