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Flashback: Joe Biden Gives Powerful Speech at 2005 Virginia JJ Dinner


I posted this on Raising Kaine on 2/6/05 (yes, I’ve been blogging about Virginia politics for that long – yikes!), thought it was appropriate to re-post here given the VP debate last night.


Joe Biden: Most Significant Struggle Since 1932

By: Lowell
Published On: 2/6/2005 2:00:00 AM

In a 45-minute speech at last night's Jefferson Jackson Day dinner in Richmond, covered by two members of RaisingKaine, Joe Biden gave a powerful, blistering keynote address which tore into the Republicans as dangerous extremists who "say things that sound crazy, but are absolutely serious."

Before getting to the core of his speech, Biden teased the crowd that he and Mark Warner could run in 2008 ("My name is Joe Biden and I'm here to audition for Vice President of the United States of America" and even more obviously, "When I'm Mark Warner's Vice President").  Biden also hinted strongly that Mark Warner might run in 2008, and that if he did he would make a fine candidate.

In the core of his speech, Biden focused on the Republicans' plans for this country and how we Democrats underestimate them to our own grave peril.  Some of Biden's key points included:

  • He has studied neoconservative philosophy (Strauss, etc.), and has concluded that these are "serious people," albeit greatly misguided, who believe in "leveraging power" – using our military strength UNILATERALLY, even better in the face of the world's' opprobrium, to send a message to our enemies (Iran, North Korea, etc.) that we are not afraid to act and that nobody can stop us so they had better "fall in line."
  • In ominous tones, Biden stated bluntly that the neo-conservatives had "badly miscalculated," specifically in that they did not have a big enough military to do the job, and also that they have overextended America and created huge budget deficits as far as the eye can see
  • The Iraq war has been incredibly mismanaged.  In particular, the United States has "mortgaged our credibility at a time when we may need it badly." Biden specifically pointed to a scenario in which North Korea threatened to launch one of its No Dong long-range nuclear tipped missiles at the West Coast. In that case, if we go to our allies, "who's going to believe us" after we lied to them on Iraq?
  • The chances in success in Iraq at this point — and he's been to Iraq more than any other Senator by a factor of two — are at best 50/50, even after the election.
  • In Iraq, we are at serious risk of creating "an Afghanistan in the Middle East"
  • Domestically, the neo-cons believe in "devolution of government," which basically says that "anything that CAN be done at the local level should NOT be done at the Federal level."
  • Neo-cons are so committed to their domestic "devolution of government" ideology that they are even willing "to vote against things that are popular in their states and that they know will work!"
  • The Bush Administration is "the most ideological…in modern history."
  • The assault on Social Security is "not a scare tactic," but "about eliminating Social Security" and the New Deal in general." This is a "direct assault on everything we stand for;" aimed "consciously and strategically atunraveling the social contract" – and along with it the Democratic Party.
  • Democrats should "beware: this is the single most significant political struggle between the two parties since 1932"
  • The next four years are not going to be "business as usual," so the Democratic Party "better figure out what in the hell we stand for."
  • Right now, the United States finds itself in a "full blown war" against "radical fundamentalists," yet "none of us — except for the families of soldiers in Iraq — are asked to make any sacrifices." 
  • 9/11 was an "epiphany" for the United States, in which non-state actors "became an existential threat to a nation state for the first time in history"
  • Bush should have, but didn't, call for us to get off foreign oil
  • "Our [Democratic] values are under wholesale assault by leading right-wing ideologues." The battle is, among other things, over "how we value work," the "relative place of women in society," and the "elimination of collective action abroad as a means of enhancing our security."
  • "The world has changed utterly in the last decade," and "what [will] win the day will not be our necessary military might, but our values."
  • We must engage the "1 billion, 120 million" Muslims of the world
  • "Today offers us a unique opportunity to can change the world for the better"


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