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You da Bomb, Joe!

The Role of Character in Public Office

You Da Bomb, Joe!
by Michael Goodell
After listening to a second-hand anecdote involving Vice President Joe Biden, a semi-private dining room, a tipsy woman describing a glass of wine as “da bomb,” and some tightly wound Secret Service agents, I wondered aloud if, should I ever meet the man, I would have the courage to say, “Hey Joe, you’ve come pretty far for the son of a Welsh coal miner.”
Referring, of course, to 1988 when then Presidential candidate Biden appropriated British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock’s stump speech as his own. This was not a simple matter of failing to attribute a quote, Biden actually stole Kinnock’s biography. Needless to say, Biden’s campaign vanished faster than those insurance plans his current boss promised you could keep.
Stealing another politician’s go-to speech is wrong on so many levels. It is stupid, for one thing. It is also arrogant, a display of contempt for the public, a reflection of the belief that the people are too stupid to catch on. Most significantly, it demonstrates that the man has no character.
So it’s not surprising Biden’s bid was immolated. What is surprising is thirty years later not only was the man still a sitting Senator, but he was deemed worthy of the office of vice president. Even more amazing, his selection was hailed by many as lending “gravitas” to the untested Democratic Party standard bearer.
There should be no statute of limitations of poor character. Once manifested, that person should be rendered unfit for public office. Stealing another man’s speech shows no character. Bimbo eruptions? No character. Driving your car off a bridge and leaving a young woman to drown, should result if not in a prison sentence, then certainly not in reelection. And definitely, that cur should never have been eulogized as “the Conscience of the Senate.”
This is not a partisan issue. George H. W. Bush should have resigned after vomiting in the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap. Make all the excuses you want, but when he “committed Bushusuru,” he brought shame to his nation and disgrace to the office. He should have resigned. Mark Sanford rightfully deserved to be hounded from office after Appalachian Affair. He never should have been elected again. Again, there should be no statute of limitations of character issues. The good people of South Carolina displayed all the judgment and discretion of ghetto dwellers when they sent the “mad hiker” to Congress.
At a time when elected officials enjoy the same level of public respect as trial attorneys, carjackers and those guys wearing matching jerseys who ride their bikes four abreast on busy highways, it is surprising how little emphasis the electorate places on character. If we continue to elect and reelect men and women who by voice and deed demonstrate they have no character, then why should we be surprised when they put their petty interests above those of the people they were elected to serve?

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