Outside editorial: That didn't take long

Posted: Sunday, February 04, 2007

The following editorial first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

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Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., D-Del., while very knowledgeable on foreign policy, has a lot to learn about diplomacy.

No sooner had he announced a bid for the presidency this week than he undermined his case with ill-advised comments about a rival.

Speaking of freshman Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Biden said he is "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." Biden quickly apologized and explained that he wasn't talking about Obama's grooming habits; he meant that Obama is a "fresh" newcomer.

OK, so he wasn't insulting Obama. He was insulting previous black presidential candidates Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton. That really helps.

It was an unusual way to kick off a presidential campaign - by demonstrating why you will never be president. Biden can be funny, blunt and smart on some topics. But he loves the sound of his own voice too much to notice when he is saying stupid things. Self-discipline is key test of presidential fitness.

Last summer, speaking of the influx of Indian Americans in Delaware, Biden opined, "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent." And you cannot go to the White House with an incurable case of verbal diarrhea.

The sad part is that Biden could play a valuable role in this presidential campaign. No other candidate understands the problems in Iraq better. His proposal to partition Iraq is a thoughtful attempt at a political solution to avoid large-scale civil war. He has been an influential critic of President Bush's plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq.

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