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Obama Awards Biden The Presidential Medal Of Freedom In Surprise White House Tribute

WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama on Thursday awarded Vice President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, during a surprise event at the White House paying tribute to him.

Moving Biden to tears, Obama hailed him as “the best vice president America has ever had” and “a lion of American history.” As he reached his concluding remarks, Obama surprised Biden by announcing the honor, a medal of freedom with distinction. The special version of the medal, Obama said, had been awarded under his three predecessors to only three other people: Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Biden, already teary during the tribute, began crying when the award was announced.

“I had no inkling,” Biden said, taking the podium after Obama awarded him the medal.

Obama honored Biden’s lifetime of public service, including his decades in the Senate and eight years as vice president. He pointed to Biden’s championing of the Violence Against Women Act, his diplomacy, his “cancer moonshot,” and his “It’s On Us” campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

“That’s a pretty remarkable legacy, an amazing career in public service. It is, as Joe once said, a big deal,” Obama said, pausing between the “big” and the “deal.”

Obama’s tribute built on remarks he made during his Tuesday farewell address, when he called Biden his “brother.”

“To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best,” Obama said in Chicago on Tuesday. “Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.”

Both men have been outspoken about the deep friendship they have forged over their eight years in the White House, and Thursday’s event was no different, with both speaking in personal terms about each other and their families.

“Behind the scenes, Joe’s candid, honest counsel has made me a better president and a better commander in chief,” Obama said. “From the Situation Room, to our weekly lunches, to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he has been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree. In fact, especially when we disagree. And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest vice president we have ever seen.”

“I tell everybody, and I have told them from the beginning, and I am not saying this to reciprocate: I have never known a president, and few people I have ever met in my whole life ― I can count on less than one hand ― who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do,” Biden said to Obama.

“I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country,” he added later. “Remarkable things.”

Of the honor, Biden said: “I don’t deserve this. But I know it came from the president’s heart. There is a Talmudic saying that says, what comes from the heart enters the heart. Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart, you and your whole family, including Mom, and you occupy it.”

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3 lessons you can learn from Joe Biden’s career about overcoming obstacles

On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom With Distinction, the highest honor a civilian can receive.

Getting to that podium, however, was not without difficulty. Biden’s lengthy career in politics has featured multiple personal and professional setbacks, including the deaths of three family members.

Still, it seems Biden has lived by the advice his father once gave him: “Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.”

Biden’s career, with all of its ups and downs, teaches three valuable lessons about success.

1. Struggles, even tragedies, don’t need to keep you from pursuing your goals

In November 1972, at 30 years old, Biden was elected to the Senate, winning by a margin of just 3,000 votes. Only a month after the professional victory, disaster upended his life.
While shopping for a Christmas tree, Biden’s wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident. His sons Beau and Hunter were badly injured but survived.
Biden initially said he would not accept the Senate nomination, but after Majority Leader Mike Mansfield kept calling him, he agreed to take office. Biden took his oath from his sons’ hospital room.
He went on to pursue a career in politics, rising to become Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1987.

2. Learn from mistakes to ensure your legacy

In 1988, Biden entered the presidential race, but reports of plagiarism during law school and false claims about his academic record derailed his campaign. He later admitted to mistakes and pledged to be more candid in the future.

Over time, Biden became seen by many as a uniquely honest public figure. A 2015 CBS News/New York Times poll found that Biden topped the list of the most trustworthy politicians in either party.

In 1991, Biden faced controversy again, this time over his handling of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which involved allegations of sexual harassment by one of his employees, Anita Hill. Biden did not call three other witnesses who could have echoed Hill’s charges, a move that some progressives found unfair.
In the years that followed, Biden promoted legislation that foregrounded women’s concerns. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act, which Biden had introduced to Congress. And as Vice President, he became a chief advocate for the Obama administration’s campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

The VP also racked up other accomplishments: He oversaw a $ 840 billion economic stimulus package, led the administration’s task force to strengthen the middle class, worked to reduce gun violence and became a key player in U.S. foreign relations.

Watch Joe Biden and Colin Powell race each other in Corvettes Watch Joe Biden and Colin Powell race each other in Corvettes
3. Make perseverance your trademark

In 2015, personal tragedy struck again. Biden’s eldest son Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46. Biden’s devastation played a role in his decision not to run for president in 2016, which he now says he “regrets every day.”

But the 74-year-old says he plans to stay actively involved in politics. And if Biden’s career is any indication, that’s not just talk.
“Failure at some point in your life is inevitable,” Biden said in 2008. “But giving up is unforgivable.”

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Joe Biden Is No Bipartisan Role Model

Though his consistently favorable ratings might suggest otherwise, Vice President Joe Biden forged his lengthy political career by convincing Americans that he is someone he is not.

This was once again evident yesterday, when President Obama bestowed upon him the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. The fact that Biden received the medal is problematic enough — the honor must mean little if it can be given to one’s vice president for no particular reason — but the reaction to the award was particularly telling.

Liberals and conservatives alike took to Twitter to praise Biden for a long career of service to America, for rising above partisan politics, for showing us that there is reason to laugh amidst tragedy. Perhaps the constant laughter Biden evokes is the best example of how he achieved this supra-partisan status. The series of memes inspired by whimsical Biden pictures say it best: Americans view him as aw-shucks “Uncle Joe,” a man whose goofy, fun-loving ways and optimistic spirit transcend hostile partisanship and give us all something to love about our usually nasty political arena.

But in fact, Biden’s career serves as a neat summary for much of the ruthlessness that Americans hate about our government, and he has managed to use his gaffe-prone nature to disguise his record of intense, bitterly partisan politicking.

This trick was perhaps never more evident than in his egregious treatment of Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork — whom he successfully prevented from reaching the Court — and his similar but failed effort to prevent Clarence Thomas’s confirmation. Biden treated these two men disgracefully and in doing so played a crucial role in distorting our judicial-confirmation process so severely that it will likely never recover.

Serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986, Biden initially promised to vote for Bork’s confirmation but quickly fell in line with Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy, who lied about Bork’s character and described “Bork’s America” as “a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions.” Moreover, Biden leveled a number of deeply unfair accusations at Bork. Among them: “It appears to me that you are saying that the government has as much right to control a married couple’s decision about choosing to have a child or not as that government has a right to control the public utility’s right to pollute the air.”

The successful effort to torpedo Bork not only improperly politicized the confirmation process, it also led to the appointment of Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court, a decision that changed decades of American jurisprudence. For one thing, had Bork made it onto the Court instead of Kennedy, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey likely would have overturned at least parts of the endlessly flawed Roe v. Wade decision, and several other key court cases would have been decided by a conservative majority.

Biden also used his position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee to delay appeals-court nominees for months on partisan grounds, and he spearheaded the successful effort in 1986 to cast Jeff Sessions as unfit for a judgeship because of his supposed racial animus, going so far as to pressure a key witness into testifying against Sessions despite their friendship. And though he was unable to block Thomas’s confirmation, despite utilizing similarly distasteful tactics, Biden managed to tarnish the man’s reputation so badly that the justice has never quite recovered in the eyes of many Americans.

Biden’s example set a trend for progressives, making it acceptable to label black conservatives as inadequate representatives of their race because of their views. This attitude likely fueled the Smithsonian Museum of African American History’s exclusion of Thomas from its displays, and it motivates racist attacks against conservative leaders such as Ben Carson and South Carolina senator Tim Scott.

Aside from these nasty instances of partisan politics, Biden bears some responsibility for permitting his party to increasingly dogmatize the issue of abortion over time, as he lionized the decision in Roe and since that time has consistently supported most “abortion rights.”

Though the logic of progressivism is arguably such that abortion would have found a foothold in the Democratic party no matter what, Biden and his contemporaries made it nearly impossible for truly pro-life politicians to remain within their party. If they had set a principled example, their party might not have so quickly established a woman’s right to an abortion as a central plank of its platform and as a litmus test for all who call themselves Democrats.

Along with Kennedy, Biden pioneered the normalization of Catholic, Democratic politicians who were “personally pro-life” but who, in the words of former New York governor Mario Cuomo, refused to “impose” that view on the rest of Americans. He did continue to vote against partial-birth abortion and federal funding of the procedure, but Biden undoubtedly forfeited his opportunity to be a voice for the unborn and turn his party away from the evil of abortion.

This moral recalcitrance reveals him to be a weak man, one who knew that abortion is the murder of the innocent and yet, for decades, did nothing. What’s more, he time and again spoke up in favor of a woman’s government-protected right to that murder.

Many people have related touching stories of Biden’s personal kindness to them, and his resilience in the face of his own tragic circumstances cannot be discounted. But the unequivocal suggestion that such a divisive politician — and one who played such a prominent role in the instantiation of the pro-abortion agenda — represents the best of American politics requires ignoring his record in favor of laughing at his memes.

source is super bitter national review

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