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Biden: Fire Cheney


In a new book he hopes will boost his campaign for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Joe Biden writes of his disdain for Vice President Cheney and President Clinton's praise of his foreign policy expertise. (AP).

After pictures emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in April 2004, Sen. Joe Biden told reporters he would fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld if he were president. According to the senator's new book, Biden then found himself with some explaining to do.

"Why do you keep picking on Rummy," President Bush asked Biden in a meeting that also included Vice-President Dick Cheney.

"I looked at Cheney," Biden writes. "Mr. Vice-President, I said, full disclosure, were you not a constitutional officer, I'd fire you too. Simple reason, Mr. President, can you name me one piece of substantial advice given about the war in Iraq that's turned out to be true? That's why Mr. President."

Cheney did not respond to Biden's broadside. Three years later, the longtime senator finds himself lagging in the polls and fundraising in his quest to be Bush's successor. His aides hope that the release of "Promises to Keep" this week, along with a book tour that includes interviews with Jon Stewart, David Letterman and Charlie Rose, will infuse some life into his bid for the Democratic nomination.

Much of the book covers Biden's life story, including his youth in Delaware, the death of his first wife Neilia and their infant daughter shortly after he was elected to the Senate at age 29 in 1972. It also delves into the pair of brain aneurysms he suffered in Feb. 1988, only months after he had dropped out of the Democratic presidential race after it was discovered he had used lines from a British politician in his speeches without crediting him.

But he also details his work in a Senate career that has lasted virtually his entire adult life. President Bush isn't the only Oval Office occupant who the Delaware Senator has had tense relations with. In 1999, Biden had criticized President Clinton for not being more aggressive against Serbia for attacking neighboring Kosovo.

After U.S. airstrikes against Serbia lead the Serbs to withdraw from Kosovo, Biden congratulated President Clinton for intervening in the conflict. But according to Biden, Clinton was not eager to accept the Delaware Senator's praise. In a meeting between the pair, Clinton told Biden that he had been unfair to him. In his criticism, Clinton offered a message that Biden's campaign would love other Americans to hear. According to Biden, who has long been involved in foreign policy issues in the Senate, Clinton said, "I was a governor, you've been doing this your whole adult life."

--Perry Bacon Jr.

Posted at 4:30 PM ET on Jul 30, 2007  | Category:  Joe Biden
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Sen. Biden would be my choice for President. His experience and sound judgment and ability to work across party lines make him unique among all the other candidates...it is just too bad that the only candidates we hear about from the media are the top three on both sides...like it is already decided for us!

Posted by: rapoportjerry | August 6, 2007 9:59 AM

I and many veterans back you senator Biden thank you for your continuing your support and promoting the MRAPs... Its funny how these guys are trying to bash senator Biden on his past they are not even seeing the good things he has done and continues to do today.. We need him for President.

Semper Fi

Posted by: MarineVet03 | July 31, 2007 7:34 PM

I and many veterans back you senator Biden thank you for your continuing your support and promoting the MRAPs... Its funny how these guys are trying to bash senator Biden on his past they are not even seeing the good things he has done and continues to do today.. We need him for President.

Semper Fi

Posted by: MarineVet03 | July 31, 2007 7:31 PM

Richardson looks and sounds confused in all the dabates. Obama simarly, to an only slightly lesser extent, looks and sounds confused.

Anyone who's paid attention to the debates at all should be able to see the most obvious truth about these Democratic contenders:
Biden's the only one making any sense up there. He's the only one answering the questions coherently and honestly.

I've noticed numerous times over the past few months that Biden is simply slighted by the media.
Can you imagine a one-on-one debate with Biden and any of the Republicans or Democrats? That would be exciting!

Biden has much more charisma, intellegence intrigue than John Kerry ever did.

I believe he would be a much more interesting democratic contender than the other predictably evasive Democrat actors.
and OF COURSE he'd be a much better president. Take a look at Clinton's recent Iraq senate speech on YouTube. In 30 minutes she manages to say absolutely nothing except that the Bush administration has done a poor job with the war and we need to pull our troops out.

If it were not for Biden I would feel completely apathetic about this race.

Posted by: captainmyshkin | July 31, 2007 7:20 PM

It's useless to promote Biden for President. He, like Kerry, is an admirable U.S. Senator, but lacks the vote-getting traits necessary. My biggest complaint about the man is his failure to prevent the confirmation of Clarence Thomas when he had the opportunity. He was then chairman of the judiciary committee and was privy to all the info coming from Anita Hill and others about Thomas's history of sexual harassment and addiction to porn. He caved and did not allow testimony that would have sunk Thomas once and for all.

Posted by: mikebrown3 | July 31, 2007 4:17 PM

Of course the Great Lib Hope Obama also voted for that anti-bankruptcy bill (and also would bend the ear off of a reporter who bothers to ask why he would support such a knifing of the American working class with oh-so reasonable excuses), but I could offer a way for Biden to leapfrog over the frontrunners in a sec: come out for single-payer healthcare. The American populace is fast wising up to the obvious advantages to public financing of healthcare, and every last first- and second-tier Dem candidate has offered lame proposals that keep the insurance companies in the game. Biden could take that issue away from Gravel and Kucinich if he dared to, and distinguish himself from ClintonObamaEdwardsDodd (yeah, Dodd had his chance and he blew it) by boldly calling for the one easy fix of all the relevant issues.

Posted by: jeffreydj | July 31, 2007 4:06 PM

steelers_rule123: "Biden is clearly the best person for the job..."

Come on! He--like Clinton, Edwards, and Dodd--was not bright enough to oppose the Iraq War Resolution. Given his poor judgment, I would not want him as Sect. of State or Defense, either. My vote will go to Obama or Richardson.

Posted by: constanj | July 31, 2007 2:26 PM

Yeah, regarding that plagiarism remark that keeps getting tossed around - Biden credited that Brit in every other speech before the one in question. It doesn't make any sense to bash him for forgetting one time. Nor does it make sense that Biden would intentionally fail to credit the guy in only one speech.

For the most part, Biden's got good ideas which is far and above what any other candidate offers. Some of his views I disagree with such as his support of the bankruptcy bill last year. But if you actually look at and listen to why he decided to support that bill, you will will find that it was a carefully considered and well-reasoned decision.

Biden would make a great president. Just as with any other candidate, though, you have to seek out the truth from the personal and partisan attacks.

Posted by: duffman01 | July 31, 2007 1:43 PM

It's very simple: the media refuses to allow Biden to get the word out. The average voter doesn't pay attention to the Sunday morning shows until a year from now; while Biden is comfortable on Russert or Steph's shows, the nightly news ignores him (and while he is a fave of Stewart, "The Daily Show" is frankly over-hyped in its influence). Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have money, cache, good looks, respectively- things that in a media-centric electorate can spell success. 2008 is going to be the Style Election, no question. Biden is clearly the best person for the job, but I would agree with a previous poster that at this point he is going for State or Defense (Treasury or AG would be the next choices). It's a shame that he is not particulary 'sexy' or 'dynamic', or that Letterman isn't crushing over him like the others- our country needs someone like him-- experience matters.

Posted by: steelers_rule123 | July 31, 2007 1:28 PM

Biden cannot get elected because he bring up topics. He is very clear and frank about the topics. Uses facts and figures. For the most part is very truthful..

The only people who try and comment are those that throw rehtorical dirges and various non-gender pronouns at him.

The US tossed out such a guy President Jimmy Carter...and attempted again with Clinton

Ironically our country is discussing the very same topics the Carter Administration was trying to solve.

Posted by: danfahey1 | July 31, 2007 1:14 PM

Biden cannot get elected because he bring up topics. He is very clear and frank about the topics. Uses facts and figures. For the most part is very truthful..

The only people who try and comment are those that throw rehtorical dirges and various non-gender pronouns at him.

The US tossed out such a guy President Jimmy Carter...and attempted again with Clinton

Ironically our country is discussing the very same topics the Carter Administration was trying to solve.

Posted by: danfahey1 | July 31, 2007 1:13 PM

Biden can't attract Democratic voters because it appears he doesn't understand that it is a race he is in. When viewing him in debates Biden seems to believe he has the market cornered on truth and frank talk, however, his version of such things comes across as very negative and lacking in an overall campaign vision. Saying things like 'get real' make Biden appear aloof and frustrated by the campaign process that everyone knows will come when going for the presidency.

The reality is Democrats are looking for a presidential nominee this time that can do more than just win, judging by the amount of attention Obama is getting it appears a real thirst for some positive energy exists. Obama has that in spades and even Clinton appears to remain upbeat in her comments, even something as superficial as her appearance points to her trying to generate a positive feel.

Regardless of what Biden's people are telling him, people do want to genuinely like a candidate. Biden's frank talk in very off-putting.

Posted by: wade.tomlin | July 31, 2007 12:01 PM

Whether he's running for State or Defense is a moot point. The fact is he has little chance at either if a Democrat is elected in '08. The reason: It's politics 101 - He's too much of an independent thinker and could potentially be "off the reservation" if his positions did not line up with those of a potential Democratic administration. Plus he would overshadow any of the top 3 Democratic contenders on foreign policy.

Posted by: smarty_pants | July 31, 2007 11:54 AM

What's wrong with running for secretary of state or defense? (Not that your comment implied that there was anything wrong with it.) Perhaps the political process would be less canaballistic if more overt effort were focused on putting together a Democratic 'Dream Team'. It could even begin to function as an opposition administration. We have a shadow government within the current administration, after all.

Posted by: AlexThuronyi1 | July 31, 2007 11:28 AM

What's wrong with running for secretary of state or defense? (Not that your comment implied that there was anything wrong with it.) Perhaps the political process would be less canaballistic if more overt effort were focused on putting together a Democratic 'Dream Team'. It could even begin to function as an opposition administration. We have a shadow government within the current administration, after all.

Posted by: AlexThuronyi1 | July 31, 2007 11:28 AM

Why won't Democrats support Joe Biden? How about because he played a contemptible, unforgivable role in passing last term's anti-consumer, pro-collection agency bankruptcy legislation.

Posted by: howlless | July 31, 2007 9:25 AM

Good for you, "flamingliberals", the completely gratuitous and smarmy Intensity of esj1011 betrays a Personal rather than a political agenda.

Biden is a good man....a lot better than this ugly detractor.

Posted by: jaydiamond | July 31, 2007 2:33 AM

Foul, esj1011! It is not constructive to dismiss a legitimate candidate with a collection of superficial pejoratives. I think this country is ready for a frank and open debate on what kind of president we need to provide leadership and the level of damage control necessary to regain our standing in the world. Personally, I believe we should be open to anyone of experience, and take their lapses of good judgement with a grain of salt. If that were not the case there would be no one to vote for in 2008. I say, give Biden a fair chance to state his case. It's a long way to November '08 and an open mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Posted by: flamingliberals | July 30, 2007 11:29 PM

because he is a spent windbag. in addition to his british ghost speechwriter, he also admitted to plagarism in law school. Biden generally preens around with a terribel comb-over, acting much smarter than everyone else, even though he is clearly not. his best chance was 88, and he blew it then - he is running for secretary of state or defense right now

Posted by: esj1011 | July 30, 2007 10:22 PM

Why is Senator Biden having so much trouble attracting support from Dem donors and Dem primary voters (if you believe the polls)?

Posted by: bsimon | July 30, 2007 5:11 PM

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