Former Vice President Joe Biden told a journalist in 1974 that “cruddy politicians” like himself could “take away” the First Amendment if they wanted.
The current 2020 Democrat frontrunner made the comments to Washingtonian magazine while being interviewed for a profile published in June 1974. Biden, then only 31-years-old, came to regret the interview, as his penchant for gaffes and insensitive remarks—traits defining later portions of his career—heavily colored the piece. At the time, however, Biden appeared eager to discuss his life as the nation’s youngest senator.
“I am proud to be a politician,” Biden told then-Washingtonian writer Kitty Kelley, who authored the profile. “There is no other walk of life which can do more good for mankind than politics. It influences everything that happens to the American people.”
Biden proceeded, according to Kelley, to lean “over his desk to shake his finger at me” while explaining elected officials like himself had the power to “take away” constitutionally protected rights if they saw fit.
“And, whether you like it or not, young lady,” he said. “Us cruddy politicians can take away that First Amendment of yours if we want to.”
Biden’s remarks to Washingtonian mirror those he made in an address to the City Club of Cleveland, Ohio in May 1973. Although that speech initially drew notice for commentsBiden made likely to be offensive to women and his use of racially insensitive language —notably when he lectured about what “was good for the Negro,”– it also provided insight into his views on power and politics.
“We spend a lot of time talking about the United States being a melting pot, well that’s true, but quite frankly I think it’s overrated,” Biden told the City Club. “We’ve been able to move forward because of politics. In my opinion, politics need not necessarily be a dirty word.”
Biden expressed that despite the conventional feeling politics was “dirty,” politicians like him do more good for society than doctors or lawyers or “Indian chiefs.”
“Politics should be the most honorable of professions,” he said. “Those of you who are doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs in the audience, how can any of you possibly do as much good, if you are very good at what you do, as I can do if I am very good at what I can do?”
At other points in the speech, Biden declared that politicians were just “as moral,” if not more so, than doctors. He also admitted to taking “great offense” at what he saw as the public’s “perilous” attempt to label anyone in elective office a “thief” or a “crook.”
“I for one also take great offense, at 30-years-old achieving a life’s ambition, to seek the highest elective office, with one exception, in the land and the prestige of that office,” Biden said. “To now be put in the perilous position of being labeled as a ‘thief’ or a ‘crook’ as the rest of those politicians.”
He made similar admissions about “enjoying the prestige of being a senator” to Washingtonian. Those statements, however, did not cause as much of a stir when published as Biden’s unbridled willingness to divulge details of his personal life.
As Biden was a recent widower, having lost both his first wife, Neilia Biden, and 13-month-old daughter in a deadly car accident shortly after his election to the Senate in December 1972, a good deal of the interview was a reminiscence of his life before the tragedy.
Continue reading at Breitbart