Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Biden In Ukraine: "Thank You For Making Me Feel Relevant Again"

    Vice President Biden addressed Ukrainian legislators Tuesday in a committee room of the Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, where he began his remarks by thanking the legislators for "making me feel relevant again." Biden is in Ukraine to show support for the Ukrainian government as that country faces continued pressure and threats from Russia.  Biden's "relevant" comments were a reference to his time as a legislator in the United States:
I want to thank my colleagues for bringing me back home. For 36 years I sat in our legislature, and I used to actually have this seat in our -- I was the chairman of our committee. Thank you for making me feel relevant again, back in a legislative body.
He went on to encourage the Ukrainians to continue to strive for energy independence with the goal of being able to tell Russia to "keep your gas":
And as you attempt to pursue energy security, there’s no reason why you cannot be energy secure. I mean there isn’t. It will take time. It takes some difficult decisions, but it’s collectively within your power and the power of Europe and the United States. And we stand ready to assist you in reaching that. Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas. It would be a very different world you’d be facing today. It’s within our power to alter that.
Biden is well known for his colorful comments throughout his career in public service, and his remarks to the Ukrainians are no exception.  Some additional excerpts:
I signed the book in the hotel as I was leaving today. The management asked me to sign their book, and I signed, “Ukraine united, Joe Biden.” 
I’ve been around, literally met every major leader in the world in the last 40 years... 
[A]n expert is anyone from out of town with a briefcase. Well, I don't have a briefcase, and I’m not an expert. 
I have an expression I use as I’ve gone around the world through my career is you never tell another man or woman what’s in their interest. 
Also to be very blunt about it, and this is a delicate thing to say to a group of leaders in their house of parliament, but you have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now. It’s not just the United States. You need a court system that not only you and your people, but the rest of the world assumes can actually adjudicate fairly disputes among people. But you have a chance. You have a chance. 
And you may have different traditions. It’s not quite the same, but we understand different traditions in our country -- not as deeply as you do, but we are the most heterogeneous democracy in the world. We’re soon going to get the point where over 50 percent of the United States of America is made up of people of non-European stock; the majority of the American people are not of European origin in 2020. We understand. We have millions of Muslims. We have hundreds -- but it’s not quite the same. We’re not up against a border. We’re not sitting against a border of another powerful nation.
    The Vice President's complete comments are available here.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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