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Joe Biden’s Redemption « The Washington Independent

Denver–He’s remained in the rafters, mingling with delegates, appearing on screen whenever a speaker mentions his name. But tonight Sen. Joe Biden will have center stage as he accepts his party’s nomination for the vice presidency of the United States.

In many ways it will be a truly redemptive moment for the scrappy kid from Scranton who takes the Amtrak home to Delaware each night after his duties in the Senate are done. Twenty one years ago a young Biden was forced out of his first race for president when it was revealed he’d plagiarized a speech by then-British Labour Party leader Neal Kinnock and had, during law school done the same with an article for the Law Review. Then, nearly 20 years later, Biden’s White House aspirations seemed all but finished when he told The New York Observer ,”I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” It was a comment that seemed to stop the Biden campaign before it could really start and before long he had become an afterthought as Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton fought it out for the nomination.

But now, Biden will stand before his fellow Democrats as the sidekick to that clean and nice-looking guy. Already he’s taken to the role of the vice-presidential slot–hammering his friend John McCain, bringing the punches and taking the body shots for Obama, who, while making his case to the American people, cannot be seen as running a reflexive campaign. As some commentators have pointed out, he’s an ideal choice for Obama–the Lyndon Johnson master of the Senate to Obama’s Jack Kennedy, or, as I recently wrote, the older adviser and guide of Alfred to the presumptive Democratic candidate’s Bruce Wayne. (And before you ask, I have seen “The Dark Knight” five times including on IMAX and go to sleep each night watching “Batman Begins”)

The question remains however, can Biden overcome himself in this race? In a lot of ways he’s a reporter’s dream. He speaks off the cuff, constantly sheds the prepared remarks and dwarfs Obama and verbal miscues. Or, by self-censoring himself will he stop being the Biden the Obama campaign needs? As he sorts those questions out, he should be truly grateful. By picking him for his ticket Obama has revived Biden’s national importance. Now it’s up to Biden to reward Obama’s faith.

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