The day before the historic Obama inauguration, Joe and Jill Biden appeared as surprise guests on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In a moment of pure candor, Jill Biden confided to Oprah that her husband, the soon-to-be vice president, had been originally offered two positions – Secretary of State and Vice President. Joe Biden could be heard shushing his wife. A quick switch to the camera on Joe Biden showed him laughing, blushing, a huge smile wrapping around his head. Oprah was laughing as well. The crowd roared.
For those not in on the joke, Senator Hillary Clinton, the presumptive vice president (and months before, the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee/next president), was offered the position of Secretary of State. According to Jill Biden’s spilled nugget, this would mean that the Senator from New York was not the first choice for vice president or secretary of state.
Joe Biden said, “That’s right.” The smile just wouldn’t stop. Even the most clueless observer could tell that this was something that the Vice President Elect did not want to discuss. “Go ahead,” he said.
Jill Biden continued. She said they discussed it. “If you’re secretary of state, you’ll be away, we’ll never see you, you know. I’ll see you at a state dinner once in a while.”
Joe Biden spokesperson Elizabeth Alexander issued a statement denying Jill Biden’s claims. “To be clear, President-elect Obama offered Vice President-elect Biden one job only – to be his running mate. And the vice president-elect was thrilled to accept the offer.”
Jill Biden, herself an accomplished professional, does not seem to be the kind of person who would simply make things up or exaggerate to burnish her husband’s ego. But is that truly the case? And why would Jill Biden construct such an elaborate scenario? Did she need to seem more important in the eye of Oprah Winfrey? Is there some type of animosity that exists between her and Hillary Clinton? Could she be misremembering?
Doubtful. Biden’s office seems to have overreacted to Jill Biden’s statement, going into damage control in an act of unnecessary overreaction, attempting to assuage an affront that might or might not have occurred. Although slightly embarrassing for the Vice President Elect and perhaps something that he may have not wanted to be public knowledge, Jill Biden’s disclosure was not such an horrific gaffe that she needed to be dubbed a liar.
For if Senator Hillary Clinton’s ego is such that finding out that Joe Biden was given a choice of the positions available in Barack Obama’s presidency, and that one of those positions was the one she was ultimately offered (one for which Senator Biden was by far the more qualified to fill), might somehow hurt her feelings, then Senator Clinton is nowhere near the political – and practical — professional that most believe her to be.
So Jill Biden dished that her husband could have been Secretary of State on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Since when has it been such a terrible thing that a qualified individual be offered several positions? And since when has it become such a terrible thing that a wife be proud of her husband?
“The Oprah Winfrey Show”