The "best Biden" for president?

Wouldn't it be better if he just kept his day job?

By Tim Grieve

Published January 8, 2007 2:03PM (EST)

When Joe Biden appeared on "Meet the Press" this weekend, he confirmed what he's said before -- that he plans to run for president -- by telling Tim Russert how he's going to go about doing it: "I'm going to be Joe Biden, and I'm going to try to be the best Biden I can be."

Not to get too snippy about it, but that's exactly what we're afraid of. Is the "best Biden" the one who told Alberto Gonzales, during his confirmation hearing, that he wasn't being honest with the Senate Judiciary Committee but that he was the "real deal" and would be confirmed anyway? Is the "best Biden" the one who voted in favor of the resolution authorizing George W. Bush to use force in Iraq? Is the "best Biden" the one who told a supporter last year that there are so many Indian-Americans in Delaware that you can't "go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent"? Or is the "best Biden" the one who told the Washington Post last week that the White House knows that the war in Iraq is lost, but that there's "nothing a United States Senate can do to stop a president from conducting his war."

To be fair, Biden has plenty to offer the national debate, and his insights are often valuable and biting -- at least until he undercuts them with whatever head-scratcher he offers up next. But if you assume for a moment that Biden probably won't win the Democratic nomination -- it's just too hard to imagine the man holding things together that long -- then wouldn't his party and his nation be better off if Biden stayed focused on serving as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? That's a job that needs doing now -- without the distractions of a presidential campaign, and without the accusation that everything the chairman does is done in service of it.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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