Joe Biden is a mysterious figure in many ways. Despite being one of the most famous faces in the world and running for president, the average person knows very little about who Biden really is.
So, who is Joe Biden? He is a man shaped by an unexpected number of tragedies that span his entire life. While these tragedies are heartbreaking, they helped Biden emerge stronger than ever as someone who overcame great diversity time and time again.
Joe Biden’s father faced financial ruin
It’s an open secret that many lifetime politicians start with a silver spoon in their mouths. As for Joe Biden, he got to experience that spoon being yanked away at an early age.
Earlier in life, Joe Biden’s father, Joseph Robinette Biden Sr., was very successful and very wealthy. As The New York Times puts it, Joe Sr. “had it all in his 20s, sailing yachts off the New England coast, riding to the hounds, driving fast cars, flying airplanes.”
However, a series of bad business breaks meant Joe Sr. had to move his family into his wife’s parents’ house just to gain control over their spiraling finances.
As for young Joe Biden, he learned an important lesson from all of this, and he learned it from his father. “My dad always said, ‘Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.’”
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Joe Biden had a childhood stutter
As the 2020 campaign trail got more vicious, Joe Biden’s opponents pounced upon times that he had difficulty speaking. Many of these opponents claimed that this was proof of some sort of mental deficiency that should keep him from becoming president.
In reality, this stems from an old bit of childhood adversity. Biden began stuttering at a young age, and this sometimes interfered with his childhood temper. He wasn’t afraid to swing a punch at someone who mocked him!
Of course, he couldn’t go into public life with a nasty stutter and a right hook. So, he began to take control of the issue in an unexpected way.
As he wrote for an essay in People, “I never had professional therapy, but a couple of nuns taught me to put a cadence to my speaking, and that’s why I spent so much time reading poetry — Emerson and Yeats.”
Long story short? If you see Biden struggling to speak, he is usually working out the right cadence to power through a stutter.
Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter died in a car accident
Joe Biden would suffer many family tragedies over time, and the first dates back to 1972. That is when both his 30-year-old wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi died in a car accident.
This incident greatly affected Biden, and it even had an impact on his faith. In his memoir, he wrote, “I didn’t want to hear anything about a merciful God. No words, no prayer, no sermon gave me ease. I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry.”
What ultimately saw him through was the desire to do right by his surviving family. And he decided to focus on making them happy even as he renewed his focus on politics.
Joe Biden’s son Beau lost his battle with cancer
The next major family tragedy for Joe Biden occurred much later, in 2015. This is when his oldest son Beau Biden died from cancer at the age of 46. And this left a deep mark upon both Joe Biden and his second wife, Jill Biden, who tried to save Beau’s life until the very end.
Ultimately, Biden was able to move on with his life. And this is due in part to some final words of wisdom from his son. As Joe told Stephen Colbert, his son had a special message shortly before he passed away. “I know how much you love me. You got to promise me something. Promise me you’re going to be all right.”
In many ways, this is the theme of Biden’s life. The only way out is through.
Joe Biden’s near-death experience
On the campaign trail, many people made a big deal about the recent health scares of Biden’s Democratic Primary opponent Bernie Sanders. However, many don’t realize that Joe Biden himself nearly died back in the 1980s.
For a while, Biden had experienced headaches and neck pain. Eventually, this led to surges of intense pain in his head after he gave a speech to the University of Rochester.
He went to the hospital, and they discovered multiple aneurysms near his brain, with one being so dangerous that it required surgery. In a 2013 speech to the National Conference on Mental Health, he described asking what his chances were before surgery. To this, a glib doctor replied, “For mortality or morbidity?”
Luckily, everything worked out just fine. But Joe Biden was actually knocking on Heaven’s Door decades before becoming a famous national figure as vice president.
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Joe Biden’s youngest daughter was caught in a scandal
Joe Biden has had to endure the premature death of multiple children. His surviving children are in fine health, but they have managed to threaten his political ambitions on multiple occasions.
Back in 2009, for instance, his youngest daughter Ashley was at the center of an extortion scandal. According to the New York Post, an anonymous man tried to sell a video that allegedly showed Ashley snorting cocaine. To make matters worse, the video allegedly showed her complaining that there weren’t enough drugs and even talking about her dad!
Biden himself never acknowledged the incident, and the whole thing went away. But the timing of that (when Biden had just become vice president) couldn’t have been worse.
Joe Biden’s son Hunter was caught in a scandal of his own
As wild as the alleged tape is, Ashley Biden was only a political headache on one occasion. Hunter Biden, though, has become a real albatross hanging around Joe’s political ambitions.
Showing that certain habits might run in the family, Hunter was ejected from the Navy Reserve because he tested positive for cocaine. Later, Hunter got involved with a Ukrainian energy company, and this became a national issue when the press discovered that Donald Trump tried to withhold military aid to Ukraine to get them to investigate Hunter.
With the spotlight on Hunter, we also discovered that he’s been in and out of rehab, dealt with a paternity scandal, and even dated his dead brother’s widow. And while he may not deserve all this public scrutiny, these scandals may just sink Biden’s political ambitions once and for all.