Joe Biden

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First, that nobody, no group, is above others. Public servants are obliged to level with everybody, whether or not they'll like what he has to say. And second, that politics was a matter of personal honor. A man's word is his bond. You give your word, you keep it.

Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. (born November 20, 1942) is the Vice President of the United States. An American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden is a member of the Democratic Party.

Quotes[edit]

1980s[edit]

  • For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community. For too long as a nation, we have been lulled by the anthem of self-interest. For a decade, led by Ronald Reagan, self-aggrandizement has been the full-throated cry of this society: "I've got mine, so why don't you get yours" and "What's in it for me?"
    • Speech announcing entry into 1988 presidential race, Wilmington, Delaware (June 10, 1987)
  • We must rekindle the fire of idealism in our society, for nothing suffocates the promise of America more than unbounded cynicism and indifference.
    • Speech announcing entry into 1988 presidential race, Wilmington, Delaware (June 10, 1987)
  • The standard of judgment is no longer results but the flickering image of seriousness, skillfully crafted to squeeze into 30 seconds on the nightly news. In this world, emotion has become suspect - the accepted style is smooth, antiseptic and passionless.
    • On the national debate, Speech announcing entry into 1988 presidential race, Wilmington, Delaware (June 10, 1987)
  • It is an exciting and dangerous time, for this generation of Americans has the opportunity so rarely granted to others by fate and history. We literally have the chance to shape the future - to put our own stamp on the face and character of America, to bend history just a little bit.
    • On the national debate, Speech announcing entry into 1988 presidential race, Wilmington, Delaware (June 10, 1987)

1990s[edit]

  • But I respectfully suggest, Major, that the responsibility is slightly above your pay grade, to decide whether to take the nation to war alone, or to take the nation to war part way, or to take the Nation to work half-way. That is a real tough decision.
    • To Scott Ritter, in hearings about the disarmament process, before the Senate Committee on Armed Services (1998)

2000s[edit]

  • Alan Cranston understood power not as a reflection of status but as a tool with a purpose.
    • Meet the Press (December 31, 2000)
  • Rudy Giuliani — there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11.
    • Democratic primary debate (October 30, 2007)
  • Mr. President, today, in his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, President Bush gave a vivid and, I believe, compelling description of the threat to America and to freedom from radical Islamic fundamentalism. He made, in my view, a powerful case for what is at stake for every American. Simply put, the radical fundamentalists seek to kill our citizens in great numbers, to disrupt our economy, and to reshape the international order. They would take the world backwards, replacing freedom with fear and hope with hatred. If they were to acquire a nuclear weapon, the threat they would pose to America would be literally existential. The President said it well. The President is right that we cannot and will not retreat. We will defend ourselves and defeat the enemies of freedom and progress.
It wasn't enough to have ideas; I had to know my facts. I had to demonstrate command from the minute I started running. I understood that was the test I had to pass.
  • I don’t think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about. John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, ‘I want us out of there,’ but when you come back and you say, ‘O.K., John. What about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?’ Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period? So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there. So for me, what I think you have to do is have a strategic notion. And they may have it—they are just smart enough not to enunciate it.
    • Speaking on Edwards' position for immediate withdrawal of about 40,000 American troops from Iraq (February 5, 2007), reported in the New York Observer
  • I'm running for president because I think that, with a lot of help, I can stem the tide of this slide and restore America’s leadership in the world and change our priorities. I will argue that my experience and my track record — both on the foreign and domestic side — put me in a position to be able to do that.
    • Conference call with reporters after announcing candidacy for the 2008 Democratic president nomination (January 30, 2007)
  • I would respectfully suggest to you that the Democrats out there understand I am the only person with a plan that can get out of Iraq without our interests in the region not falling apart.
    • Conference call with reporters after announcing candidacy for the 2008 Democratic president nomination (January 30, 2007)
  • I'm not exploring. I’m in. And this is the beginning of a marathon
    • Referring to his choice not to set up an "exploratory committee" and instead enter the race directly; interview on ABC News after announcing candidacy for the 2008 Democratic president nomination (January 30, 2007)
  • There's good reason to be excited. You have the first woman running who is qualified, and a very attractive African-American who has demonstrated crossover appeal. I got involved in politics 40 years ago during the civil rights movement, so yes, it's an exciting thing.
  • The average voter out there understands that the next president is going to have to be prepared to immediately step in without hesitation and end our involvement in Iraq. It's very difficult to figure out how to move on to broader foreign policy concerns without fixing Iraq first.
  • You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent ... I'm not joking.
I kept trying to tell people that just because I was young didn't mean I could speak for all young people.
  • Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask: Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone? Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to fill up the car? Winter's coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills? Another year and no raise? Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care? Now, we owe more on the house than it's worth. How are we going to send the kids to college? How are we gonna be able to retire? That's the America that George Bush has left us, and that's the America that George -- excuse me, if John McCain is elected president of the United States.
    • Joe Biden's vice presidential candidacy acceptance speech at the DNC, 2008. [1]
  • When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it." Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.
  • Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit. The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress.
  • My memory is not as good as... Chief Justice Roberts.
    • [2] Remarks] while administering oath of office for White House senior staff; poking fun at memorable incident in which John G. Roberts misplaced words while swearing-in President Obama at the presidential inauguration the previous day (January 21, 2009)

Promises to Keep (2008)[edit]

  • He wanted me to understand two big things: First, that nobody, no group, is above others. Public servants are obliged to level with everybody, whether or not they'll like what he has to say. And second, that politics was a matter of personal honor. A man's word is his bond. You give your word, you keep it. For as long as I can remember, I've had a sort of romantic notion of what politics should be- and can be. If you do politics the right way, I believe, you can actually make people's lives better. And integrity is the minimum ante to get into the game. Nearly forty years after I first got involved, I remain captivated by the possibilities of politics and public service. In fact, I believe- as I know my grandpop did- that my chosen profession is a noble calling.
    • Pages xv-xvi
  • We all know- or at least we are told continually- that we are a divided people. And we know there's a degree of truth in it. We have too often allowed our differences to prevail among us. We have too often allowed ambitious men to play off those differences for political gain. We have too often retreated behind our differences when no one really tried to lead us beyond them. But all our differences hardly measure up to the values we all hold in common... I am running for the Senate because... I want to make the system work again, and I am convinced that is what all Americans really want.
    • Pages xvi-xvii
  • Full disclosure: I do not have absolute faith in the judgment and wisdom of the American people. We're all human, and we can all be misled. When leaders don't level with citizens, we can't expect them to make good judgments. But I do have absolute faith in the heart of the American people. The greatest resource in this country is the grit, the resolve, the courage, the basic decency, and the stubborn pride of its citizens.
    • Page xx
I wasn't built to look the other way because the law demanded it. The law might be wrong.
  • I wasn't built to look the other way because the law demanded it. The law might be wrong.
    • Page 42
  • I had no place to go. It was up or out.
    • Page 58
  • I knew I had to be sure-footed about the issues I was talking about. When you're twenty-nine years old, who the hell is going to think you're credible? It wasn't enough to have ideas; I had to know my facts. I had to demonstrate command from the minute I started running. I understood that was the test I had to pass.
    • Page 63
  • The fabric of our complex society is woven too tightly to permit any part of it to be damaged without damaging the whole.
    • Page 64
  • I didn't argue that the war in Vietnam was immoral; it was merely stupid and a horrendous waste of time, money, and lives based on a flawed premise.
    • Pages 65-66
  • When seagull droppings landed on my head at a campaign event at Bowers Beach two days before Election Day, I chose to read it as a sign of a coming success.
    • Page 73
I didn't argue that the war in Vietnam was immoral; it was merely stupid and a horrendous waste of time, money, and lives based on a flawed premise.
  • The first few days I felt trapped in a constant twilight of vertigo, like in the dream where you're suddenly falling... only I was constantly falling. In moments of fitful sleep I was aware of the dim possibility that I would wake up, truly wake up, and this would not have happened.
    • Page 80
  • Most of all I was numb, but there were moments when the pain cut through like a shard of broken glass. I began to understand how despair led people to just cash it in; how suicide wasn't just an option but a rational option.
    • Page 80
  • I liked to go at night when I thought there was a better chance of finding a fight. I was always looking for a fight. I had not known I was capable of such rage. I knew I had been cheated of a future, but I felt I'd been cheated of a past, too. The underpinnings of my life had been kicked out from under me... and it wasn't just the loss of Neilia and Naomi. All my life I'd been taught about our benevolent God. This is a forgiving God, a just God, a God who knows people make mistakes. This is a God who is tolerant. This is a God who gave us free will to be able to doubt. This was a loving God, a God of comfort. Well, I didn't want to hear anything about a merciful God. No words, no prayer, no sermon gave me ease. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry. I found no comfort in the Church. So I kept walking the dark streets to try to exhaust the rage.
    • Page 81
  • I kept trying to tell people that just because I was young didn't mean I could speak for all young people.
    • Page 84
  • A better man might have handled the situation with more grace than I did. A better man would have been able to separate his personal life from his career.
    • Page 87
There is a great deal of pressure, in the one particular area at least, to prostitute our ideas, if not our integrity.
  • There is a great deal of pressure, in the one particular area at least, to prostitute our ideas, if not our integrity.
    • Page 93
  • Sleep was like a phantom I was too tired to chase.
    • Page 96
  • A convicted felon who had strong family ties, a stake in the community, and an education might get probation, while a man who had few family ties, little stake in the community, and little education might draw a ten-year sentence for the same crime.
    • Page 122
  • The system wasn't working, and I thought it was time to err on the side of a new model. What might work, I thought, was a system that promoted personal accountability, consistency, and certainty. Congress could say people who committed the same federal crime, under the same circumstances, were going to jail for the same amount of time. We could give judges a narrower set of sentencing guidelines to work with, and felons would be required to pay the same price. We'd be judging the crime, not the person.
    • Page 123
  • I think I instinctively understood that my most important duty was to be a target. People were desperate to vent their anger, and if they could yell at a united States senator, all the better. Part of being a public servant, I came to understand in 1978, was absorbing the anger of people who don't know where to turn. If I couldn't solve the problem for them, I had to at least be an outlet.
    • Page 127
  • As I pushed through to the podium, I could hear people murmuring under their breath: "There he is... Goddam Biden.... Kill the sonofabitch." And these were my voters- working-class Democrats.
    • Page 127
It required a lot less energy, intelligence, and competence to run against government than to try to make government work.
  • It required a lot less energy, intelligence, and competence to run against government than to try to make government work.
    • Page 134
  • Just because our political heroes were murdered does not mean that the dream does not still live, buried deep in our broken hearts.
    • Page 141
  • No matter how well intended our country is, we cannot expect other nations to trust us as much as we trust ourselves.
    • Page 145
  • I, too, believe there are natural rights that predate any written political or legal documents; we have these rights merely because we're children of God.
    • Page 178
  • I believe all Americans are born with certain inalienable rights. As a child of God, I believe my rights are not derived from the Constitution. My rights are not derived from any government. My rights are not denied by any majority. My rights are because I exist. They were given to me and each of my fellow citizens by our creator, and they represent the essence of human dignity....
    • Page 194
  • My own father had always said the measure of a man wasn't how many times or how hard he got knocked down, but how fast he got back up.
    • Page 208
I, too, believe there are natural rights that predate any written political or legal documents; we have these rights merely because we're children of God.
  • I think you're a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one.
  • There is never a time when a president can act to stop a tragedy from occurring without being held politically accountable one way or the other. If he does it and fails, he's wrong. If he does it and succeeds, he was never right because it didn't happen. If we go in and stop an act of genocide, we can't prove what we stopped.
    • Page 281
  • I learned later that the surgeon who put Dole back together after he was so badly injured in World War II was an Armenian whose family had deep memories of the genocidal campaign the Turks had waged against them.
    • Page 281
  • The carnage was over, but there was still a bitter taste in my mouth.
    • Page 284
For the world to follow, we must do more than rattle our sabers and demand allegienace to our vision simply because we believe we are right. We must provide a reason for others to aspire to that vision. And that reason must come with more than the repetition of a bumper-sticker phrase about freedom and democracy. It must come with more than the restatement of failed policy. It must come with the wisdom to admit when we are wrong and resolve to change course and get it right.
  • In spite of the president's phone call, I remained a vocal critic of the Bush administration's foreign policy priorities through that summer because I didn't trust most of the people he had around him. The civilians in the Department of Defense were unlike any I'd ever seen. They seemed to think our nation was so powerful that we could simply impose our will on the rest of the world with almost no ill consequence. It seemed to me that Rumsfeld and his chief deputy at Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, were so totally in thrall to that conservative think-tank-generated ideology that they were steering the president down a dangerous path. And they were so intent on overturning President Clinton's foreign policy initiatives that they were losing sight of the bigger goal, which was keeping America safe at home and engaged in doing good in the world.
    • Page 298
  • These were al-Qaeda fighters, the first I'd ever seen up close, and they looked like badasses. As I passed on the outskirts of the grid, many of the prisoners stared directly at me. None of them cowered. I've been in a lot of prisons, but these guys showed a ferocity and a hatred unlike any I'd ever seen.
    • Page 321
  • Given Iraq's strategic location, its large oil reserves, and the suffering of the Iraqi people, we cannot afford to replace a despot with chaos. It would be a tragedy if we removed a tyrant in Iraq only to leave chaos in its wake.
    • Page 335
  • I made a mistake. I underestimated the influence of Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and the rest of the neocons; I vastly underestimated their disingenuousness and incompetence. So George W. Bush went to war again, and just the way the neocons wanted him to- without significant international backing.
    • Page 342
  • Things never got better, and Rumsfeld and Cheney never got any wiser. It became increasingly clear that those two men had eroded our country's claim to any moral high ground by flouting the Geneva Conventions. They forced policy decisions that allowed the hideous prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and encouraged the mistreatment of Muslim prisoners at our facility in Guantánamo in Cuba. I wasn't shy about hammering Rumsfeld.
    • Page 351
  • It was that hard; I still feel that way. But I believe that President Bush failed to lead. History will judge him harshly not for the mistakes he made- we all make mistakes- but for the opportunities he squandered.
    • Page 352
  • For the world to follow, we must do more than rattle our sabers and demand allegienace to our vision simply because we believe we are right. We must provide a reason for others to aspire to that vision. And that reason must come with more than the repetition of a bumper-sticker phrase about freedom and democracy. It must come with more than the restatement of failed policy. It must come with the wisdom to admit when we are wrong and resolve to change course and get it right.
    • Page 353

2010s[edit]

  • Look, I am vice president of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don't see much of a distinction beyond that.
    • In response to the question, "You're comfortable with same-sex marriage now?" Meet the Press (May 6, 2012)
  • I resent when they talk about families like mine that I grew up in. I resent the fact that they think we're talking about envy: it's job envy, it's wealthy envy; that we don't dream. My mother believed and my father believed that if I wanted to be president of the United States, that I could be, I could be vice president! My mother and father believed that if my brother or sister wanted to be a millionaire, they could be a millionaire! My mother and father dreamed as much as any rich guy dreams! They don't get us! They don't get who we are!
Full disclosure: I do not have absolute faith in the judgment and wisdom of the American people. We're all human, and we can all be misled. When leaders don't level with citizens, we can't expect them to make good judgments.
  • Make sure of two things. Be careful — microphones are always hot, and understand that in Washington, D.C., a gaffe is when you tell the truth. So, be careful.
  • Even the oil companies don't need an incentive of $4 billion to go out and explore. As my grandpop would say, "They’re doing just fine, thank you."
  • We got a real clear picture of what they all value. Every Republican's voted for it. Look at what they value and look at their budget and what they're proposing. Romney wants to let the — he said in the first hundred days he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, "unchain Wall Street." They’re going to put y'all back in chains.

External links[edit]

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