During a campaign speech in Boston today, the Associated Press reports that Vice Presidential candidate Senator Joseph Biden stated:
Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be Vice President of the United States. Let’s get that straight. She is qualified to be President of the United States of America. She is easily qualified to be Vice President of the United States of America, and quite frankly, might’ve been a better pick than me.”
Certainly this can be interpreted as a sort of gaffe; Biden is as famous for making these as he is for being a plagiarist.
Another way to interpret this statement however, is to simply take it as a face-value assessment by Biden of how he sees himself. He is at least sanguine enough to know that he is not the sharpest crayon in the Democrats’ box. What is more concerning however, is why he wants to be Vice President at all. If Biden does not feel that he is the best-qualified candidate available to be Vice President, why is he running for the post? Shouldn’t the second highest office in the land be occupied by someone who feels that they are the best choice for the job? It isn’t as though Biden had no job to go back to when his Presidential ambitions were stymied.
And that raises an intereseting point. At one time, and indeed on more than one occasion, Senator Biden thought that he was qualified to be President of the United States. Most recently, he ran for that post against Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. Thus one way to read Biden’s comments could be that Biden still thinks that he is the best-qualified candidate to be President, even if virtually no one else did.
What about another possible interpretation, perhaps one that is a bit more charitable? Can it be that Biden was so humbled by his experience campaigning, that he now thinks himself to be not even the best first choice for Vice President, let alone President? That hardly seems likely. Humility is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of Senator Biden.
Or is this statement a Freudian slip on Biden’s part, and thus more telling than any of the preceding possibile interpretations? Perhaps these are the words of a man who had his arm twisted by the DNC to be Obama’s running mate, the Lloyd Bentsen or Dick Cheney of the inexperienced Presidential candidate. It may be that Biden himself, who after all has managed to win re-election many times, was subtly questioning the wisdom of his new boss and of his party in not vetting Hillary Clinton for the post that has now fallen to him.
Time will tell, and fairly soon, what will happen with the respective campaigns. However, it does have to strike some concern in the Obama camp that their own number 2 is questioning the suitability of himself as candidate for that post ahead of more qualified alternatives. And in this case, over an alternative who was extremely popular and who many felt was treated badly both by her party and by Biden’s running mate.