Dear Vice President Biden,
It was on Christmas Day, I believe, a few years ago. A family member on active duty was at Walter Reed recovering from a severe injury. Some of my family decided to forgo gift exchanges amongst themselves and instead travel to Walter Reed to spend Christmas with our family member there, along with the other troops. It was a unique and wonderful experience in which the family received at least as much comfort as they brought. Unhappily, I was not able to be there, but I received regular updates from the folks, including the story of your visit to the hospital.
While I’m sure there was a divergence of political opinions in the room, I’m told everyone there sincerely appreciated you spending part of your Christmas with those who have given so much for us all. Indeed, they tell me that the common bond of having a family member on active duty made it seem more like a visit between military families than a visit from a sitting Vice President. And it is for that very reason, and out of respect for your son’s service, that I haven’t really leveled serious criticism toward you in the past.
As a retired military veteran, I respect what you did and felt that I had an additional insight into the kind of person you are. I separated Joe Biden the politician from Joe Biden the warm-hearted man who was kind enough to visit with my family during a difficult time. But in light of your outlandish and petulant demeanor in a serious debate of issues upon which rest the future of our children and grandchildren, I think a reassessment is in order.
Watching Congressman Ryan try to respectfully engage you in thoughtful discourse was like watching Emily Post try to take a gorilla to tea. You reminded me of people I’ve had the misfortune of trying to rationalize with in the past … people with whom I couldn’t fit an uninterrupted word in with a shoe horn, and with whom I eventually abandoned all hope of ever being able to complete a sentence. By the way, had you alerted the Guinness Book of World Records that you would be going for the highest number of interruptions within a 90-minute time frame? During the 40 minutes and 12 seconds that Ryan actually spoke, you interrupted him 82 times, for an average of one interruption every 29 seconds. If Hooters had a Boob of the Month calendar, you would have secured your place in it.
And if you weren’t jabbering like Gabby Hayes on ritalin while the Congressman was speaking, you were laughing at him. Was this meant to inspire confidence, or was it meant to distract the viewer from points that may have been injurious to your cause? Because whether the issue was Iran’s nuclear designs, our shoddy treatment of our ally Israel, our weakening national security, a lethargic economy, the tax and regulatory burden on the entrepreneurial class, or healthcare, when your opponent raised substantive issues, you responded with laughter and contempt. Your performance was, in short, an abominable affront to the very idea of civil conversation.
To my dilemma, then: Who is the real Joe Biden? Was it the gentle leader who took the hand of an injured service member and thanked him for his service? Or was it the clodhopping buffoon who galloped over another man’s words with nary a care for manners or substance? Was it the father of a veteran who spoke kindly to my family at Walter Reed? Or was it the unruly, overly animated, porcelain-veneered ass who did a disservice to the nation and his own office? Are you a good man who pretends to be a politician on the public stage, or a politician who pretends to be a good man in more private settings? Either way, it’s terribly disappointing, though I take subtle refuge in the fact that we have at least one thing in common. We both prefer Neil Kinnock’s words to yours. Meanwhile, as I look forward to a bit of laughter myself in November, I remain;