How Joe Biden Got His Foreign Policy Experience

In what the White House billed as a major address on foreign policy last week, Vice President Joe Biden questioned the foreign policy credentials of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. He mocked Romney for once saying that the American people don’t choose their president based on foreign policy experience — a point that candidate Barack Obama proved beyond doubt in 2008.

Since Biden raised the topic, however, it’s worth asking how the man who came up with the idea of dividing Iraq into three autonomous states (remember that idea?) got his own foreign policy experience. To Biden’s credit, he answered the question, as only he could, in the beginning of his speech.

I want to just state parenthetically that you know I ran — not you know, but I ran for the United States Senate when I was 28 years old, and no one in my family on my dad’s side had ever been involved in public life. And as one of my colleagues said, I’m the first United States Senator I ever knew.

And I ran at the time because I thought the policy we had in Vietnam, I didn’t argue it as immoral, but I thought it just didn’t make sense, the notion of dominoes and so on and so forth.

And I came to Washington as a 29-year-old kid. I got elected. Before I was eligible to serve, I had to literally wait to be sworn in because I wasn’t eligible under the Constitution. You must be 30 years old. And my image of the military commanders at the time was, if you ever saw that old movie, if you ever rented it, where Slim Pickens is on the back of an atom bomb, dropping out of an aircraft, yelling, Yippe, Kiyay. (Laughter.) And “Dr. Strangelove” was the movie.