Why I'm in Iowa

Crossposted from Daily Kos.

I've been in Iowa for a week, doing whatever it takes to win Iowa and the Democratic Nomination for Senator Joe Biden. As everybody here at BlueNC knows, I believe in Joe.

I'm beyond talking about Chuck Grassley and Tom Carper's Bankruptcy Bill, or the Clarence Thomas hearings that were cut short by Anita Hill's team. I'm beyond pedantic enucleations of back-door bureaucratic negotiations. I'm way beyond Hillary bashing. I'm not even asking for money. Instead, I'm going to tell you a story that in some ways goes back to a young college student in his small town's only diner, and in other ways goes back to a young man growing up in Delaware. Hopefully, you will indulge me as I go back in to my past, our past, and Joe Biden's past with some of my recollections and a few quotes that help tell the story. To those enamored with brevity, I apologize for the commodious topics covered in this diary. I think it's a rewarding read, but it's not for the faint of heart. Perhaps it will tell you more about a great Democratic Senator and a little about ourselves. And so it begins ...

I have to say that in spite of whom you or I supports in the presidential race, we are all blessed or lucky to have the opportunity to be political, in spite of the terrible things political activism can lead to. I am infinitely fortunate to have had the freedom to be politically active for almost as long as I can remember. Luckily, so was Joe Biden.

While young Joe learned politics at his family's kitchen table in Scranton, PA, I grew up during the birth of the 24-hour news cycle. When I was barely in elementary school, I followed the Gulf War in the way kids do. However, in addition to having my Stormin' Norman Desert Storm Trading Card, I had a chart of the deaths from each of the countries, with civilian and military causalities. For someone too young to appreciate the value of life, I still was very happy when the soldiers came home and happy that we didn't have to stay. To this day, I don't know if it was as simple as it seemed back then, but compared to the complexities of marching into Baghdad most things seem simple. And yet, the sins of the son have been visited upon the father.

Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome. - George H.W. Bush, A World Transformed

Soon after our first and only victory in Iraq, I moved to a new school after my father lost his job to the aftershocks of Reaganomics and a bankrupt employer. I lost all of my friends, I traveled from North to South, I went from a real classroom to a "learning cottage" (read: trailer), and I went from smart and extroverted to smart and very shy. Though I wouldn't know it for a few years, I had a lot in common with a young Joe Biden, who was shy due to a bad habit of stuttering. Somehow, we both ended up retreating to Irish poets; Biden to stop his stuttering, me because my Irish grandfather brought the culture from the Soulard neighborhood of my birthplace, St. Louis.

After "overcoming shyness," I "campaigned" for Clinton in our class elections in elementary school in 1992. Not because of what my parents thought, but because of what I felt naturally (and in no small part because of the sax). I would spend my early years debating with my Republican/Libertarian soccer coach; saying things like "taxes are an investment in a better future" came naturally, without having to be learned. We had epic battles, summoning the words and deeds of Gingrich and Clinton as we fought during long van rides across North Carolina. I lived a mostly middle-class life while attending public school and learning the Catechism on Wednesday and Sunday. Like Joe, whose current wife is a Presbyterian, I attended both a Protestant Service and a Catholic Mass every Sunday (Catholic Mom, PCUSA Dad). Some Catholic ideas - the value of life, the notion that wars must be just, etc. - appealed to me, though I must say I had an immature, à la carte approach to the whole thing.

Meanwhile, other experiences informed my budding socio-political compass. I learned about gay rights from an employee controversy at my school - in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, an employee must accept a promotion or resign, and it seemed as if a gay employee - one who was a great friend and mentor - was "promoted" due to ulterior motives. I learned about nuclear weapons (from M.A.D. to C.R.T.) from debate camps and physics class. I learned about civil rights and education when local parents led an effort to overturn a landmark civil rights case (the Supreme Court's pro-busing decision in 1970's Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education) ... and won. One year, it seemed like I went to school board meetings as often as I went to soccer practice.

Nevertheless, my political beacon turned on during the presidential candidacy of George W. Bush. Before I read a wonderful column on Bush by Al Franken in an October 2000 Rolling Stone, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter came to my town as an anti-death penalty advocate. Even after a college experience that included debating the merits of magnet programs with Cornel West and asking Paul Krugman if Bush's economists really believed in the policies they promoted, Carter's lecture remains my favorite. He spoke with power and conviction about his personal story - if you're unaware, he spent 20 years in jail as an innocent man. In spite of what Carter went through, it seemed as if America was becoming more just; then again, W. for President 2000 was just starting out, and as I became more involved in the fight against the death penalty I found out more and more about Bush's record as the Governor of Texas.

Bush's memory doesn't seem to serve him as well when it comes to people he's had executed. In July on ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts asked Bush about his statement from a March debate: "I'm absolutely confident that everybody has been put to death has two things: One, they're guilty of the crime charged; and secondly, they have full access to the courts." Roberts brought up the case of Odell Barnes, who had been executed the day before that debate. Roberts said that Barnes' lawyers had obtained information that called into question every bit of evidence that had been used to convict him. But Texas law had not allowed that new evidence to be heard by a court. How did this square with Bush's statement?

"Well, I don't remember the specifics -- well, I don't remember the specifics. . . . I, you know, and -- and -- and I'm not castigating you now, I wish you would have given me a chance to bring the full dossier, so I could have discussed it in detail with you. . . ." My guess is that if you asked Bush the names of the last fifty-five people executed in Texas, he'd probably remember only Karla Faye Tucker, whose pleas for mercy he ridiculed in a Talk magazine story reported by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson: "'Please,' Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, 'don't kill me.'" - Al Franken for Rolling Stone

Quoting or saying any more would be pedantic at this point. We're done with Bush. The rats are leaving the Titanic, and in fourteen long months, Bush will finally vacate the White House. For many reasons, I think Joe Biden is the most apt replacement, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

There was never a point at which I thought about supporting W. Though a few Democrats and family members I knew may have crossed over to McCain in 2000 (but not today), Bush was the nominee. In spite of Gore's weaknesses, in spite of everything that may have been uninspiring about him that year, I was behind him 100% - even if my support didn't mean much in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC. But Gore came, technically won, and went.

Many of us cried about it. Many of us saw a hostile takeover by five members in a board room on 1st Street in Northeast Washington, DC. Many of us cried foul about it. I escaped into policy research, and collected three huge bins full of evidence and research on nuclear non-proliferation. I spent the summer researching the nuclear issue in a world with one invincible superpower ... and then everything changed. A year that started with the country splitting apart somehow saw us come back together again through flashes and noise that will echo throughout the rest of our lives. To say it was part of my story seems to marginalize it somehow - 2001 was a year that few Americans escaped. We all felt like heroes, even the clowns.

It's cliché and selfish to tell people where you were on 9-11, so I won't go into details except to say that I was in physics class with some of my best friends. The first words out of my mouth were "This changes everything." I think I was the first person to say something after we turned on the TVs, as instructed by the front office.

The twenty years we’ve been here in New York City, we’ve worked closely with police officers and the fire fighters and fortunately, most of us don’t really have to think too much about what these men and women do on a daily basis, and the phrase New York’s finest and New York’s bravest, you know, did it mean anything to us personally, firsthand? Well, maybe, hopefully, but probably not. But boy, it means something now, doesn’t it? They put themselves in harm’s way to protect people like us, and the men and women, the fire fighters and the police department who are lost are going to be missed by this city for a very, very long time. And I, and my hope for myself and everybody else, not only in New York but everywhere, is that we never, ever take these people for granted... absolutely never take them for granted.

I just want to go through this, and again, forgive me if this is more for me than it is for people watching, I’m sorry, but uh, I just, I have to go through this, I’m...

The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead, and they weren’t doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. As I understand it (and my understanding of this is vague at best), another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we’re told that they were zealots, fueled by religious fervor... religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any Goddamned sense? Whew.

I’ll tell you about a thing that happened last night. There’s a town in Montana by the name of Choteau. It’s about a hundred miles south of the Canadian border. And I know a little something about this town. It’s 1,600 people. 1,600 people. And it’s an ag-business community, which means farming and ranching. And Montana’s been in the middle of a drought for... I don’t know... three years? And if you’ve got no rain, you can’t grow anything. And if you can’t grow anything, you can’t farm, and if you can’t grow anything, you can’t ranch, because the cattle don’t have anything to eat, and that’s the way life is in a small town. 1,600 people.

Last night at the high school auditorium in Choteau, Montana, they had a rally, home of the Bulldogs, by the way... they had a rally for New York City. And not just a rally for New York City, but a rally to raise money... to raise money for New York City. And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the... the spirit of the United States, then I can’t help you. I’m sorry. - David Letterman, The Late Show, September 17, 2001

The greatest tragedy of the Bush Presidency may be our missed opportunity to unite the world through peace. Foreign policy has always been my touchstone for evaluating leaders, and while Bush's behavior in Kyoto (along with many other foreign policy foibles) foreshadowed the coming disaster, we hoped and prayed that Bush was uniting us to overcome a perfect storm. Instead, he was fomenting one. We've blogged and lamented about the storm. We've had our hearts broken and our optimism foiled by Hurricane George. But some of us have come together in spite of Bush (or, in a backwards way, because of him).

2003 was the first time I used the Internet as an organizing tool. My now-defunct website, antiwarstudents.com, had a simple task - organizing a March 5th protest against the upcoming war in Iraq. We ended up having one of the biggest protests in our area, and the only student protest. We received major press coverage without any "No Blood for Oil" or "Free Mumia" signs, and we articulated a good message to the people of Metro Charlotte - still, we were headed to war.

"I get a really broad perspective. That doesn't make me an expert, but it means I'm not going purely on emotion. I also think that when a population abdicates judgment to so-called "experts", they're abdicating their right to democracy." - David Byrne on the Iraq War, 2003

"Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock, we blend in with the crowd;
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that ain't allowed;
We dress like students, we dress like housewives, or in a suit and a tie;
(I) changed my hairstyle, so many times now, I don't know what I look like!" -David Byrne with Talking Heads, "Life During Wartime," Fear of Music, 1979

The massive failure of policy-makers and so-called experts during the march to war made me very interested in finding out about the specific policy failures, and it made me very cynical about politics. Researching the Iraq War and Occupation after-the-fact was what first introduced me to Joe Biden. In addition to probing the differences between the Biden-Lugar resolution (disarmament) and the actual Iraq War Resolution from Rep. Hastert (occupation), I learned about Joe's earlier work to curb presidential power. Most people here are aware of the "War Powers Act," but in 1995 Biden introduced the "Use of Force Act" which would have curbed the aggressive use of force by the executive. Because of Bush's warmongering with Iran, I wish the bill would have made it out of committee Hell, but I digress.

Biden impressed me with his grasp of the dangers of the unitary executive. I also knew from the language and intent of the Biden-Lugar resolution that in spite of Biden's war vote - a vote I completely disagreed with - Joe Biden would not have gone to war in March of 2003. Biden wouldn't have gone to war because he wouldn't have had the respect and support of the rest of the world - something the Biden-Lugar resolution mandated. I was very sad to learn later on from a Daschle staffer that two heroes of mine - Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold - voted against the Biden-Lugar resolution; though I understand voting against all resolutions that could cause war, it was clear to most observers that Bush, despicably, was going to get some sort of movement on Iraq. Biden-Lugar, at least, would have provided a credible alternative to war. Unfortunately, when Joe Lieberman and a few other turncoat Democrats appeared in the Rose Garden with Bush to support the Hastert resolution, Biden-Lugar sank and all was lost.

In the 2004 primary, I was a weak Edwards supporter in spite of the fact that he cosponsored the Hastert resolution. I had some home-state pride and I appreciated his populism. I never really got on the Dean or Clark trains, and I was frustrated with the political process. I ended up investing myself in non-profit work: tutoring at-risk children, being a straight ally at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center, and doing canvassing with PIRG. My interest in PIRG flagged as raising money during the long summer days took more out of me than I expected, so I started volunteering with former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, our Democratic candidate in North Carolina.

Sam and Erskine

Bowles, the man behind Clinton's balanced budget, was a warm guy, an excellent debater, impossibly intelligent; rich like Edwards but unpretentious like Tester. It was a great campaign sunk by Kerry/Edwards/National Mood and a terrible mistake of a commercial (I'd explain, but I'm going for flashes of brevity). It was the first (and last) time I ever shed a tear for a political a loss. It didn't help that we still didn't know about Kerry and Ohio when Bowles conceded defeat to Big-Pharma-Friend Richard Burr, and to make matters worse I had to drive a volunteer three hours to the airport, so I missed the chance to drown my sorrows at the open bar.

That loss stung even more the next year as I was an intern in Senator Biden's office, watching Senator Burr preside over the Bolton nomination or watching Canadian drug companies convince Burr that the 2005 energy bill needed a provision that decreased American nuclear security. But yet again, I precede myself.

During the Kerry campaign, I began talking about politics again in a little place called The Soda Shop on Main Street in Davidson, NC. I befriended a blogger/writer and retired Hill/House staffer who was covering Plamegate with a focus on the lack of integrity on the part of Judith Miller and other reporters. We'd talk shop, and we'd talk about people I could work with in politics. Biden came up as someone my friend had admired since 1972 ... and someone who would allow me to pursue my interest in foreign relations. I applied for internships with Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bill Clinton's post-presidential office, and Sen. Obama's hill office. I won the former two, and accepted both.

Aside from the short, amazing few hours I spent with our former President, the internship in Biden's office surprised me as one of the best experiences of my life. I started the internship on my birthday, and had the rare opportunity to visit many of the intergovernmental organizations with offices in DC, from the UN to the World Bank to the Organization of American States to the Inter American Development Bank ... and so on. I studied the upcoming German Bundestag elections using my rudimentary German language skills - in my final memo, I predicted a close election between Merkel and Schroeder but I did not predict the Grand Coalition. I experienced the good and the bad of globalization, but most of all I experienced its perceived inevitability. I ran into senators; I intimidated Rick Santorum into giving me an elevator; on the reverse, Ted Kennedy trapped me in an elevator the second day of my tenure as I was too afraid to ask him to step aside to let me get off at my floor. For giggles, here's some fan service from my diary:

May 24th - I couldn't sleep last night, and my hostel is terrible. I was rooming with three nice people, but the bed is too small, the room way too warm, and when I woke up I was late because the showers don't work! One just didn't have water pressure, and all the others (on all the other floors) only had two temperatures: "scalding" and "excoriating."

So I got outside at 7:50 am, and had to take a cab to make it to work on time. Then it rained on me, though not as bad as it did at the end of the day. Joe Lieberman stuck his butt in my face at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, and then I fell asleep. I have to admit, something aside from assuming the rear-end-right-of-way gives me the creeps about Loserman.

I saw Iraq from every angle. I went back and forth between wanting a withdraw, wanting us to restore stability and essential utilities, and wanting Iraq to work. And I started running in to the Senator, the Boss, Mr. Biden. I liked what we were doing on the FR Committee, but I wasn't a fan of his vote on the Bankruptcy bill, though I never rested responsibility on Biden; our Democratic leadership should have been able to beat Grassley's bill. Plus, I found it odd that Biden was called a sell-out or (D-MBNA) when he didn't have anything to show for it ... but then again, I promised no apologetics, just a sketch of the man I've supported over the last three years.

Quite frankly, some of the more vicious attacks on Biden engendered feelings of empathy within me. The Biden I saw learned our names, gave the time of day to anyone who asked, commuted home daily to be with his family, didn't wear the $10,000 suits I would see on Bill Clinton later that year, talked straight, and walked the line. He doesn't drink, and he never cowered from his beliefs. If Biden were on the take, or if he were a true Beltway insider, he'd find a way to be higher than 99th on the richest Senator list. He's never met with a lobbyist, and he eschewed investments in stocks to avoid conflicts of interest. On Father's Day, 2005, after taping a segment at the CBS studio around the corner from my apartment, I was chatting with the Boss when I saw a yearning in his eyes, an intense desire to go home and spend time with his kids. That look almost knocked me down. I told him he should quit talking to me, he thanked me, and we parted ways. That moment did a lot for my opinion of Joe Biden.

I was planning to ask him about the Bankruptcy Bill at our intern Q&A with the Senator, but I talked to my writer friend from home about it before I committed to that question. He told me that there was no utility in asking a Senator why he voted for something that looked like it helped his state when I had the chance to pick the brain of one of the world's top foreign policy experts. Either way, I never got to ask a question, but I did hear more straight answers than I expected. It was almost as impressive as a reception the Senator hosted early on in the summer, at which diplomats representing most of Europe came to honor one of Biden's staff members who worked on a NATO portfolio but was now retiring. At a time when Bush turned the world into a place where you were either us, Poland, or against us, the respect that these ambassadors had for Senator Biden amazed me. I was able to talk with a few of the ambassadors and representatives, and they described an admiration for Senator Biden built on a his knowledge of the intricacies of American-European policy and the relationships he has built and maintained over the years. After seeing Biden in action like that, I couldn't imagine him as anything but the next President of these United States.

To me, nothing is like walking into our nation's Capitol building. You feel the power of luminous dreams flowing in and out of neo-classical marble. You feel that if you had to die for these dreams, you could, and the world would be at peace. I wrote the following as part of an internship evaluation; it became more of a rumination over the tribulations of an idealist in that former muskeg we call our capital:

I actually forgot why I was there for a while. Then, on Thursday, something reminded me. I was in the White House, which didn’t impress me at all until I arrived at that famous portrait of John F. Kennedy. It’s the only real work of art in the entire building, and it spoke to me that day. I looked at it and saw the nervous outline and solemn expression on our thirty-fifth president, the dark shadow on one side of his face, the presidential suit and feel, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the “Kennedy promise,” that intangible thing that this man had that gave an entire generation hope. The notion that we had this person or idea that would finally bring real change to our country – helping the least of our people, making our country a place to envy morally – and that this person, and his brother, and Dr. King were all taken from us far too early.

I looked at that picture and I did something I don’t do often: I cried. I remembered that I was in Washington because I believed in a dream deferred too long. I wasn’t there because of my resume, my credits, or my diploma; I came to feel as if I was doing something to make our country and world a better place, even if I was just preparing myself to do something along those lines. I looked at a man who ended up giving everything for his country, and asked my self what I could do.

I went on to do community service work at the UN, in the office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. I continued to expand my view of the world, and I looked to a future of public service. That fall, I worked on a local school board campaign and planted the seeds to follow in Biden's footsteps, running for county commissioner as a twenty-something.

Filing at BOE

While my focus thus far reached far beyond my town of 8,100 or my county commission district of 100,000, I had to pay attention to the changing landscape in my own backyard. Higher property values and gentrification were forcing socio-economic homogeneity onto my home of 13 years. The debate over where to build new schools allowed the local GOP to freeze the county's education system into a stasis devoid of progressive policy decisions. Out of control development put an unfair tax burden on our citizens, forcing the middle class out of Mecklenburg County. The same growth ran rampant, razing ranches for roads. Local Democrats were afraid to talk about impact fees (a.k.a. assessment fees), land transfer taxes, and other measures to curb development and grow responsibly. So I filed to run for county commissioner, ran a clean campaign that I was proud of, set the tone of the debate for the entire year, and raised awareness and strong public support for impact fees. I was defeated in the primary by a eleven-year town commissioner, though I lost by only 159 votes (55% to 45%).

Ever since, I've been taking the lessons I learned from that campaign to the streets as a democratic activist. I started blogging. I started talking about what I believed, and I became an organizer. I hooked up with team Kissell in the latter half of 2006, and I think almost everyone here knows that story ...

So, as a progressive, as a liberal, as a blogger - why am I supporting Joe Biden? Aside from the mild similarities, the amazing experience in his office, Irish-Catholic verisimilitude, and the like? Why not Obama, who shares both my experience as an organizer and who channels the "Kennedy thing" that touched me that day in the White House?

Well, it's not because I'm being pragmatic. Biden doesn't have the fame or the media coverage he had 20 years ago, even though he could destroy any of those Republicans in a general election. (and it's my firm belief that at least 5 in our top 6 would wipe the floor with the GOP in 2008). And sure, much of it is because I'm a foreign policy wonk who thinks that any United States President at this critical a moment in world history has to be qualified to be Secretary of State as well. We've experienced eight years of what "experts" and "consultants" can do for a foreign policy. Part of my support has to do with the fact that, in 2002, Biden had the second best tack on the war of our top 6 presidential candidates. I won't speak for other candidates, but I know a President Biden would not have gone to war with Iraq (if you don't believe me, research the Biden-Lugar IWR). I've seen his diplomatic finesse at work, and I believe.

Really, that's what it comes down to for all of us. We fight over candidates because for those of us that are die-hard supporters, we believe in our choice. It's not a rational choice. It's not usually a logical thing, it's a primal thing. It's a connection. Deep down, I think we know that most of the Democratic candidates have the potential to be great presidents, but we believe in our pick. I didn't feel that in 2004, I didn't understand some of the faithful Dean supporters in South Carolina in 2004, but I feel it now.

I believe in Joe Biden because he's a straight-talker. I think many of us - especially myself - can appreciate the infrequent lapses in tact that come with honesty. He doesn't have to promise me things he probably won't be able to deliver to give me hope. I believe in Joe because he's the best of both worlds to me - experienced, but not a D.C. resident for life. He grew up middle class, he experienced unimaginable hardships, and he's not nearly as wealthy as he should be at his station. He's been chairman of two illustrious Senate committees, but he's never met with a lobbyist. I believe in Joe because I've grown up, and it takes more than a saxophone and shades to impress me. I believe in Joe because he's made the sacrifices for his family that my family has had to make as my grandfather, grandmother and great-grandmother got sick and passed away over the last decade.

I believe in Joe because he acts like a man and stands up for his character and his loved ones - when he failed in 1988, he took the blame, he packed up and left Iowa gracefully, he survived a near-death experience and he became a better person. When he messed up at the beginning of this year, he took responsibility, learned from the mistake, and became a much better candidate because of it. More than any other candidate, he's the opposite of Dubya - instead of being a blue blood that pretends to be a normal guy, he's a normal guy that has to act like a senator. Instead of acting smarter than he is, you know he dumbs it down for the Sunday morning pedantry of MTP, FTN, and others. He builds character, he takes responsibility without putting out fifty press releases about it, he learns from his mistakes, and he knows how to make our friends around the world care about us again.

I believe in Joe because of all the times he's ended up being right (a few of the Democratic contenders seem to agree with me, though that's purely tongue-in-cheek). He was right on Iran, I believe that he's right on Iraqi federalism, he was right with Biden-Lugar, he was right when he put 100,000 cops on the street and supported community policing programs, and his belief in the 50-State Strategy reaffirms my belief in him.

I don't know what's going to happen with the next presidency. I'm not sure how big the grassroots movements for things like universal health care and fair trade are going to have to be so that the right representatives get elected to congress. I'm not sure what kind of leadership that's going to take, or if a president, alone, can make such big decisions for the entire Congress and the entire nation. Some things are too big for any person. I am sure, however, that Joe Biden would be able to reunite our countrymen and our allies around a sober, responsible, but courageous foreign policy. I believe a President Biden could build the political capital needed to pass progressive domestic reforms at home while growing our economy by exporting green technologies to neighbors like China and India that globalization draws ever closer. With Joe in the White House, I believe my grassroots side will have the freedom to pursue change. I believe that when I walk into the Capitol after the win, I will be in awe of an inspiring twain - our hallowed government and the power for change I can yield within it.

[The Senate] felt like a sacred place when I got there, and I've never lost that feeling. Thirty-five years later I still get goose bumps when I come out of Union Station and see the Capitol dome. - Joe Biden, Promises to Keep

I admit, I could be wrong about much of that. As I said, to a large part our presidential picks are predicated on passion more than reason, gut feelings as much as or more than good policy (though my confidence in Biden's ability to build an interdependent peace is as based in reason as it is in passion). So in light of that, without pretension, I believe in Joe Biden most of all because we see the same Washington. We see the same potential in Americans in spite of our flawed humanity and in spite of our flawed selves. Though Biden could get away with being arrogant if he wanted to, I wish I had his humility and his interpersonal acumen, though I don't think I could pay the price he paid for it.

Our presidential picks are our paladins, but they all fall short. Joe admits when he is lacking, and because of that he is able to be my standard-bearer. He is a choice that reconciles my persistent pragmatism with my long-shot idealism. I'm working for him now, so this is GBCW until he either wins the Presidency or bows out of the race (if we're doing something really cool in the field, I'll come back and mention it). Many of us are putting our hearts and souls into the months ahead; now that I understand myself and my choice, I know that we can come together and laugh about it when this is all over.

May Peace be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.

Sam and Biden at Cooney's
Happy Holidays from Sam and Joe!


Thanks Sam!

What a wonderful report! Thanks for taking time to do this.

(I need to read it again before I start dissecting it : ))

Thanks for the Rec ;-)

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

I was an early backer of Joe Biden....

When he first announced his candidacy, Biden was first on my short list, and I sent a small donation to his campaign. His confederation plan for Iraq was, and probably still is the only viable plan for a political settlement. But since the start, he fell into the trap most of them have, by trying to straddle the fence on many topics. I believe, at least for 2008, the American people will go for the bold, plain speaking friend to the working people. Right now, I would put Biden about 2 or 3 on my list, with Edwards on top. JE has been learning to be more of the attack dog that he needs to be, and I think it will take him all the way. However, Joe Biden did make points with his statement of being against the 'Peru' free trade bill, while Obama and Clinton voted for that crap. They are doing the bidding of the 'big corporations', and are not listening. That will cost them!

Well said Sam

Well reasoned as well Sam. I like Joe Biden too. I think he would make a fine President. When I hear the word "service", he is the first politician that comes to mind. I remember him during an interview earlier this year. He cracked me up telling the audience his net worth was a little over 100k and made reference to not being able to get too big of a head because his wife would just laugh at him.


Joe Biden is the best choice by far

Great to see this diary at the top of BlueNC, Sam. I think more of the NC progressive community needs to see and read your post because Biden doesn't get a fair shake here (nor does he most places, for that matter).

Campaign Manager
Al Swanstrom for NC House

Great read, Sam

Gotta love Joe Biden, and gotta love Sam Spencer. Thanks for taking the time to write this article for us, Sam. A great read at the end of a long day.

Biden '08


I agree with you wholeheartedly and join you in supporting Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for President.

I'm not sure exactly when I "turned on" to Biden. I was a "soft" Clinton supporter at the beginning of the year. I won't speak negatively about any of the other candidates here. I'll just say I was looking for someone who could govern from day one of being in the Oval Office and had the ability to work with Congress, the Pentagon, and the executive agencies in correcting the wrongs that have been done during the tenure of the 43rd President of the United States. That requires experience and pragmatism.

Maybe it was watching Sen. Biden on one of the Sunday shows (don't have to miss church, just download the Meet the Press podcast from iTunes!). Most likely it was when Sen. Biden pushed through his plan for Iraq through the Senate. I was an officer in the U.S. Army who voluntarily deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. Sen. Biden was/is the only candidate who, besides just speaking about the war, actually did something about it. I remember checking out his campaign website for the first time and reading his plan. It made sense. It showed a statesman with experience, vision, and pragmatism for a difficult situation with few options.

It sounds almost corny to use the term, but Sen. Biden does have "straight talk." Even though it's almost a drinking game for everytime he says "listen, folks..." or "ladies and gentlemen," when he speaks, he says what he thinks. He's thought about the issues he talks about, he has passion, and it isn't just a set of glittering generalities, but filled with real-life solutions, not pie-in-the-sky promises. He does flub every now and then when he speaks, but, again, it's b/c he's speaking his mind. It may sound silly to say, but he's the only candidate who could be the next Jed Bartlet.

Listen to him during the debates. Watch his YouTube clips. I got a chance to listen in on a conference call he did from Iowa about vets issues. He's the only candidate to get generally angry about this issue, what he calls the "sacred obligation" that this country has to veterans. Maybe it's his passion, maybe it's the fact that his son, the Attorney General of Delaware, is set to deploy to Iraq next year with the National Guard, I don't know. But he imparts all the anger, frustration, and passion we all feel about the issue.

His narrative, of which he seems generally reluctant to share, is one of being tested and proving himself. A middle-class guy, working in elected politics, elected to the Senate at 29 and then immediately faced with the death of his wife and a child. Something like that would take most people down. But he continued to serve.

Sam, I wish I could come and help you in Iowa or New Hampshire, but I'm a full time student. So thanks for your work and keep it up. I wish I could donate more money, but I'm living off my Montgomery G.I. Bill, so I can't. I suppose all I can do is spread the message, get a bumper sticker, and maybe write a letter to the editor. I'm just fearful that the media, not necessarily from a bad intent, have elected "their" candidates, giving them the debate time and free media time.

Just keep up the work, Sam, and keep on believing. And let's help our fellow Democrats nominate the 44th President of the United States, Joseph Biden.

Thanks a bunch

I hope you've joined Veterans for Biden ... we have a lot of great vets in the office who are keeping us in line in Iowa ... though, thankfully, they're not waking us up for PT or anything.

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Come on Sam..

Biden, really?

I'm guessing you didn't read it.

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

An artist in stretching our language.. Good post Sam.

We all benefit from your taking the time to articulate Biden's motivations in his life. Your efforts are worthwhile.

Normally I do not take to much time reading about Biden, but I find it difficult not to read your thoughts and perspective.. Thanks.

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

I respect your commitment.

And, I am glad that you are living out the dream. Even if I don't agree with your choice of candidate, and I hope that you will push people to choose Edwards as their second choice, I really am happy to see you out and about in Iowa.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.