Vice President Biden Speaks at a Reception for Late Senator Warren Rudman


Uploaded by whitehouse on 29.11.2012

Transcript:
(applause)
Vice President Biden: Thank you very much.
No, no, no, no, please.
Thank you.
(applause)
This is one thing Warren would not want you to do,
stand for me.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
(applause)
As I sat listening to all of those who served with Warren,
present company excluded, I thought what a common link.
You are all made of the same stuff.
You are all made of the same stuff.
I think that is maybe why you can talk so well about
Warren Rudman.
And I say to the family, it is an honor to be invited here to
speak today.
Everybody knows about how tough Warren was, and you know I think
he was as John said, John McCain, he was sort of sort
of New Hampshire.
He was forthright, he was frugal, and he was fair.
That's sort of how I always looked at Warren Rudman.
The one thing though that hasn't been mentioned, that maybe it is
just me, but I admired most about Warren is the value that
my, my parents valued the most.
And that was there was never a man or woman at least when I was
with him, that he ever looked at and spoke with who he didn't
treat with dignity.
So many people in powerful positions begin to think
that they, they know so much better than ordinary people.
You know, I think maybe the reason why and I don't know
this, because others knew Warren well, but some of
you knew him better.
I think maybe the reason why Warren had such in my view a
basic belief in inherent good, in capacity of ordinary people.
It was never about pedigree, it was never about degree.
He didn't look at people and yield to pedigree.
He didn't yield to that person in the room who
had the most advanced degree.
He was as bright as anyone in the room.
But the thing I admired most about him was that I believed,
that he believed given a half a chance, just ordinary, ordinary
plain Americans, ordinary plain Americans knew what
their own interest was.
Didn't need somebody with a higher IQ.
Didn't need someone with an advanced degree.
Didn't need someone from a position of privilege
to tell them what was in their own interest.
Maybe it appealed to me the most about him,
because it is the thing I dislike most about people
who are in high places sometimes.
They somehow think that they are better.
Not better, they care about those folks.
But they somehow think that they are not capable of making their
own judgments.
Because anyone that I knew, who I believed thought the wider the
franchise, the better off the nation would be,
was Warren Rudman.
A lot of the people that we know in this town and other great
centers of power, somehow think that only the truly informed,
that is, only truly educated can somehow know what direction this
country should take.
I often kind of thought the reason why Warren thought that
is maybe because he in combat like John and others, and Bob
Dole who I spoke to intended to be here today but couldn't be,
and Danny Inouye.
As I serve next to ordinary people, with 8th grade
educations and high school educations and watch them
perform with some valor in combat and make profoundly
important decisions that impacted not only upon their
wellbeing, but the wellbeing of the people with who they served.
And so for me, all of the things that have been said about
Warren, I could repeat and it would just reemphasize what you
already know about him.
As we used to say in the Senate, if you excuse a point of
personal privilege, of these I admired him so much, was the
reason I just stated.
I had the dubious distinction of being told by the Senate a story
that only 15 people in the history of the United States
Senate have served as long as I have in this body.
I never met a man in all of the time I have served with
the single exception of Danny Inouye, who had the kind of
integrity, grit, and faith, faith in ordinary Americans.
So I, a quote I like best from Warren was the one where he
said, just tell the truth and watch them scatter.
(laughter)
And that is what he always did.
He told the truth.
You know, he was, as is referenced, and we all have a
slightly different perspective, his honesty could be searing.
Absolutely searing.
But his compassion was always profound.
That is a hell of a rare combination for
any man or woman.
I think he believed like Robert Louis Stevenson said, that the
cruelest lies are often told in silence.
He was always honest with you.
He would come up to me and tell me when he thought I was just
flat wrong.
Not on issues, but the way I was comporting myself.
And let me conclude by saying that one of the tests, I think
the test in all of my years in the United States Senate over
36, and the only one that served more than that is Danny Inouye,
who is here today, is that for Warren Rudman, he -- Al said
the coin of the realm is your integrity and it is.
But there is, there is a coin that is even more
rare than that.
It is the man or woman you serve with that everyone knows when
they speak, they speak the absolute truth with no pretense.
You can take what they say to the bank.
Not just in the keep their word, but you can take to the bank
their judgment.
Their judgment.
Justice Souter, you will recall better than anyone else here,
George Mitchell and Danny were here, a lot of people were here
at the time, when I was Chairman of the Judicial
Committee in this very room.
We had some very, very contentious hearings.
And we had just gone through a very, very unpleasant battle
with Justice Bork.
And I went down to meet with the President about
who would come next.
And your name was put forward.
And everyone knew only a few things about you.
You had a prestigious mind, you had an incredible, impeccable
background, both academically and in terms of your character.
But no one knew much else about you at all.
And on my side of the aisle, there was an overwhelming
reluctance to accept, and I don't mean this as a criticism,
it is a political statement.
When at the time Governor Sununu said, I guarantee you, I forget
the exact quote.
I have it here.
I guarantee you he will be a conservative justice.
And that was like putting up at the time a red flag in terms of
my crowd, as old Fritz Hollings would say, crowd.
And Warren Rudman came to see me.
And he said, Joe, I guarantee you.
This man not only has integrity, but he comes with no agenda.
He has an open mind.
He will listen.
It is not merely he is a great lawyer, it is that he is a man
who will, in fact, will, in fact, listen.
That is why I asked you that question about being able to
listen and hear the voices of the rest of the country.
Warren Rudman said of you, David Souter is
a brilliant intellectual.
He can't be classified as an ideologue in any way,
shape, or form.
None of the Democrats are left here, but remember, I went into
our caucus and I said I am supporting Justice Souter.
And there was a hue and cry at the time in our caucus,
Danny if you remember.
And they asked me why.
And I said because Warren Rudman, Warren Rudman,
said he had an open mind.
He was not an ideologue.
That is the reason why David Souter, David Souter is a --
was one of the great Supreme Court Justices.
Because Warren Rudman said this man was not, not an ideologue.
I see Justice Broderick in the audience.
And two other, former Republican governor and Justice Broderick
and others came to see me as well to reinforce that point.
But I can't think of all of the years we have served here,
Danny, many men beyond you who could stand up and say, I assure
you, you don't know this man.
But I assure you, he is what I say.
He was an incredible guy.
He was all everybody else said.
But the part I guess we all look to are the parts we most admire.
The thing I most admire about him is the way he
treated everyone.
Everyone with dignity.
On behalf of Jill and I, I say to the family,
it is truly an honor.
As I told the grandchildren, if my dad were here, he had
an expression.
He would look at you and say, kid, you got good blood.
You got good blood.
(applause)