Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

"Fightin' Joe" Biden leaves with his dignity intact

Joe Biden has decided against a presidential bid, and I'm glad for him.

He didn't really have a shot. He could have raised some money, but not enough to really compete. He could have appeared in debates, and more than hold his own. But the polling wasn't optimistic, putting together a top-notch organization would have been difficult and his own dithering raises the question of just how much he really wanted to go through with the whole thing.

As he said a while back, "“I’ve just got to be certain that if I do this, I’m able to look you in the eye and everyone else and say I’m giving all my passion, all my, all my energy and will not be distracted." In the end, he found he could not offer that assurance.

It's also true that Hillary Clinton left him no opening. Her strong debate performance cemented her status as the overwhelming favorite; the Republicans' Benghazi fixation is in the process of backfiring among everybody but their own base; and the American people aren't going to reject a qualified candidate for president because she chose to set up her own email system rather than rely on one provided by the government.

If that's the worse the Republicans go throw at her -- and apparently it is -- she'll do just fine.

Biden's speech announcing his decision was poignant and powerful. He spoke with conviction about the role of money in politics, noting that "the middle class will never have a fighting chance in this country as long as just several hundred families, the wealthiest families, control the process." He talked about the importance of education and opportunity for all Americans. And he talked with pride about his role in an administration that helped to bring the country back from the biggest economic crisis in 80 years.

"At their core, every one of these things — every one of these things is about the same thing," he said. "It’s about equality. It’s about fairness. It’s about respect. As my dad used to say, it’s about affording every single person dignity. It’s not complicated. Every single one of these issues is about dignity."

And if the vice presidency marks the end of his long career of public service, he will leave with his dignity intact.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.