Scrolling through various social media feeds you may have noticed this little treat below – a picture of a very handsome young Joe Biden (you’re welcome).
Maybe you’ve also seen how quickly some have been to add their own captions to express just how attractive they think he was.
For me, the slew of memes using both young and present-day VP Joe have been some of the very few bright spots in saying goodbye to him and Obama as their second term draws to a close. It’s even more amusing when you consider how relatively unpopular Joe was back at the start of his first term as Vice President of the U.S.
Right now, Biden’s approval ratings fall at about 50.6%, and at his peak he had a solid 59%. But over the years, his ratings have been low, especially when compared both to Obama and to past VPs, whose approval ratings have typically fallen about 3% below the POTUS’.
Joe’s, on the other hand, trailed Obama’s by about 18% in 2009. Remember, this does not represent how he has actually performed as VP, but how effective people perceive him to be. In looking for the answer to why his ratings in 2009 were so low, though it’s natural to wonder if he was a notably bad person or politician until recently, it shouldn’t be too surprising that quite the opposite can be said of him.
Biden’s political and personal history should have guaranteed him some type of advantage in gaining public favor because, honestly, he’s been a pretty standup guy in both aspects of his life.
Born Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in 1942, the current VP grew up in Massachusetts and Delaware, and graduated from Syracuse University with a law degree in 1966. When he met his first wife, and future mother of 3 of his children, he himself said he fell, ‘ass over tin cup in love – at first sight’ with her.
Sadly, in December 1972, around the time Joe was about to be sworn into the US senate, a tractor trailer killed his wife (Neilia) and their 13-month-old daughter, and injured their two boys. Despite his deep grief, Joe fully embraced his roles as committed father and U.S. Senator. He was sworn in at his sons’ hospital bedsides, and decided to commute to, rather than live in, D.C. in order to spend as much time with them as possible.
From then till his vice presidency, he continued to dedicate himself to the Senate and to his family, which grew with the addition of his second wife and fourth child. Throughout his 36-year career in the Senate, Joe was highly involved in foreign relations and was a strong advocate for civil rights. With a specific focus on women’s rights and eradicating domestic violence, he played a key role in implementing the 1984 Violence Against Women Act. As VP, Joe narrowed this focus to speaking out against sexual assault of both men and women on college campuses.
His ability to do all this while recovering from his first loss in 1972, then the loss of one of his sons to brain cancer in 2009, has earned him much respect from Democrats and Republicans alike.
Among the masses, however, it turns out that his reputation as an, ‘over-eager gaffe generator’ has cost him big in approval ratings.
(You can see just how much trouble Joe’s mouth has gotten him into below)
It didn’t help when the snapshot of him whispering to a colleague’s wife (below) was misconstrued as him ‘nuzzling’ her – earning him the nickname ‘Creepy Veep’.
But with his current approval ratings looking higher at 52%, it seems people either no longer use his gaffes to detract from the quality of the meaningful work he has done, or that they even view his ‘unscripted’ style as a plus. Regardless, they’ve definitely grown to appreciate his candid, down-to-earth, and yes, sometimes goofy, demeanor.
Hopefully, even after Joe and Obama have left office, we get to continue seeing much of the serious and not-so-serious sides of them in headlines and on social media.