Brit Hume’s Classic Profile of Joe Biden

Elections

On the day Joe Biden announced for president, I re-read one of my favorite articles about him. Brit Hume was a correspondent for ABC News in 1986 when he profiled Biden for The New Republic. Published under the headline Mighty Mouth in the September 1, 1986, issue, Hume’s piece expresses the strengths and weaknesses of Biden’s, shall we say, unique personality. The future vice president was 43 years old at the time. The rhetorical fervor of his stump speeches and debating style, Hume wrote, have earned him the reputation of a man whose mouth often runs — and runs, and runs — well ahead of his mind.

Mighty Mouth isn’t available online. But a few choice quotes are enough to remind us that, while the world has changed, Joe Biden has not. For instance:

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Biden has long had a considerable reputation among Capitol Hill reporters for enjoying the sound of his own voice.

And:

Still, it [a speech against Attorney General Ed Meese] reinforced the impression of Biden as a man who does much of his thinking out loud and sometimes has difficulty figuring out what he thinks.

And:

It suggests that a Biden campaign for the presidency would be colorful, newsworthy, and, unlike his oratory, brief.

But the best part is Hume’s description of his interview with Biden:

‘I just want to find out why you don’t like me,’ he said at the beginning of that chat in the Senate dining room. It was an awkward and extraordinary conversation, in which Biden finally asked if the reporter [Hume] harbored any ‘deep personal antipathy.’ He was assured that there was none. ‘Then what is it you don’t like?’ he asked. ‘Senator,’ came the reluctant reply, ‘I think you’re a windbag.’ Biden seemed greatly relieved, laughed, and said he thought there was truth to that.

As always, Brit Hume tells it like it is.

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