Thursday, September 4, 2008

Who is Joe Biden?

Where is Joe Merchant? Both are mysteries. I turned to Jimmy Buffett to answer the latter, looking toward Warren Buffet for the former. Warren could only offer a song, so there is still some doubt in both counts. It is a funny thing living in a state where your vote might actually count: you should probably try to learn something about the candidates. I regret not having people around me on both sides of the fence politically. It made for interesting conversation, as well as a chance to learn something amidst the crossfire.

Biden’s website does little to stir my emotions other than to make me think of Hallmark or American Greetings cards of the highly cursive variety. The copy on the site covers a spectrum from bland to poor. How is it possible that someone in the public eye, someone with a knack for crafting winning legislation can front such banality? Aha! Sweet Wikipedia, the source of potentially incorrect information, steer me toward controversy! In 1988, according to said source, Biden plagiarized a bit of melodrama from a speech by British Labour Party Leader, Kinnock. Hard to fault him for culling the tones of a Briton, but no citation is a poor citation. In engineering shorthand: NG. What’s that Wiki? Oh, he plagiarized in law school as well? Was the incident brought before any sort of Honor Committee? No. The incident was dismissed and the course grade ultimately dropped. From the outside this seems reasonable based on Biden’s claim of ignorance at referencing etiquette, but in fact, no, it is not reasonable. The fact is that university systems are plagued today by mechanics that make truly actioned responses entirely impossible; faculty are burdened by the very notion of reporting violations for fear of initiating processes lengthy as their own tenures rather than those of the students in question. So, again, Biden: NG.

In stepping back a bit, I am further displeased by this potential lack of academic integrity based on yet another piece of linguistic evidence (this time free of the Wikipedia wellspring): the naming of Biden’s legislation. Consider two examples: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the College Affordability and Creating Chances for Educational Success for Students (ACCESS) Act. The first seems to be an excellent piece of legislation, but in my immediate mind, I cannot offer a more inappropriate misnomer, coupled with an acronym that makes me wonder if VAGA or VULVA was only narrowly defeated just before press time. As for the latter, again, I have to raise issue at being a slave to the acronym. If this is the manifestation of original thought, perhaps we would be better off having a ghostwriter. Maybe John Updike has some spare time.

What do I like about Biden? The answer is certainly not his moldy history with original published thought. Alaska is a much better place than Delaware, though George Thorogood does put on a good show with his Destroyers. No, the one thing that might have me convinced despite the apparent history of misplacing the thoughts of others is his surprising willingness in lending a hand to local businessmen, even in rival states.

That is the sort of thing that we need now. Harry Doyle, I support you for Office.

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