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Oppenheim: Biden's Visit

Keith Oppenheim
The Oppenheim's were in the audience at the Flynn Sunday to hear Joe Biden speak.

My wife and I went to Burlington’s Flynn Theater and watched as Joe Biden took the stage with author Jodi Picoult .

First thing to keep in mind is that this was primarily a book tour. Biden’s new memoir, Promise Me, Dad, deals with the death of his son Beau as well as Biden’s decision not to run for President in the aftermath.

Picoult was brought in to ask Biden questions about the book. At least, she tried.

But Biden didn’t really seem to be having a conversation with her. Mostly, he spoke directly to the audience. A couple times, he even left the set and stood before the crowd. He was engaging, smart, funny – and – long-winded.

Toward the end, Picoult asked with a smile what Biden plans to do with the rest of his life - opening the door to what everyone wanted to know – whether he’ll run in 2020.

But Biden merely emphasized his main theme - that he would keep his promise to his late son and continue to pursue things he believed in.

In the end, most of what Biden said was personal, not political, and I took it to indicate that he probably won’t throw his hat in the ring. But then my wife pointed out Biden could have used that last question to say he’s not running. but didn’t. And I should add, at the event, everyone received a free copy of the memoir – which made it seem less about selling books and more about selling Joe.

For sure, Joe Biden knows who he is and politically, that’s really something. He’s authentic. But he just can’t edit himself or hold back on the theory that sometimes, less is more. And maybe that’s not an overwhelming flaw for a man who, despite several tragedies in his life, always found a way to keep going.

But I ended up feeling those traits may now be getting in the way - and that some of us can sense what he may not be able to see for himself. And that is, for some quests in life, there comes a point when it’s time to stop.

Keith Oppenheim, Associate Professor in Broadcast Media Production at Champlain College, has been with the college since 2014. Prior to that, he coordinated the broadcasting program at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). Keith was a correspondent for CNN for 11 years and worked as a television news reporter in Providence, Scranton, Sacramento and Detroit. He produces documentaries, and his latest project, Noyana - Singing at the end of life, tells the story of a Vermont choir that sings to hospice patients.
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