I don't know whose reputation, his or mine, I damage more by saying this: I hope Joe Biden runs for president. In recent cycles, presidential elections have become very close contests, decided by a handful of swing states. Regardless of who the nominees end up being, this thing could go either way. In the event I have to live under a Democratic president for the next four or possibly eight years, I'd rather it be a Democrat I like. Also, preferably not a socialist.
As much as I disagree with Joe Biden on many policy issues, I like the guy. Whether it be in expressing joy or deep sorrow, he is authentic and unafraid to show human emotion. Part of a president's job is to be the consoler-in-chief in times of national grief. Joe Biden knows how to help people pick themselves up again after tragedy.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, he is unscripted and spontaneous. Yes, he's verbose. Left unchecked, his interactions can often turn into monologues peppered with Irish poetry and occasional bad words. He is prone to gaffes. But we never doubt that he is saying what he actually believes.
He has a tendency for somewhat inappropriate public displays of affection. As long as he is not massaging Vladimir Putin's neck, I think I can live with it.
He will make for great late night comedy skits. Hillary Clinton doesn't provide comedians much material to work with. He has another minor difference with Clinton -- Biden does not have a private email server under federal investigation.
It is hard to argue that Bill Clinton is not the best political spouse any candidate could ask for. The problem is, he is too darn good. Next to her folksy, charismatic husband, Hillary Clinton can appear like a cardboard cutout. Bill Clinton overshadows his wife.
Jill Biden, on the other hand, makes her husband shine. Anyone who's ever met her will tell you Jill is articulate, grounded and disarmingly nice. She is a community college educator who has continued to work while performing her duties as the wife of the vice president. She has been an active advocate for military families and on education issues. Unlike Hillary Clinton's spouse, Jill Biden doesn't run a foundation financed by controversial donations
Hillary Clinton has a problem relating to everyday Americans. She is today a very wealthy woman who seems uncomfortable with her privileged status. She is constantly and awkwardly trying to convince us that she is just like everybody else. While in the Senate, Joe Biden was one of the least affluent senators. He and his wife lived off their salaries. He's never forgotten he's a kid from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Biden understands federal issues and has extensive foreign policy experience. More often than not, I disagree with his conclusions, but I never doubt his base of knowledge. Even members of his own party will tell you, President Obama has been lackluster in working with Congress. Joe Biden is the ultimate institutionalist when it comes to Congress.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate six times before becoming vice president. He has friendships going back decades with members of both parties. The man knows how to build and maintain personal relationships -- something which has been sorely missing in Washington in the Obama administration.
Biden certainly will face the challenge of being seen as the third term of Obama. Hillary Clinton was Obama's secretary of state. She'll face it too.
Biden's age could be an issue. To state the obvious, the two current Democratic front-runners aren't exactly spring chickens either. Clinton turns 68 next month. Bernie Sanders is 74. It's hard to see either of them making a generational argument against 72-year-old Biden.
The biggest question Biden faces, as he himself has shared, is whether after his son Beau's recent death, he and his family have the "emotional fuel" required to mount a presidential campaign.
Like Joe and Jill Biden, my parents also lost their eldest son. It is an excruciating experience that leaves parents scarred and changes a family forever. Running for president will not lessen Biden's pain. Not running for president will not lessen it either. The pain and void will always be there.
The death of a loved one helps put life in perspective. The biggest risk Biden would be taking is to run and lose. Sadly, he has already lost much more than that. Political loss pales in comparison to the personal loss. Joseph Robinette Biden knows that better than anyone.