Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — Joe Biden blew the vice-presidential debate with his disrespectful snickering, snorting, and bizarre laughter.
As Mitt Romney told me for my article, "Romney to Newsmax: Obama’s Story on Ambassador Death 'Troubling,'
” “I think there was one person on the stage who was respectful, who was serious, who was sober, and provided the kind of confidence that we should hope to find in someone who you’d turn to in a crisis, and that was Paul Ryan.”
But Biden’s arrogance during the debate also provides a window on his character. Before he became vice president, then Sen. Biden was known as a man who knew every conductor by name on his Amtrak trips between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Del.
Since becoming vice president, Biden has come down with a malady known by insiders as White House-itis. As described in my book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” it befalls presidents, vice presidents, and White House aides who are not well grounded to begin with and let the intoxicating power of the White House go to their head.
As noted in my story, "Biden Spends $1 Million Annually for Weekend Trips
," every Friday the vice president takes a helicopter designated as Marine Two from the vice president’s residence in northwest Washington to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. He then hops on Air Force Two to fly back to his home in Delaware. At the end of the weekend, he returns on Air Force Two, usually a Boeing C-32.
On Saturdays in warm weather, Biden regularly returns to Andrews on the airplane to play golf at the base with President Obama. After the game, he flies back to Delaware. On Sunday evening, he returns on the plane to Washington — all at taxpayer expense.
The Boeing C-32 is a specially configured Boeing 757-200 commercial jet. The cost of flying the plane is $22,000 an hour, so each half-hour trip to or from Delaware costs about $10,000. Each golf game costs taxpayers $20,000. At that rate, the annual cost to taxpayers of Biden’s weekend trips is well over $1 million. That does not include so-called deadhead flights when the plane often flies back to Washington empty and then returns empty to pick up Biden.
In addition, the Secret Service rents more than 20 condominiums in the Wilmington area for agents who must accompany Biden when he returns to his home state. Rather than try to find hotel space, the Secret Service decided to rent the condos in part because, even when he knows his schedule in advance, Biden rarely tells agents until the last minute when he will be returning to Wilmington beyond his weekend trips. As a result, agents cannot plan their own lives.
A Secret Service agent says that since Air Force Two parks at Andrews, Obama is obviously aware that Biden is running up a huge government tab for each game of golf they play.
Biden’s press office had no comment. Asked if President Obama thinks these costs are appropriate and why he has not questioned Biden’s flying to play golf with him at a cost of $20,000 per game, the president’s press office had no comment.
Biden’s commutes have cost taxpayers at least $4 million so far. After my story ran on Newsmax, a major media outlet obtained Pentagon records confirming the trips and costs. But so far, that outlet has not run the story. The rest of the media have ignored it.
In addition to his salary as vice president of $230,700, Biden has free use of the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory. The vice president’s residence is a handsome 9,150-square-foot, three-story mansion overlooking Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington.
Complete with pool, pool house, and indoor gym, the white brick house was built in 1893 as the home of the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Congress turned it into the official residence of the vice president in 1974 and gave it the address One Observatory Circle.
During the day, at least five Navy stewards attend to every personal need of the second family, including cleaning, cooking, shopping for food, and doing the laundry.
Biden has portrayed himself as a regular Joe, a product of a working-class family who takes on millionaires and Republicans who are said to be out of touch with middle-class Americans. In June 2011, Obama appointed Biden to root out wasteful government spending. But behind the scenes, it’s a different matter.
Biden’s disregard for the cost of constantly shuttling back and forth to his home in Wilmington and his additional trips to golf with the president betray the arrogant, contemptuous attitude we saw him display toward Ryan during the debate.
“The White House is a character crucible,” Bertram S. Brown, M.D., a psychiatrist who formerly headed the National Institute of Mental Health, told me for the Secret Service book. “It either creates or distorts character. Few decent people want to subject themselves to the kind of grueling abuse candidates take when they run in the first place,” says Dr. Brown.
“Even if an individual is balanced, once someone becomes president, how does one solve the conundrum of staying real and somewhat humble when one is surrounded by the most powerful office in the land, and from becoming overwhelmed by an, at times, pathological environment that treats you every day as an emperor?”
The vice president has chosen the emperor approach, revealing his true character.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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