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What A Latter-day Saint Learned about Mr. Joe Biden Through Decades of Working on Capitol Hill

I remember times when we would be in a meeting … and Mr. Biden would get up and leave because he wanted to be at home every night to tuck in his children.

Let me be clear upfront that I am not a personal friend of President Biden’s and do not know him well.  Also, politically I am an independent with no ties to either the Republicans or the Democrats.  My acquaintance with Mr. Biden came as a result of 30+ years of employment at the United States General Accounting Office (since renamed the United States General Accountability Office).  I saw many administrations come and go and personally witnessed the policy pendulum swing back and forth with the normal ebb and flow of the political winds. 

My job required me to spend a considerable amount of time working with many congressional staff members on a wide variety of issues throughout my career.  I had the opportunity of observing hundreds of our national leaders as they dealt with both the minutia and the weighty matters of government. As a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe the Constitution is a divinely inspired document and I felt privileged to be part of the inner workings of our national government under that Constitution. In that capacity, I had opportunities to work with Mr. Biden’s staff on official business and would occasionally be in a meeting or a hearing where Mr. Biden was present and functioning in his official capacity.  

My impression of Mr. Biden has always been a positive one. One of the things I like best about him is that he is a man of faith. He has had some significant challenges in his life that would challenge anyone’s faith but he has remained steadfast in his Roman Catholic beliefs.  

As I am sure most people are aware, Mr. Biden lost his first wife Neilia and his Daughter Naomi (“Amy”) in a car accident in December of 1972 while they were out Christmas shopping.  (His two other sons were also in the car and were injured, but their injuries were not life-threatening.) Also, in 2015 his son Joseph Biden Jr. (Beau) died of brain cancer.  These experiences obviously had a huge impact on Mr. Biden.  After his wife’s car accident, he was planning to resign from the Senate to be able to be closer to his children, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield convinced him to stay.  He stayed, but only on the condition that he could commute 90 minutes each way by train back and forth to his home in Delaware every day to be able to be with his children. He did this for 36 years.

I always found him to be honest, of high integrity, and interested in the truth unvarnished.

I remember times when we would be in a meeting or even in a hearing and Mr. Biden would get up and leave because he wanted to be at home every night to tuck in his children.  It always impressed me that he would put his family ahead of everything else, including himself.  It also impressed me that in spite of these tragedies he continued in his faith in God.   

As I observed Mr. Biden interact with others he always behaved respectfully; with empathy, caring, and concern.  I also saw occasions when he would try to calm contention and be a peacemaker.  In addition, when we had to report facts that were not helpful to his political agenda, he welcomed them, thanked us, and was very gracious about the work that was done.  I always found him to be honest, of high integrity, and interested in the truth unvarnished.  He seemed to be genuinely more concerned about the people he represented than he was about himself.  As my job required me to interact with many politicians, I found Mr. Biden’s character quite refreshing.      

Knowing something of the forces that come to bear in national politics, I am all the more motivated to accept President Ballard’s plea in the recent October General Conference, “No matter how you pray or to whom you pray, please exercise your faith—whatever your faith may be—and pray for your country and for your national leaders.” Continuing he said, “This is not about politics or policy. This is about peace and the healing that can come to individual souls as well as to the soul of countries …” 

Regardless of our political leanings, I believe we should all pray that President Biden will be inspired and motivated to lead this country in the righteousness of traditional moral values.  

About the author

Richard L Brown

Richard Brown is a retired member of the Senior Executive Service. He served for over 40 years in the civil service primarily on Capitol Hill in the General Accounting Office (now known as the General Accountability Office).
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