I met a lot of guys who came across the way Joe Biden does when I was on Wall Street. I was in the bond business, and the guys like him were mostly salesmen. They were all slick, well dressed, nicely groomed, and never seemed at a loss for words. They wore nice aftershave lotion and expensive shoes.
Some of the older guys sometimes had had a little work done, possibly a facelift. Their teeth had been whitened. And a few had hair plugs. Sorta like Joe.
Most of these guys seemed to have many friendships, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, though the line between friendships and business relationships was blurry, at best. You got the sense that a fair number of these guys didn't really have any close friends though. Sorta like you do with Joe.
Most had at least semi-respectable educational backgrounds. If they didn't, it seemed to be a point of pride. ("Hey, unlike the rest of these Ivy League hotshots, I came up the hard way, through CCNY.") I'm self-made, seemed to be the message.
Still, I got the impression that some of them lied about their educational pedigrees. Sorta like Joe.
Biden once told a reporter that his IQ was much higher than the reporter's, and that he had graduated from college with three degrees and from law school in the top half of his class. Only problem is, neither of those claims is true. Biden graduated from college with one degree, and graduated 76th in his class of 85 from law school. (Here is a video of Biden making those claims; note the unwavering certainty of his declaration.)
These salesmen always seemed happy to see you, had firm handshakes, and a ready smile. None of these guys were dumb; but none of them really seemed all that smart, either. They left you wondering if they were actually interested in anything they studied in college. But it also didn't seem as if any of them really cared about how smart they were; what they cared about was winning. Sorta like Joe.
None really had original thoughts, but all were glib. Many had canned lines that they could trot out for any occasion. These were often lines they had heard from someone else. But they had absolutely no compunctions about taking credit for them without giving attribution -- sorta like Joe.
Back in 1988, Biden gave a rousing speech about his grandfather, the coal miner from West Virginia. Only problem was, it turned out that the entire speech was plagiarized from British labor Leader Neil Kinnock's speech about his grandfather. Biden's grandfather never worked in the coal mines.
All of these salesmen seemed to have supreme confidence. In fact they projected such confidence that sometimes you felt yourself swept up by their certainty about whatever it was they were discussing. They would usually say the "right" thing for the moment, even if it wasn't technically accurate. But even if they didn't have all of their facts straight, it almost didn't matter, since they talked with such animation and forcefulness.
Sorta like Joe. During the Vice Presidential debate this past fall, at one point Biden said with great passion, in reference to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, "I was there. I knew we couldn't pay for them -- I voted against them." Only thing is, Senator Biden actually voted for both wars.
None of these Wall Street salesmen lived in a fishbowl, so their lies -- or mistakes, if you prefer -- usually got glossed over. Biden is in a fishbowl, so we can see his dishonesty, even if most of the media prefers not to report it.