|Marquee of the Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 9, 2017. (Photo by Mark C. Taylor)|
|Vice President Joe Biden in conversation with author John Green, December 9, 2017. (Photo by Mark C. Taylor)|
On December 9th, my wife and I heard Joe Biden speak at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis as part of his “American Promise” book tour. Author John Green moderated the evening, which basically meant that he asked Biden about five questions, and Joe just ran with them. Biden has been speaking to promote his new book, Promise Me, Dad, a memoir about the last year of his son Beau’s life, as he lost his battle with brain cancer. The book also examines Biden’s decision not to run for President in 2016.
I found it fascinating to hear Biden speak about his early days in the Senate. Shortly after his election in 1972, Biden’s family was in a car crash, and his wife and young daughter were killed. Biden seriously considered resigning, but was ultimately persuaded to take his Senate seat. While in the Senate, Biden had weekly meetings with majority leader Mike Mansfield, who would give Biden an assignment for the week. Biden said “It was a long time before I realized that nobody else in the Senate had weekly assignments,” meaning that Mansfield was using these meetings to mentor Biden and making sure that he was getting through these difficult days of grieving. One of Mansfield’s pieces of advice to Biden was, “You can question someone else’s judgement, but not their motive.” Politics in the United States would be more civil if people could follow that rule.
Hearing Biden speak in person was powerful, as he touched on many big issues—family, work and life balance, and government. Biden’s honesty and authenticity came across powerfully on stage. It’s clear that Biden’s beliefs come from deeply held core values that Biden has worked hard to maintain all his life. I came away even more impressed by Joe Biden. And one of my favorite moments was when he said of the Biden/Obama memes, "They're basically all true."