Margaret Talev: Why Joe Biden Wanted Barack Obama to Deliver His Son’s Eulogy
Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama went through the fires together: two presidential campaigns, economic collapse, war, terrorism, destabilization of the Arab world and societal change that spawned the Tea Party and gay marriage waves simultaneously. But aides say it is the men’s shared experience with personal grief, and an unexpected bonding of their wives, daughters and grandchildren, more than their tests as officeholders, that have turned a political partnership between two men separated by race, age and temperament into a deep, if mostly unsung, friendship.
That’s a dynamic many Americans will see on Saturday, when Obama delivers the eulogy for Biden’s son Beau, a husband, father, veteran and rising political star who seemed destined to carry on his father’s legacy before his death from brain cancer on May 30 at age 46. Obama called Biden on the night Beau died. By the time the call ended, he had been tasked with a humbling assignment: To say the final words about Beau that the vice president and his wife Jill are too grief-stricken to utter. “The president . . . has this reputation for being cold or distant—but he isn’t,” Klain said. “For the people in his orbit, the people he has a chance to get to know, he has a real sense of family” and the Bidens “are part of that. I think it’s a loss that he feels personally.” Biden wanted Obama to deliver the eulogy because he felt that Obama would know instinctively what the family would want others to know about Beau.
Earlier this year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Biden addressed a group in Pennsylvania and recounted how he had felt when researchers discovered that his own great-great grandfather and Obama’s great-great-great grandfather each had been shoemakers in Ireland who emigrated within five weeks of one another. “I thought to myself, isn’t that the Irish of it,” Biden said. “All their dreams, could they ever [have] dreamed 160 years later, two shoemakers’ great, great grandsons would be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States of America.”
Various TODers have done such a good job remembering 2014’s highlights that I feel no need to add to that. So allow me to pen a tribute.
And the tribute is to all of you.
I’ve had many homes online since the long ago days of the 90s. (And you’d be shocked at some of the places I called “home”. I’ll leave that to your imaginations.)
I thought DailyKos would be my political home in the darkness of the Bush regime. But after Barack Obama’s election, it was soon apparent that rage was all Markos trafficked in. Rage at Mr. Bush for destroying the country. Rage at Pres. Obama for not magically making everything right. And as I’ve written before, rage gets tiring, and rage fixes nothing. Rage is the cheap drug which keeps you sated for a bit. But you have to increase the dosage every time to get the same high, until your mind is addled and clear thought is banished.
I first found BWD, and her site was wonderful. But it was shortlived, as people as lofty as Glenn Greenwald called her a Leni Riefenstahl for daring to defend a just-elected president who had barely gotten his feet in the door. I don’t blame her for saying “fuck it” and sticking to Twitter.
Many of us found our way here by the same path, from DKos and BWD’s blog. It took me a while to start posting. I observed for a while. But you magnificent bastards pulled me in, and suddenly I realized that I had found like minds. It’s thrilling when one finds a group of people who have the same general outlook on life. Not just about politics, but on how to live one’s life, in kindness, consideration, and empathy. It was something I’d been looking for for a long time, never finding it. It was, quite simply, revelatory.
And as I spent more time here, the more I came to consider this an extended family. From Mama Chips to little sister Nerdy to crazy uncle amk to wise uncle Bob, I could share my troubles, my joys, my frustrations. We all could. We knew when someone was sick, or soul-hurt, or ecstatic. Donna’s grandbabies, Chips’ Danny, Carolyn’s husband’s medical issues: we knew them all, sorrowed, commiserated, or grew joyful, shared in the highs and lows. And there just aren’t that many places where one can say that online. Definitely not on a blog ostensibly dedicated to politics.
But that’s the thing; sure this is “The Obama Diary”, but it’s become more than just about this president or his policies. The blog embodies his humanity, his empathy, his genuine concern. We have become a family in large part because a man like Barack Obama attracts a certain type of person. He speaks to the quintessentially human, to the genuinely kind. And because we support him, for the most part we take after him. But if we weren’t already on that path, we wouldn’t be here.
January 1 starts a new year, and new battles. But, for now, sit, quietly, and wonder at the different points which brought us here. This little community, where injustice is condemned, where good is sought. This little community which is only as strong as its weakest member, and cherishes that member. This little family.
I thank you all. I’d be lost without this place. Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2015.
George Clooney has never been shy about sharing his thoughts on politics and current events. So yesterday, when we ran into him at a Peggy Siegal lunch for his new space flick Gravity, we asked the liberal-leaning actor for his thoughts about the ongoing government shutdown. He had many — on John Boehner’s grand strategy, on the “idiots” who think we don’t need government, and on Ted Cruz’s reading of Green Eggs and Ham. “People keep talking about how this has to be a great negotiation, but there isn’t any negotiating a law.
We negotiate on all these other topics, but this was put into law, and [Obama] was reelected on it. It was reaffirmed, it was passed through the Supreme Court — it’s a law. You don’t like it? Win an election. That’s how it works. That’s how the country works. But you don’t get to shut down the government because of it. That’s not how it works.” “Shutting down the government is not how you make government work. And anybody who thinks we don’t need it is an idiot.”
May 11, 2012 – Pete Souza: “After some early morning basketball in Los Angeles, the President talks with the players who included actors Don Cheadle, Tobey Maguire, and George Clooney, along with two of Clooney’s long-time friends. Stacy Keibler is also at right.”
What happens in Vegas . . . doesn’t stay in Vegas when you are George Clooney and get in an argument with a hotel tycoon over President Obama. “There were 9 people at that table. . .So you can ask them. . .Steve likes to go on rants. . .HE called the president an asshole. . . that is a fact. . .I said the President was my longtime friend and then he said ‘your friend is an asshole.’ . . .At that point I told Steve that HE was an asshole and I wasn’t going to sit at his table while he was being such a jackass. And I walked out. There were obviously quite a few more adjectives and adverbs used by both of us. Those are all the facts. It had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with character.”
Steve Wynn and I have met three times, two times for dinner. That is the extent of our knowledge of one another, so I will refrain from trying to categorize him based on the little time we’ve spent together, but I will not let his version of the truth go unchallenged. He now says he didn’t call the president an ‘a——.’ That is false. He bellowed ‘I voted for the a——,’ and then called him the same thing several more times as the dinner came to an abrupt end. Again there were eight people at the table, eight witnesses. I did in turn, call him the same body part, and walked out. Again he can make up whatever story he wants, but these are the facts. He said I drank 16 shots of tequila. I didn’t drink one shot of tequila, not one. We were drinking but it was early and we still had two events to attend.
He said I live in a bubble. More of a bubble than Las Vegas? Honestly? He says I’m ‘molly coddled,’ that I’m surrounded by people who coddle me. I would suggest that Mr. Wynn look to his left and right and find anyone in his sphere that says anything but ‘yes’ to him. Emphatically. I did not attend a private boys’ school, I worked in tobacco fields and in stock rooms, and construction sites. I’ve been broke more of my life than I have been successful, and I understand the meaning of being an employee and how difficult it is to make ends meet. Steve is one of the richest men in the world and he should be congratulated for it, but he needs to take off his red sparkly dinner jacket and roll up his sleeves every once in a while and understand what most of the country is actually dealing with … or at least start with the fact that you can’t make up stories when eight people who are not on your payroll are sitting around you as witnesses.
Walking through Clooney’s house, Obama glimpsed at the “HOPE” poster from the 2008 campaign by Shepard Fairey and told donors: “People don’t realize that the photograph of me is actually me sitting next to George” at an event when Clooney was advocating on behalf of Darfur. “We struck up a friendship,” Obama said, and then joked, to much laughter: “This is the first time that George Clooney has actually been photo-shopped out of a picture. Never happened before, will never happen again.” Obama said Fairey did a poster for Clooney with both men on the same picture. “Why he said at the bottom ‘Dope and Hope,’ I don’t know.” More laughter. “We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George.
They like me, they love him. And rightfully so. Not only is he an unbelievable actor, but he is one of those rare individuals who is at ease with everybody. He seems to occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of something truly important.” Clooney listened intently to the president throughout, his hands folded as if in prayer and his chin resting on them. And I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court. This man has been talking smack about his basketball game ever since I’ve known him.”
At the National Press Club for ‘SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide’, 2006
Interesting interview. He talks about President Obama at 35:42.
President Barack Obama jokes with cast members of the movie “The Monuments Men” in the Diplomatic Reception Room, prior to a movie screening in the Family Theater of the White House, Feb. 18, 2014. Standing from left are: Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Damon, Grant Heslov, and George Clooney (Photo by Pete Souza)