After announcing on Wednesday that he would not be running for president, Joe Biden was interviewed last night on 60 Minutes about his decision. There’s no new shocking information revealed, but Joe and his wife Jill do say a couple of things that should make us all a little disappointed that they aren’t vying to be the First Couple.
The first is the way that both Joe and Jill talk about their son Beau and his death in June.
Vice President Biden: Because it took that long for us to decide as a family. Look, dealing with the loss of Beau, any parent listening who’s lost a child, knows that you can’t— it doesn’t follow schedules of primaries and caucuses and contributors and the like. It just— you— and everybody grieves at a different pace.
Dr. Jill Biden: And we had such hope that, you know, that he was going to live. And so I think it really wasn’t until the day he died that we gave, well, I don’t think we ever gave up hope.
Given how openly Biden’s been about dealing with the death of his son, it’s not surprising that he’d also be open about how that loss has effected his political decisions. But it is refreshing to hear a couple be shamelessly optimistic in the face of an impending death. If that’s what’s required to be a successful politician, it’s not really surprising that more people don’t excel at it.
But the second was Biden’s openness about why he decided not to run.
Vice President Biden: Couldn’t win. I’ll be very blunt, if I thought we could’ve put together the campaign that our supporters deserve and our contributors deserved I’ll— I would have gone ahead and done it.
It would have been easy at this point to claim that he didn’t want to put his family through a campaign. That given the loss of his son, it was just too much for the family to bear in such a short period. But instead he fully acknowledges that it would be worth it if he thought he could win.
“Honesty” has become a weirdly cruel idea in politics. After a couple of decades of focus group tested statements and PR managed personas, people are looking for any form of sincerity in their politicians. That need for sincerity is also what’s turned this election cycle into more of a circus than any in recent memory. A circus filled with assholes and bullies who are spouting the most offensive nonsense they can think of under the guise of “being honest.” And while Joe Biden is a bit of a clown, he’s not an asshole.
So far we’ve got a candidate field that’s far too wide, and not nearly deep enough. I don’t know yet if Biden would have been qualified to be president or how successful I think he would have been if he’d been elected. But given his performance the past few months, I’m disappointed that we don’t get to see him try to prove himself.