Now, I didn't like his voting against John Roberts and Samuel Alito, but I understand why he did it, and I didn't object to his questioning the hearings. Simulblogging the hearings, this is the worst thing I ever said about Biden:
Joe Biden is hamming it up big time, dramatizing the frustration of not getting Roberts to say how he'll decide specific cases. We've been through this so many times, but Biden seems to think that, if he just emotes more than the others, the American public will finally see the outrage of a judge not committing his vote before hearing the case. Yet every time Roberts explains why he won't answer, he sounds so eloquent and even inspiring about the role of the judge, that it ends up making the Senator look childish.I was pretty nice to Biden over the "clean and articulate" gaffe, and basically, I can see that I haven't disliked Joe Biden .
But there's one thing that really stood out in all those posts, and that was his discussion of religion at the debate that took place September 27, 2007. From my live-blogging:
What is your favorite Bible verse? Obama says Sermon on the Mount, but then blabs generically. Hillary Clinton says "The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Which is not exactly a Bible verse, but okay. Why should the candidates be ready to recite Bible verses? Kucinich holds up a card with a prayer from St. Francis, which fits his theme (peace) but, again, isn't a Bible verse. Edwards is impressive with "What you do unto the least of those, you do unto me." This resonates with his poverty theme, and I like the way he doesn't point out that it does. Richardson says the Sermon on the Mount. Yeah, well, Obama already said that so it's boring. You had time to think of a specific verse in the Sermon to distinguish yourself. "Blessed are the peacemakers" would have been so easy. Gravel: Love! Dodd cites the Good Samaritan. Biden: "Christ's warning of the Pharisees." Which is a clever answer to the question, essentially critiquing the question. The idea is: Don't parade your religion in public.The next day, I reflected on that:
Last night at the big debate, Tim Russert asked each of the Democratic candidates to recite their favorite Bible verse. They all made a stab at the assigned task. No one rebelled against the assignment. Who would dare to use the occasion to do a little lecture on the importance of the separation of church and state? It worked for Bush, back in 2000, to sidetrack a question about philosophy into religion and say that Jesus was his favorite philosopher, so who will be bold enough to veer away from an invitation to display religiosity?Here is video of the debate. If you start at 6:04, you'll have a little laugh before the relevant material begins and you can hear what all the candidates say about their favorite Bible verse. To hear just Biden, begin at 8:01:
Joe Biden came the closest, when he said "Christ's warning of the Pharisees." If you understand the reference, it actually is a subtle way to imply that religion should not be used publicly for the purpose of achieving worldly goals. It's good to remind religious people -- especially religious people who crave more religion in their politics -- that Jesus set his religion apart from politics and gives Christians a religious basis for the separation of church and state.
Now, I'm especially interested in what Biden said there because I was just talking to Bob Wright about the candidates and religion, and he was knocking John McCain for failing to take more opportunities to "witness" to his Christianity, and my immediate response to that was Christ's warning of the Pharisees:
I discussed this a couple days ago, and I was guessing that maybe Bob was reflecting his Baptist background, and I my Episcopalian background, while McCain was had a basically Episcopalian orientation, but had, more recently switched to Baptist, and perhaps this could help us understand McCain's varying levels of expressed religiosity. And now, here is Biden showing what I'd theorized was the Episcopalian style. Biden is Catholic.
Episcopalian, Catholic, whatever... I like this modesty about religion in public life.