Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Everyman on the Trail, With Perks at Home

He's gotta be careful not to appear too pompous, a difficult chore for the Senator from Delaware.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine,” Mr. Biden said when Senator Barack Obama introduced him as his running mate. “You sit there at night after you put the kids to bed and you talk, you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you are worried about being able to pay the bills.”

Mr. Biden certainly can trace his roots to the working-class neighborhoods of Scranton, Pa., and Claymont, Del., where he was raised. But these days, his kitchen table can be found in a 6,800-square-foot custom-built colonial-style house on four lakefront acres, a property worth close to $3 million.

Case in point. Gimme a break.

As a secure incumbent who has rarely faced serious competition during 35 years in the Senate, Mr. Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping and some of his Amtrak travel between Wilmington, Del., where he lives, and Washington. And the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home.

Oy vay. Clean he ain't, but, then again, that is how things are in government.

There is nothing to suggest Mr. Biden bent any rules in the sale, purchase and financing of his homes. Rather, he appears to have benefited at times from the simple fact of who he is: a United States senator, not just “Amtrak Joe,” the train-riding everyman that the Obama-Biden campaign has deployed to rally middle-class voters.

Amtrak Joe? Oy.

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