President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal for Freedom to Joe Biden, the man he described as “the best vice president we have ever seen,” at the dawn of their two political careers.
The deputy president climbed into shock when Obama announced that he was awarding the country’s highest civilian honor to his right-hand man for eight years. Mr. Biden turned away from the cameras, wiped a few tears, then stopped stoically as Mr. Obama draped the blue and white ribbon around his neck.
“I just hope that the asterisk of the story that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say that I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things For this country, “Biden said.
There were standing ovations several of them at what had been billed as a modest farewell ceremony for Biden, but evolved into a surprise donation of the Freedom Medal, the last time that Mr. Obama will present ‘honor.
“I had no idea,” Biden said of the award, insisting he did not deserve it.
This is the only time Mr. Obama has presented the medal “with distinction”, also awarded only once by each of the three previous presidents.
Obama, joined by his wife and daughters, was effusive in his praise for the man who ran against him in 2008 and then agreed to be his candidate for vice presidency. He said that Mr. Biden had made him a better president, calling him “a lion of American history.”
“Knowing Joe Biden is about knowing unpretentious love, serving without self-esteem and living life to the fullest,” Obama said.
Mr. Biden has long said that he accepted the position after Mr. Obama agreed to be the last person in the room before important decisions were made. More than two terms, they developed a bond that both men said transcended the office, with their wives, children and grandchildren of Mr. Biden become close friends.
Yet, as they gathered for a last farewell, none of this seemed on the mind of man.
Obama said there had been “no conflict between our staffs”, a departure from other recent administrations. And Mr. Biden recounted how after his son Beau died in 2015, leaving behind a wife and children, Mr. Obama was upset when Mr. Biden said he could sell his house to support them, and Offered to give them the money instead.
It was a meeting for the many collaborators and colleagues who have worked with Mr. Biden over the years. Former Senators Chris Dodd and Ted Kaufman, former Chief of Staff Bruce Reed, and even the White House doctor in Biden, joined Biden’s wife, sister and children .
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Mr. Obama has traced the history of Mr. Biden’s political career for nearly half a century, from the chairmanship of the judicial committees and the Senate’s external relations to the “cancer” Started recently and plans to continue. Obama congratulated his vice-president for his work on economic revival, middle-class issues and the fight against violence against women.
“I have not yet spoken of Amtrak, nor of aviators. “Literally,” said Mr. Obama, citing some of the most famous “Bidenisms”.
Mr. Biden’s career in Washington began in 1972 in a tragedy when his wife and daughter died in a car accident just before he took an oath as an American senator. After leaving the national scene next week, he plans to remain active in democratic politics and work on policy issues at a pair of institutes he develops at the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania .
“This also gives the Internet a last chance to talk about our bromance,” the president said.