There are only two reporters traveling coast-to-coast with the vice president on Air Force Two on a clear day in early October. Which is two more than usual. Even though Joe Biden is in the midst of a long-overdue respectfest—the recent 9,300-word Atlantic opus declaring him "indispensable," the eighty or so floundering Democratic candidates who called Joe before O to come stump for them—he's still largely ignored by the press. Until he puts his foot in his mouth. (At the signing ceremony for the health care bill: "Mr. President, this is a big fucking deal"—well, it was!) In an ironic consequence of the ongoing economic crisis—the one he's traversing the country to assuage voters' angst about—few media companies can afford to send reporters on both Air Force One and Air Force Two.
We finally have a vice president who loves to talk, and the poor guy is stuck with just me and a Bloomberg reporter. "Bloomberg still has money," cracks one of Biden's aides.
Traveling with Biden instead of his boss is notable for other reasons, too. The vice president rarely avails himself of the closed private cabin up front in the 757. He prefers to sit with his staff, at a table or in an aisle seat from which he can see the entire plane. When it's dinnertime, everyone is served chili in plastic bowls. The vice president has a choice of basically anything he wants. He wants the chili.
Twice during the cross-country tour, the veep makes his way to the back of the plane, past the cabin jammed with White House doctors and Secret Service, to schmooze his traveling press corps. In his morning visit between D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin, he's revved up about his mission for today. He is leaning over the seat in front of me and Kate Brower, the Bloomberg reporter, occasionally making his point by touching our hands. Only Joe Biden can do this like a gentleman. He tells us he believes—and thinks the people believe—that "the stimulus did exactly what it was supposed to do, but it wasn't enough." And he is positive we'll get almost all the TARP money back. "It has a sell-by date on it, man." (Biden calls everybody "man.") He leaves us with this parting thought: "I used to say to my late wife, 'I have great faith in the American people.' And she would say, 'How much faith would you have in them if you lost?' " With this guy, probably the same amount.
Over the course of the day, he will talk quite a bit about his family. First the one he lost so horrifically in 1972, weeks after he was elected one of the youngest senators in history, when a car accident at Christmastime killed his wife, Neilia, and their infant daughter, and gravely injured his two sons, then aged 2 and 3. And then the family life he so cherishes now, with his grown sons, his second wife, Jill, and the daughter they had together.
There will also be a lot of mentions of Scranton, where both of us happen to come from ("Yer kiddin' me! Yer jokin'!" Big hug. "Well, I'll be damned!") and one of us loves to talk about. We do a good ten minutes on Scranton—who lived closest to the Caseys, which hoagie shop is the best, and his favorite Scrantonism ("God love 'em")—and I am convinced it is the Scranton thing that gets me an extra twenty minutes of interview time.
We have our first of two private sessions in a generic conference room in Madison shortly after he speaks to a crowd of Wisconsinites who are even more laid-back than usual. In fact, they seem comatose. Biden, God love him, not only picks this up right away but also feels the urge in midspeech—midsentence, actually, while saying something about China—to blurt out, "You're the dullest audience I've ever spoken to!" The audience titters uncomfortably. Well, at least he got their attention.
Have you been back to Scranton since the '08 campaign?
I go back a lot. For the last thirty-five years, any time Scranton needs something… I don't know how to say no to them. For real. I really don't. You know, it's still home. I moved outta there when I was 11 years old, but probably till I was 16, we spent every holiday up there. And almost every summer. And when I got married, to Neilia, my deceased wife, there were six, seven guys in the wedding and three of them were from Scranton… When did you move away?
[Not soon enough.] Wasn't it interesting that Scranton became kind of like the new Peoria during the presidential campaign?
It symbolized the pulse of the country.
Well you know what it was? One of the things that was really cool—and these guys'll tell you—on election night, I wanted to know the results of one place. I wanted to know what the results were in northeast Pennsylvania. And I was really pleased we won.
They came through for you then.
Oh, they did. They did. It's a loyal area, man. There used to be an old bad joke. I hope it's not so much a good joke anymore. "Everybody's from Scranton, no one's in Scranton."
So how is it that the Great Orator and the Great Talker—two of the best communicators we've ever had running the country—can't seem to deliver their message?
Well, I think we are, Lisa. I think that they're like the people we grew up with in Scranton. Because, think about it. I mean, every single recession, who are the guys that get clobbered? Okay? We're always the first ones in and the last ones out. Think how many people you know in Scranton that are going to bed tonight, staring at the ceiling, and wondering whether or not they're gonna keep their kid in school or whether or not they're gonna lose their house. Just normal people. And sometimes fairly well-educated people.
I think when the political pundits write about this election, they're gonna say that voters took a longer amount of time to make up their minds this time than any time in recent history. And the reason is, when you're angry, when you feel you have been just not treated well, you want to dwell on that. You don't want to have to make a choice. You know, my Grandpop Finnegan used to have an expression, he used to say, "Joey, the guy in Olyphant's out of work, it's an economic slowdown. When your brother-in-law's out of work, it's a recession. When you're out of work, it's a depression." And so I think a lot of people are just now beginning to say, "Okay, dammit, I gotta make a choice here."
The two major things you've done, you and the president, health care and the stimulus, are both successes.
So how come you can't get that across?
Well, let me put it this way: They are not sufficient. I think people will grant us that they were, on balance, the important things to do. But other than in the health care industry, they didn't create many jobs in their mind. . . that's not where most people are. And most people are out there saying, "Okay, now tell me how I am going to be employed or keep my job or keep my house." And part of what they're doing now is, they're beginning to look—if you look at the polling data—they're beginning to say, "All right, will you turn it around? Just tell me. I want to know."
When they ask that, how do you answer?
I say we have turned it around, and here's how we're gonna create the jobs. We're not gonna go back to those policies that in fact stripped you of your job. Look, the basic difference between us and Republicans is—and they're good guys—they still genuinely believe this idea of the Laffer curve. That if you cut taxes—even though it hadn't worked twice when they tried it—it's gonna create jobs. Secondly, I think they sort of mistrust average middle-class people. Mistrust in the following way: It's a little bit like, These folks don't know what's good for them. So if we just put the guys and the women with money and power sort of back in the driver's seat, it'll all work out.
But the sense of disillusionment—the people who say, "Inauguration day was so incredible, and now the hope is gone," is this—
See, I really don't think the hope is gone. I don't think the majority of the American people think the hope is gone. What they're looking for is reassurance. You know what it's a little bit like? You ask the girl out in high school, and it didn't work out, and you're really excited about this next person, but you're just not sure.… "I got turned down by Mary; do I want to ask Lisa? Tell me, is there a reason to be hopeful here?" So it's not that they've given up. I think you're seeing increasing confidence growing in people, saying, "We are moving in the right direction." But the other thing I think is that people are pretty smart. They know this isn't gonna happen quickly. I don't think anybody out there really thought this was gonna come back in two years.
Is it all the economy? If things start to percolate, do you think the American people will go back to feeling inspired by the president?
Yeah, I do. Because, look, the other piece about it is that these very conservative Republicans who are winning are getting a bye on the things that Americans really disagree upon, the social issues. They come up with pretty Draconian answers on social issues. And so because jobs are the most important, they're actually getting a bye on not having to explain their views on issues like a woman's choice.
You were saying earlier how the stimulus plan and health care perfectly fit into the Republican narrative of "tax-and-spend liberals."
Yeah. And what [people] are starting to find out now—that's why you're gonna see health care turn around—they're starting to find out that what they're told is simply not true. Their premiums haven't gone up. They're not in a position where their companies are dropping health care. They're in a position where the small-business guys who want to give their employees health care are getting a tax cut for doing that. And it's, like, almost a surprise when I do these things, "Coffee with Joe"—[He turns to Jay Carney, his communications director.] What do they call them?
Carney: Coffee with Joe.
Biden: I don't like the title. But we do these things in towns where we go in and sit in a diner and let people ask us questions and stuff. And it's, like, almost surprise you get from some [businesspeople]: "Jeez, I didn't know. I get a tax cut? That's great."
But again, how much is this a matter of not communicating it right?
Well, it's not so much not communicating it right, it's just there's so much to communicate. And so it's starting to break through. But look. The reason I use that quote from [former Boston mayor] Kevin White ["Don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative"] is that, in the meantime, while this is breaking through, it's important to point out honestly what these guys are gonna do if they gain control. And you know, I really don't think there's many people right now who think that Barack and I aren't more likely to win reelection than not. Which is kind of a window. Nothing's certain. I'm not saying we're… But, if you notice, it's all about this election now, which it should be, and it's usually not extrapolated into, "Well, the Republicans are gonna win in 2012." And part of that is because intuitively people know we started moving in the right direction. We got this thing rolling. It's not there yet for a lot of people. It also is there for a lot of people.
Do you think the perception of the president as aloof and not caring is a bad rap?
I really do. Look, one of the things I've never been accused of is not caring about people. And so I think I'm a pretty good judge of folks who are. I watch this guy; I have lunch with him every single week. We sit for an hour alone, and there's nothing on our agenda, just the two of us. I spend—when we're both in town? I spend three, five, six hours a day with him, I mean literally.
Really. I start off with the presidential daily brief, which is on the economy, on national security. I meet with him when he meets once a week with Clinton and Gates. I meet with him when any congressman or senator or governor's involved. I meet with him when there's any event that has to do with foreign policy. I'm engaged. I'm with him in the situation room, because I do so much on the foreign-policy side. And so I watch the guy. And I find nothing, nothing about him that's aloof. Look, I judge people in large part by how they treat people who wait on them at a table. Watch him. Watch how he treats ordinary people. There's nothing aloof about him.
So what is it?
I think what it is, is he's so brilliant. He is an intellectual. And the president, in a strange way, has more faith in the American people than about anybody I know. He sits there and says, "Look, we just tell 'em. Just tell them." It's almost kind of a blind faith. You know, when someone will say to him, "Well, look, Mr. President, you really oughta do it this way." [He says] "No. The American people get this. Just tell them. Just go out there and do the right thing." I don't want to—I'm not making him—he's not a moralizer. But he's just… Look, think about the guy. This is an African-American who had a Caucasian mother, raised in a Caucasian neighborhood by Caucasian grandparents. Talk about a guy who knows what it's like. This is a guy who gets it. This is a guy, for example, when we were talking about making compromises on health care just to get it done, he said, "Look, this is an historic opportunity. What about all those poor whites? What about all those black men who are gonna be left out? No, this is it." He has a great expression. He says—and the reason why I'm confident we'll be reelected—he says, "Look, I always joke, I always wanted to be a former president. If it has to be in four years, so be it. As long as we do the right thing."
One of the reasons we kind of balance each other? I probably am too much of Scranton. Hi, you know, hug, touch. It was the way I was raised. Whereas he is not, you know, emotive that way. I think that's why we make such a good team.
You said earlier that Obama knew, before the election, that he could never meet the expectations.
Yeah. I mean, the expectations were sooo inordinately high. But I think, in a sense—and this is gonna sound strange to you, probably—that the expectations of the press were higher than the people's expectations. Because here comes this guy who is, you know, handsome, smart, athletic, ran an incredible campaign. This guy's got a backbone like a ramrod, a brain bigger than his skull, and a heart that just keeps beatin'. And so the press saw that, too.
I don't think you'll find any Republican or Democrat, scholar or student, who'll tell you that he didn't accomplish more in the first two years than about anybody since Franklin Roosevelt. The only disagreement is, Republicans will say he accomplished too much of the wrong thing. And some on the left say he accomplished mostly good things but not enough of it. The truth of the matter is that I think the American people know where this guy's heart is.
Have you seen him vulnerable? Is he bothered when the polls drop?
You know what I find him bothered by? I find him bothered by suggestions from the opposition or even from some Democrats—I won't tell you the particular issue, because I keep my advice to him [private]. We're in a meeting and someone suggested, "Look, one of the easy ways to deal with one of the attacks is, just go ahead and let a couple of these programs expire." And he said, "Wait a minute, why would I do that? There's X number of people being helped by that." "Well, you know, it would be good politics." That's when he gets—he stiffens his back like, Whoa. And he'll say, "Why did we come here?" See, the thing I like about the guy—I've dealt with eight presidents—his initial response is—and he's not naive, he's a good politician—but he'll stiffen and say, "Why did we come here?" Look, of all the people I've ever worked with, I've never seen a guy make as many difficult decisions. My dad used to have an expression. He used to say, "Joey, never complain and never explain." That's what I like about Barack Obama.
Do you talk about personal things?
Yeah, we do a lot.
Do you double-date?
Well, actually, we double-date in a bizarre way. We double-date where it affects our kids and my grandkids. Let me give you an example. Every Saturday morning, in basketball season, my little number three granddaughter, Maisy, is on the same basketball team as Sasha. So what we'll do is, we'll call and say, "Are you going to the game?" and so we'll end up, the four of us—Jill, me and Michelle and Barack—in a gymnasium, a little junior-high gymnasium in Montgomery County [Maryland], and there'll be like 8,000 Secret Service agents and us sittin' there, and everybody is like, Whoa. I'll give you another example. Early this week, we're at a national security thing and he says to me, "Hey, you know, Maisy is learning how to pick and roll." And I said, "Is that right?" And he said, "Yeah." And he said, "Reggie and I had her over." He called my granddaughter to come to the White House on the weekend, because he thinks she's a great athlete, and to teach her. So what he did was, he put on a little clinic with Reggie [Love, his personal aide] who played for Duke, with Sasha and my two granddaughters. "Okay, girls, doing drills!"
Everybody says, "Well, how do you get along?" It's been easy for one overwhelming reason. If you look at the campaign, when we were debating each other, the two guys who agreed on almost everything of the seven were he and I. Almost everything. So we are simpatico in terms of policy.… And the thing I really like about the relationship is I completely trust him. I have no reluctance to tell him when I disagree. I have no reluctance to really make a strong argument. But he's the president. I make my case, he listens to it, and he's kept his word.
He asked me what I wanted to do [as vice president]. I said, "I don't want a portfolio—and I'm not in any way belittling anyone in the past—I don't want to reinvent government. The things I'll do are things that have a sell-by date on them. Give me major assignments like Iraq or missile defense in Europe or taking care of the Recovery Act or whatever. But what I really want, Mr. President"—and I didn't call him Mr. President [at that point]—"I want to be the last guy in the room. On every important decision. And I understand you're president and I'll be vice president, but I didn't hang around all these years for the honor of being vice president."
[Jay tells us it's time to wrap up the first session.]
Thank you! I didn't realize you're a Scranton girl!
How 'bout that.
Oh, man, isn't that funny? And by the way, I took the boys up, my two grown sons, when I had to speak at the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick [the all-men annual dinner on parade weekend]. You know it?
I do. I had to speak at the women's dinner. They must have been really hard up.
You did? Yer kidding me! That is cool!
[By way of explaining to Jay] The men and the women have separate events.
Oh, I know! By the way, I wouldn't do it the second time unless there were women [invited]. Now they have them at the head table. They used to have the women be in the rooms of the Hotel Casey, and they'd play it on the radio, and the men would go to the dinner.
You mean, like a year ago?
Exactly! [laughs] And so the last time I did it, I brought the boys in. I said, "Guys, you gotta see this." And all these guys are dressed in tuxedos, and you know what they bring to the table? Cases of Schaefer beer. Am I joking?
Nope. That's Scranton.
Anyway, it's just funny as hell. I want to talk about Scranton more. [Jay gives him the evil eye.] I know, I know, I know. I'm going.
For the rest of the day, the veep manages to be both passionate and pissed off in a way that his boss has yet to grasp. "I'm angry, too!" he says, convincingly, about the economic mess. And then he tells the stories about his father in Scranton, the cue-up-the-violin stories about how the elder Joe Biden had to "make the long journey up the stairs" to little Joey's bedroom to tell him he'd lost his job. It's moving, and he connects with his audiences. But let's face it: This is nothing compared to the hoo-ha of the '08 campaign.
Late at night, on the way from Missouri to Washington State, Biden makes another trek to the back of the plane. He bounds down the aisle with his iPad. "Alan [his deputy chief of staff] thought you'd want to see this," he says, beaming. It's a photo of his German shepherd, Champ. His wife, Jill—the kind of woman who snuck into his West Wing office on Valentine's Day and wrote "I love you" and "Joe loves Jill" in red on the windows—gave it to him for Christmas. His grandkids picked the name, but the dog is named after….well, him. Until the day she died last January, his feisty mom always called him Joey. But his late father called him Champ. This leads to a ten-minute discussion of every dog Joe Biden ever had. At one point, after law school, he had dogs named Governor and Senator. Not President? He laughs. Perhaps that was an omen. He notes that Champ has yet to meet the First Dog, Bo, "but I always tell Barack, 'My dog's smarter than your dog.' "
By the time we land in Seattle, the vice president, now 68, has been up for nineteen hours straight. But while everyone else is dragging their asses, he still looks as fresh and immaculate as he did at eight in the morning. While much is made about the seeming incongruity of Biden's blue-collar roots and his elegant wardrobe, he got this from his dad—who managed, even when unemployed, to get up every morning and dress to the nines.
Earlier that night, on the drive from his dinner-party event in Springfield, Missouri (for Robin Carnahan, who was running for the Senate and would get crushed), to the airport, I am invited into the vice presidential limo for the final part of our interview. It's a lot smaller inside than I expected, I tell him.
"Yeah!" says Biden. "But I'm not president. This is the vice president." In fact, this used to be President Bush's limo, which Biden gets a charge out of.
Do you feel a little softer toward George W. now?
Yeah. Look, I think that uh… the answer is yes. I do. And by the way, he's been very generous since he left office.
So how much do you love the job?
Well, my dad used to have an expression. He'd say, "It's a lucky person who gets up in the morning and puts both feet on the floor, knows what he or she's about to do, and thinks it still matters." I think this matters. I didn't want the job at first, didn't think I would particularly like it. But because of the partnership and the way the president has engaged me and used me, it's been very rewarding.
In the Atlantic article, one line that was so telling was when [one of Obama's vetters] said, "Why do you want to be vice president?" And you said, "I don't."
I didn't. That's absolutely the God's truth…. I said, "Guys, I don't. If he wants me, I'll do it. But I don't."
And you're not gonna switch jobs with Hillary?
Nooo. The president already asked me whether I'd run with him again, and I said, "Sure, Mr. President, if you want me to run, I'd be delighted to do it again." I believe in this guy. And he knows anything he gives me, I'll do and get done and that I'll have his back.
Now, when something like the Bob Woodward thing gets reported [Woodward went on TV and said it was "on the table" to switch Hillary and Biden], does Obama call you?
No, I mean he never… I mean, there isn't any doubt in my mind or his. And look, in a way it's kind of flattering. They're saying, "Well, Joe should be secretary of state." I mean, she's doing a good job as secretary of state. I talk to Hillary. Hillary has actually raised it with me. Hillary and I have breakfast at my home at seven thirty once a week when we're both in town. We've been doing it since the beginning. We're good friends! And you know, I think we're all in the right spot. I think it's a good team.
Do you get more advice or give more advice to Hillary?
Well, look, Hillary and I have a close personal relationship. And that's why, if you recall, when I got out of the primaries, I didn't endorse. I wouldn't endorse Hillary or Barack. I mean, I agreed with him on almost everything and she was my good friend. Loyalty matters. And so Hillary has been, um—we ask for each other's advice. Hillary—just like when we were in the Senate—would say to me, "Joe, what do you think about this?" And when we have our breakfasts, they're the kinds of things we talk about. I'll tell her what I'm working on, and she'll tell me, and we'll ask each other what we think. So in that sense, yeah, we do.
It's been said [by Woodward and others] that you were the skeptical voice throughout all the Afghanistan discussions. Is that true?
Look, um, [laughs] there's so much out [there]—quotes that Bob Woodward had. I'm not disputing anything he said. But I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment. One of the reasons the President trusts me is that he asks for my advice, and I give my advice even when he doesn't ask for it, because he knows that he's the only one I'm giving it to. And whatever his response is stays with me, and whatever advice I give him stays with me. So I'm not gonna break the rule of commenting on any advice I give the President.
You said a few times today in speeches that your proudest accomplishment was the Violence Against Women Act. Is that really the thing you're most proud of?
And it wasn't like a personal—
No, thank God. But what it was—it was about abuse of power. My dad used to say, "The cardinal sin one can commit is to abuse power."
When you look back at the past year, what were the highest point and the lowest point? For you.
Well, on a personal note, the highest point this year was when my son [Beau] came home from Iraq. But also one of the highest points of this year was when we finally brought the 100,000 troops home from Iraq. They did not occur at the same time, but they were very high points. And because the president made a commitment, and he kept it, and he did it in a way that it did not in any way do anything but strengthen our circumstance in Iraq.
Because I was such a critic of the Bush administration's policy and how they conducted the war, I was really—it was unexpected, but I was pleased when the president turned the policy over to me. Completely over to me. So I was able to do the things I wanted to do. They are, knock on wood, as my mom used to say, they're succeeding. I'm confident we're going to be able to leave Iraq a secure place, not a threat to its neighbors, and bring all our troops home again.
How worried were you about Beau?
Well, because I'd been to Iraq—I think now, what is it? fifteen times?—I knew the conditions around the country. The only time I really worried about it was when I knew he had to be in an up-armored Humvee or a vehicle to go off… because it's so random. It's still a dangerous place. I wasn't worried every day, but it's always in your mind. That's why Jill and I spend so much time with military families. Because literally every day there's a hollowness. I remember Jill came to Iraq with me on July Fourth. And I said to Jill as we were coming back, "You know, I kinda felt guilty coming, because I got to come over here three times or four times during the year Beau was there." And she looked at me and said something I think probably every mother in the world would have said, and I thought, what a jerk [I am], how could I not realize it? She said, "Joe, I'm glad I didn't come over when he was here, because I could have never left without taking him home."
So the lowest point this year?
Well, uh, I really haven't had a point where there's been a low point, where it seemed like, "Oh God."
Well, you lost your mom.
Yeah, and my mom was such a part of me and my family. But I was thankful, because the last several years of her life, I got to kiss her good morning every morning and kiss her good night every night.
You've had so much fortune and yet so much heartache.
Everybody has bad times. Look, I was really lucky. Every really, really tough thing I've ever gone through, I've had the advantage of having family there for me. You know, I just wonder how people do it without the kind of support I've had. My sister is an angel. My mother was… [He gets choked up.] So I've been very lucky.
And Jill is extraordinary.
Jill is extraordinary. I knew I was gonna marry this girl as soon as I met her. By the way, I know I got in trouble when we were introduced in Springfield [Illinois, the day he was announced as Obama's running mate], and I brought her up on stage and I said, "I want you to meet my wife, she's drop-dead gorgeous." She is drop-dead gorgeous. But I also said, "She also has her Ph.D., her doctorate." She is really incredible. She put my life back together. She…she is amazing.
And she raised your children.
That's why she married me! I had to ask her five times.
Did you really?
Yeah, I did. Five times. Finally, the last time, I said, "Look, my pride. This is it. It's the last time I'm asking."
What was she worried about?
Well, she was worried about being married to a senator. She didn't want to be in the spotlight. She wanted to be absolutely sure, because she'd fallen in love with the boys. The boys actually asked her to marry me.
I give you my word. They came in one morning before school. Beau was 10 or 11 and Hunt was 9 or 10. And Beau said, "Well, Dad, Hunt and I were talking, and we think we should marry Jill."
That is so great.
Look, no man or woman deserves one great love of their life, let alone two. And the amazing thing to me was that Jill, knowing how much I had adored Neilia… Uh, I once asked her, I said, "How could you marry me, knowing how much…?" She said, "Any man who can love greatly once can do it twice." Now, a man wouldn't say that! At least I wouldn't have said that, probably. I'd have been jealous, man.
That's so sweet.
That's real. She's an incredible person, she really is. And the good news about her? She's one of five sisters. You should always marry into a family of sisters, because it guarantees at any one time at least one of them loves you. [laughs] No matter what.
I want to talk about your "gaffes." I sometimes wish the president made some gaffes.
Well, look. I think he is pretty darn good. When the president asked me to join the ticket, I joked with him, I said, "There's two conditions. One, I'm not gonna wear any funny hats. And two, I'm not gonna change my brand." And I have found that [with] most people, candor generates trust.
Are you conscious of it at any time? Like today, for instance, I thought it was hilarious when you called the audience "dull."
Oh yeah. [all excited] I joked, because I knew they wanted to respond. So I said, "You guys are the dullest crowd I've ever…" And look, it's just who I am! And it's not just that I want to be stubborn, that I'm not gonna change. But, like, it's who I AM. And, um, it's always—how can I say it?—it's always worked for me.… For example, we were having trouble getting the Poles to agree to a new antimissile architecture, and no one would listen. I went to see Tusk, and he said, "Just tell me." I said, "I'm telling you." And that was it. Literally in the meeting, he said okay. You know, my ability to pick up the phone and just say things to Netanyahu… I mean, to talk to Maliki or… It's one of the things that I—it's, to me, the most important currency. And by the way, I'm not pontificating. I'm not, like, "I'm more, you know, trustworthy." But it's just… My dad used to have an expression. He said, "You're a man of your word. Without your word, you're not a man." It's really basic, basic stuff.
So many people have analyzed or psychoanalyzed your career—
Tell me how you look at it. Do you feel like you missed the big dream?
So how do you feel?
I look back on my career as, um… [long pause] as meeting every expectation I had, and the expectations I had, I have had, is that, um… You know, people always ask me, and the press asks me, [even] these guys ask me [meaning Carney and the rest of his staff]: "Where the hell do you get your energy?" Well, some of it's genetic, and some of it is I'm in good shape. But the main thing it is… I was talking to Doc—the colonel who's assigned to me as a doctor—and joking about it. And I said, "Doc, you gotta give me a medical explanation"—joking—"why I can go so long." And he looked at me and he said, "Eh, genes." But he said, "You love what you do." And I do. Because you actually, you know—it's not hard. I mean, I remember what it was like to just be ridiculed because I stuttered. I remember what it was like when my dad lost his job. I remember what it was like when I lost Neilia. I remember what it was like.
Source: Gentlemen's Quarterly
We can finally say it in the most literal sense -- "JOE BIDEN: GQ MUTHAFUCKER". Also, long article is LOOOOOONG SWEET JESUS, but it's J. fucking BIDDY, and in a straightforward question/answer format anyway, so it's really not that daunting.