Saturday, August 22, 2020

Required watching - Joe Biden's other speech on coping with grief

Tim Miller writing in thebulwark has comments on Biden’s speech at the DNC. But, and more, he recommends what he thinks as an even better speech Biden delivered back in 2012.

In yesterday’s newsletter I expressed a weariness with the Zoom convention and wondered if four days were really necessary. Some readers objected to this and, well, score one for the readers.

The fourth night of the Democratic convention was brilliantly executed, kudos to Stef Cutter and my friend Addisu Demissie and the whole team over there for putting together a climactic evening that even left the cold hearts at Fox News gushing.

I knew things were beginning to turn when 13 year old Brayden from New Hampshire spoke about the stutter that he was overcoming in front of a nation-wide audience and by his mere presence showing not just telling the viewers about the contrast between courage and Trump’s cruelty.

But it wasn’t just Brayden. That was just the appetizer. What followed is what broke me. First the Biden grandchildren speaking so lovingly and earnestly about their Pop broke through amidst the sea of stilted politician Zooms. When they said that they called the family meeting to surprise their Pop by telling him they thought he must run for president for the country and for their dad/uncle Beau. Man. It started getting dusty in Oakland and it wasn’t just the air from the fire.

Then it was time for the VP. And I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. It’s a tough format, and excellent public speakers like Kamala struggled to get in the flow a little bit. Plus while I recognize that the “mental acuity” attacks on Biden are noxious hyperbole, if we are being honest his performances to date on the trail have been uneven. All he really needed to accomplish last night was a check the box acceptance speech that didn’t make anyone question whether he was in command. (and btw thank you Trumpers and conservative media for setting the bar there!) And frankly that’s all I was expecting.

But then the closer came out of the pen and well…

Biden brought the mustard. The speech had a clear theme. He demonstrated passion and empathy and decency. He let loose some righteous anger. He did what everyone has been yearning for since March and spoke directly to the families who have lost loved ones to this plague. And he closed with a damn Irish poet saying “make hope and history rhyme.” It was 100% unadulterated Joe and I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t shed a tear.

I was on Charlie [Sykes’] podcast this morning and so you can hear more of our thoughts on the Biden performance there but I wanted to share one thing that we discussed after the show was over. Both of us we were caught off guard by how emotionally attached we were last night to this candidacy. We had sort of expected to feel this reluctant, begrudging support for the Democratic nominee, to have been left in a tough spot between one normal bad choice and one existentially bad one. But that isn’t what happened. Joe Biden has me energized. And frankly, that he has both Charlie and I reflecting on whether maybe in the past we were just…in the wrong…

One final thing. I did see a lot of people saying last night that this was his best speech ever. And while it was certainly his best speech of the campaign, if you have not seen his speech to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) speech in 2012, it’s worth your 19 minutes.

After just watching that speech on YouTube, I second Tim’s recommendation.

Below is the teaser and the link to that speech.

Vice President Biden Discusses Grief at TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors).

Vice President Joe Biden talks with surviving families of our fallen military heroes at the opening session of the 18th Annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar, held over Memorial Day Weekend in 2012. Biden discussed the death of his wife and young daughter in a car accident and how he dealt with grief in an emotional speech for the families of fallen military service members. More than 2,000 people participated in the four-day weekend event offering comfort and care to anyone grieving the death of someone who served in the military, regardless of where they died or how they died. More information about TAPS is available at

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