On Sunday in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center, former Vice President Joe Biden complained about the “demeaning” nature of today’s politics as he presented the Liberty Medal to President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush.
Biden pontificated, “As President Bush was my opposition as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he was never my enemy. Think how demeaning our politics has become in terms of how we talk about one another. There’s the opposition, not the enemies. In a week following another contentious political season, the presentation of the Liberty Medal is a critical reminder that neither Republicans nor Democrats hold a monopoly on the values and the ideals that define us as a nation.”
It’s amusing to hear Biden, whose partisanship has often taken an ugly tone during his career, lament how “demeaning” American politics has become. Biden’s nastiness dates back to at least 1987, when he served as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee that was considering the nomination of the esteemed judge Robert Bork, an avowed constitutionalist, and permitted his compatriot, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), to utter lie after lie in order to derail Bork’s nomination. The process was so partisan and nasty that the term “Borked” entered political consciousness as a description of obstructing someone, especially a candidate for public office, through systematic defamation or vilification.
As Professor Stephen Calabresi of Northwestern University Law School recalled, “The Bork hearings were themselves a travesty of justice. Judge Bork was at the time, and is still, a distinguished constitutional scholar and government official who held many important posts in the executive branch and in the judiciary, and Sen. Biden basically organized a partisan smear campaign against Judge Bork.” He added, “The Bork hearings were themselves a travesty of justice,” Calabresi said. “Judge Bork was at the time, and is still, a distinguished constitutional scholar and government official who held many important posts in the executive branch and in the judiciary, and Sen. Biden basically organized a partisan smear campaign against Judge Bork …” Speaking of the 1991 hearings for Judge Clarence Thomas in 1991, Calabrese noted, “The Thomas hearings were, if anything, even worse, because they descended into the personal, and became really, almost a circus because of Sen. Biden’s inability to control the hearings.”
Radio host Mark Levin said in 2008, “Joe Biden has had his finger in every tawdry hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in my memory. He has lowered the standard of debate. He has politicized the confirmation process. He has used his position to defame a number of nominees, including Bob Bork and Clarence Thomas, and there’s no road too low that he won’t travel.”
That tendency to aim low for Biden was also infamously in evidence in 2012, when he accused the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney of wanting to “Put y’all back in chains,” saying, “He said in the first 100 days he’s gonna let the big banks, once again, write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They gonna put y’all back in chains.” Video of that nasty remark below: