Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption
by Jules Witcover
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is Joe Biden's biography by a sympathetic biographer (i.e., there's not much here bashing Biden, except "objective reporting" of tough issues). The framework is that Biden has lived through "a Life of Trial and Redemption"; in other words, that he has been tested at several key moments, and has flourished as a result. The "trials" are:
One might read the title as a double entendre, since the book also focuses on trials which Biden has conducted as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those include:
- 1973: Biden's biggest trial; his wife and child were killed in a car crash after Biden's first election to the Senate. He considered not entering the Senate at all (pp. 98 & 492)
- 1988: Biden suffered an intercranial aneurysm (a kind of stroke that could be fatal). He attributes his survival to having dropped out of the presidential race of 1988 (pp. 236-7)
- 1966 & 1987: Biden was accused of plagiarism at law school (pp. 41-2); then echoed that with an accusation of plagiarism in a presidential primary speech. (pp. 186-9). The book dedicates a whole chapter to the "Kinnock incident" (chapter 13).
The book also addresses numerous other controversial issues, in particular Biden's coming to realize that Bush had been deceptive about Iraq (p. 356), and that the Iraq War has diverted resources from the Afghan War (pp. 340-2). Biden supported both wars in the Senate; his ongoing apologies and explanations (as well as those of Hillary Clinton and others) were a major part of the 2008 presidential primary. They have since faded in importance, but are covered in detail in this book.
- 1991: The Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas (pp. 260-5), to which another whole chapter is dedicated to the Anita Hill accusation and Biden's handling of it (chapter 19)
- 1987: The rejected Supreme Court nomination of Robert Bork, over which Biden presided (pp. 199-200)
- 1974: Biden pushed for Nixon's resignation while looking for the "smoking gun" of Watergate (p. 118)
We can't say this book is a "must-read", but it's a solid analysis of Biden's history and provides enough insight that one can predict his future behavior too.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, Sept. 2011
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Clarence Thomas: 1991: There us a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment.
Clarence Thomas: 1991: Never thought about Roe v. Wade while in law school.
John Roberts: Constitutional privacy protection is only a so-called right.
Ted Kennedy: 1987: "Robert Bork's America" forces back alley abortions.
Budget & Economy|
Joe Biden: 1996: Accused of sweetheart deal on sale of personal home.
Joe Biden: 1976: Opposed school busing to combat segregation.
Joe Biden: Inalienable rights cannot be denied by any majority.
Joe Biden: 1970: DE Public not receiving needed police protection.
Joe Biden: 1990 crime bill: more police & tougher penalties.
Orrin Hatch: 1992: Supported COPS program and Violence Against Women Act.
Joe Biden: 1988: Crafted new law creating national Drug Czar.
Joe Biden: 1990 crime bill: tougher penalties for drug offenders.
Barbara Boxer: 1989: Dolphin-Safe Tuna bill, against ocean-sweeping nets.
Joe Biden: 1970s: Push to prohibit refineries, to protect state beaches.
Families & Children|
Joe Biden: 1991: VAWA is about civil rights, not divorce law.
William Rehnquist: 1991: Violence Against Women Act federalizes divorce law.
Joe Biden: 1986: Strict sanctions against South African apartheid.
Joe Biden: 1990: Predicted that Soviet Union would cease to exist.
Joe Biden: New World Order should not mean US fights for the UN.
Joe Biden: Nation-building can prevent full-scale military actions.
Joe Biden: First VP speech: Refute Bush's unilateralist foreign policy.
Joe Biden: Condemned 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.
Dick Cheney: Championed theory of "unitary executive" to expand power.
Joe Biden: 1973: Senators deserve more than $42,000 salary.
Joe Biden: 1987: Bork fight changed rules of nomination process.
Joe Biden: 1979: Met with Soviet leaders about SALT II Treaty.
Principles & Values|
Anthony Kennedy: 1987: No unitary theory of interpreting Constitution.
Barack Obama: OpEd: Jackson & Sharpton were articulate black predecessors.
Clarence Thomas: 1991: Accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.
Colin Powell: 2004: Cabinet exit meant loss to Cheney-Rumsfeld war theory.
Joe Biden: 1966: Required to retake law school course for plagiarism.
Joe Biden: 1973: Base Nixon's resignation on violations, not politics.
Joe Biden: 1987: Clarion call: rekindle fires of idealism.
Joe Biden: 1987: Anti-Bork most organized opposition to Court nominee.
Joe Biden: 1987: Accused of plagiarizing Neil Kinnock's speech.
Joe Biden: 1987: Heckled for exaggerating academic record.
Joe Biden: 2008: I would not be anyone's V.P. nor Secretary of State.
Joe Biden: 1973: Reconsidered priesthood after losing wife in car crash.
Richard Nixon: Eisenhower could not think of a major idea by V.P. Nixon.
Sarah Palin: 2008 V.P. debate sparked more curiosity than substance.
Sonia Sotomayor: Confirmed for Supreme Court by 58-31 vote.
War & Peace|
Bill Clinton: 1993: NATO air strikes on Serbs only with European support.
Colin Powell: Iraq Security Council speech is "worst blot" on my record.
George Bush Sr.: 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait: "This shall not stand!".
George W. Bush: 2002: Rejected bipartisan bill for more Afghanistan funding.
Joe Biden: 1971: Campaigned on wanting Vietnam War over.
Joe Biden: No vital interest in Kuwait in 1990; like Vietnam in 1972.
Joe Biden: 1990: One man deciding to go to war is tyranny.
Joe Biden: 1992: lift Bosnian arms embargo; NATO air strikes on Serbs.
Joe Biden: 9/11: Urged Bush to stay in public, like DeGaulle in WWII.
Joe Biden: 2002: Iraq pivots from unfinished business in Afghanistan.
Joe Biden: 2008: Afghanistan is forgotten war, & Pakistan is neglected.
Joe Biden: Not necessary to defeat Taliban; it's part of Afghan society.
Joe Biden: Enemy is Al Qaeda, not Taliban; timetable for withdrawal ok.
John McCain: 2008: No one has supported Bush in Iraq more than I have.
The above quotations are from Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption
by Jules Witcover.
Autobiographies for 2012 GOP primary candidates:
- No Apology, by Gov. Mitt Romney, Mar 2, 2010
- Real Change, by Speaker Newt Gingrich, Dec 18, 2007
- CEO of SELF, by Herman Cain, 2001
- Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption, by Jules Witcover, 2010
- Rick Santorum: A Senator Speaks Out on Life, Freedom, and Responsibility, 2005
- Michele Bachmann: Why She Will Win, by Ron Paul Jones, 2011
- A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney, by Hugh Hewitt
- Mitt Romney: The Man, His Values and His Vision, by Lisa Ray Turner and Kimberly Field
- Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, 2011
- Core of Conviction, by Rep. Michele Bachmann, 2011
- It Takes a Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, 2005
- On My Honor, by Gov. Rick Perry, 2008
- End The Fed, by Rep. Ron Paul, Sep 16, 2009
- Gold, Peace, and Prosperity: The Birth of a New Currency, by Ron Paul, 2007
- My Journey to the White House, by Herman Cain, 2011
Page last edited: Mar 29, 2013