A Reason For Pride—And Hope

Joe Biden's vice presidency means one thing for Delawareans, but now he belongs to the nation—and that's for the best.


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Joe Biden was walking toward his office in Washington, D.C., when Strom Thurmond appeared at the other end of a very long hall. He was clearly in as big a hurry as Joe.

Joe nudged my arm. “Watch this,” he said, grinning, waving toward the elder senator. “Hey Strom, talk to this guy. He’s from my home magazine. He’s writing about me.”

Senator Thurmond—a one-time Dixiecrat and living legend among his fellow Republicans—walked over, shook my hand and laughed. “Best man in the Senate,” he said, “best man in the Senate,” then continued down the hall.

“See that?” Joe said, nudging my arm again. “Great guy. It is possible to have friends in Washington. The thing is to remember that we’re all just people. Everyone has a story.”

I fell under a strange spell that day in Washington. That was nearly nine years ago. Today I feel a real joy. We the people of the United States of America have elected our first black president, a man with a story that is nothing less than amazing. And with Barack Obama we have elected the First State’s Joe Biden as vice president. No other Delawarean has risen to so lofty an office. It is our proudest moment.

That Obama chose Joe to be his running mate seemed to me somehow inevitable. Certainly, candidate Obama needed a complement with experience, as well as someone with a sincere, proven interest in civil rights. If he was to be a president who could unite people of all kinds because he could relate to people of all kinds, he could not afford a second who was not equal to the task.

Obama could not have picked better. The rest of the country will soon come to know Joe much differently. They may have seen a rousing campaigner, a Joe who tells it like he sees it, who can “straight talk” every bit as well as his friend John McCain. Not all will trust his ideas or policies. But I hope they get to see a Joe others know, the Joe who sees people for who they are, manages to find something good and admirable in all—even in opponents—a Joe who treats others with respect.

Another example from that day in Washington nine years ago: When a Biden staffer asked the U.S. Senator Jesse Helms—then Joe’s boss on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a man as conservative as any conservative Southern Republican could possibly be—if I could use his office to interview then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about Joe, Helms consented enthusiastically.

Helms considered Joe a friend, and he considered him a friend because, though they were ideological opposites, Joe had, early on, made a point of getting to know him well. Where many people saw a one-time segregationist, Joe saw, below the surface, a man with a heart large enough to adopt and care for an orphan with cerebral palsy. In the highly polarized Clinton years, that friendship and mutual respect signified something good and decent in the often rotten game we call politics.

When I say I fell under a spell that day nine years ago, it is because, though I’d interviewed Senator Biden in the past, I had always been one of several reporters fighting for a moment to discuss the business at hand. I’d never had enough time to get a personal sense of the man. He could, with justifiable pride, tell a great story about winning back the last piece of the old Fort Miles for Cape Henlopen State Park. He could stir enthusiasm during a campaign, for himself and other Democratic candidates, like no one else.

That he had charisma was undeniable. That he had charm was equally undeniable. But these were simply traits successful politicians needed, surface gloss. Ceremonial functions said little about how the man did the real work of governance. In Joe’s case, I learned the work was personal in the best of ways.

On the train to D.C., he spoke about a pending vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the conflict in the Balkans as if anyone would know as much about such things as he. He didn’t dumb down his explanations. He didn’t have to. He had an easy way of characterizing complex issues in simple terms. More important, he wanted these things to be understood. “Mark, the time is critical. We have to decide if we want to be isolationists or if we want to be internationalists." If we the people can’t understand, how can we form sound opinions? How can we be good citizens?

Somehow, I had gotten pulled into the discussion. Intellectually, I knew I was speaking with a senior senator, but I felt like I was conversing with a mentoring professor—one with clear opinions. And this is why Joe’s fans are so intrigued. He is an ordinary man who worked hard to succeed despite great personal tragedy. It so happens that he worked hard in the capital of the free world and, in so doing, has acquired extraordinary knowledge and experience that play out on an international scale.

Yet at the end of the day, he comes home to Delaware, just like any working schlub who commutes on Amtrak. It is the strangest kind of abstraction, yet a familiar one: Do we know a guy named Joe who happens to be a senior senator, or do we know a senior senator who happens to be named Joe?

Does it matter? A Joe Biden seems to be needed more than ever. We make a big deal here about The Delaware Way, an ability to set aside personal differences and party politics to achieve a greater good. Perhaps Joe can foster that kind of cooperation as vice president. Democrats will be the majority in both houses of the coming Congress, which will make it easier for the president to accomplish his goals. But I suspect the new administration doesn’t want to alienate Republicans. Moderation is the order of the day. Perhaps Joe will show a special gift for bringing everyone closer.

At least I hope so. Politics won’t fix an economy or end a war. Cooperation among well-intentioned people will. I have to believe Obama and Joe have the best of intentions and the sincere interest in people that is too often lacking among the Washington elite.

Maybe it is easy for we Delawareans to feel like Joe is truly one of us, a working person like any other. But Joe belongs to the whole country now. I think interested watchers may soon get to know him well enough to feel the same way.

 

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February 2018

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Website »

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The area’s largest sale of gently used books has been scheduled by the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women. The 49th annual Dollars for Scholars Used Book Sale, to...

Cost: free

Where:
Concord Mall
4737 Concord Pike
North Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: American Association of University Women
Telephone: 302-428-0939

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By Simon Stephens (playwright of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time") Directed by Matt Pfeiffer REGIONAL PREMIERE! Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Delaware Theatre Company
200 Water Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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A day of tomfoolery, debauchery and great beer. Come enjoy unlimited beer tastes from the best beers each Delaware brewery has to offer and YOU decide who wins the heavyweight belt for 2018. 

Cost: $29 online, $35 door

Where:
Crooked Hammock Brewery
36707 Crooked Hammock Way
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
Telephone: 302-644-7837
Contact Name: Jon Schorah
Website »

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The Singing Sergeants is the official chorus of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., the group is one of six musical ensembles that comprise...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loudis Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

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Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on February 6, 13, 20 and 27 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Pre-registration is required. As...

Cost: Call for cost.

Where:
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Road
Seaford, DE  19973
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
Contact Name: Nanticoke's Diabetes Education Department
Website »

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Soprano Alissa Rose is a native of Billings, Montana whose multi-faceted career has taken her around the United States and abroad.  She completed her Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

FREE COMMUNITY EVENT: MID-WEEK WORD REFRESHER Come join us at the Mid-Week Word Refresher every Wednesday at Faith Victory Christian Center from 11:00am - 12:00pm. Refreshments will be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
View map »


Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
Website »

More information

Clearing the mind and learning to think not thinking is Zen awareness. Taking the appropriate action in this moment is Zen. Once you know this in your body, walking, standing, sitting down,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
Contact Name: Richard Field
Website »

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An ensemble of five dynamic and brilliant players in their own right, Christiana Winds explores the exciting and unique tradition of wind chamber music from the 18th century to the present. In...

Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
Website »

More information

Show More...
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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum and Library
Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
Website »

More information

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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Glory of Stories introduces young visitors to art and the Museum through a story reading followed by an interactive tour of relevant works of art and a studio art project. This program encourages...

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

This noontime lunch series on the first Friday of every month pairs an engaging 30-minute discussion about a work of art with a delicious lunch in the Thronson Café. Café lunch voucher included...

Cost: $12 Members, $14 Non-Members

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

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Join us for the Art Loop Opening of Terence Roberts' photography exhibit - Inner Light. This show features light-paintings, photographs made at night of gardens, landscapes, and trees. The...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Sponsor: Art Loop Wilmington
Telephone: (302) 658-6262
Contact Name: Marcia Stephenson
Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

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The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

More information

Build a model ship at home and enter it into our home-build contest! Build your ship at the Copelane Maritime Center using our STEM-based design plans! Free-play area for all ages, plus many...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E. 7th Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »

More information

This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
Website »

More information

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