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In which John discusses the time he met Joe Biden in what upon reflection was not St. Louis.
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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

A while back I was asked to host a book event with Joe Biden, in general I dislike political memoirs but I was very moved by this particular book, which is about grief and what it actually means to serve the public.  I guess I should pause here and say this is a political video and I know some people in comments will be like, "When did Vlogbrothers get so political?" The answer is the we've been talking about politics since like mid January 2007 but I understand the concern.

And anyway to be honest I did not have a particularly strong opinion about Joe Biden, I just liked the book. It was like sad and human and openly conflicted in a way that political memoirs rarely are.


So right, I fly to I don't know, somewhere like Saint Louis to do the Q&A and I'm sitting backstage in some little room editing a Crashcourse script, when someone says "Would you like to meet Vice President Biden?" And I'm like "sure" At this point in my life I had become accustomed to people saying kind things to me that they didn't actually mean.

Because like even very modest amounts of fame can serve as a sort of filter that distorts the way people look at you.  Like once in the early 2000's I met the guy that played Gilligan on Gilligan's Island and for some reason I blurted out "I love Gilligan's Island!" even though I had never seen an episode of the programme.


Which became a real problem when he responded "Oh thank you! What's your favorite episode?" Anyway, I went in to see Joe Biden, and he said that he and his family really loved The Fault in Our Stars and that it was helpful to them as they were processing their son's cancer diagnosis, and I said thank you.

And then he asked me about Esther, and I started talking about her and I noticed that there were tears in his eyes. Even though we only spent a few minutes together I was very struck by the fact that he wanted to talk about Esther more than he wanted to talk about like, the success of the book, or the movie or whatever. So then some security-ish people came and said it was time to go onstage.


And as we were walking towards the stage Biden got asked for an autograph by one of the stage hands, whose name was I think, Tim, and they quickly got into a very intense conversation and then the security-ish people were like, we really gotta go on stage. And so Biden said to Tim, "Will you be here afterwards?" And Tim was like yea that's how stage handing works.  And the we went on stage and Biden and I did our hour long Q&A thing. And the moment it was over he went backstage, and said "Tim!" And continued their conversation, and in fact were still talking when I left for the hotel.


Joe Biden gave me the exact same level of attention that he gave Tim, and I have met a lot of famous and  powerful people in my life and that is very rare.  So look I think that Biden's plans for dealing with Covid-19 pandemic are far more convincing than Trump's. I think that Biden's climate change proposals are serious, while Trump's are literally non-existant, and so on. But this isn't an election only about policy positions.


I mean for the first time in over 120 years the Republican party released no new platform this election cycle, no document outlining their plan for tackling issues from taxation to Covid. The Trump administration has no comprehensive responses to these issues because their idea of governance is not about policy, it's about populism. Trump seeks to establish a clear us and a clear them, and then argues that only a vote for Trump can prevent 'them' from taking over and ruining America.

I reject that idea of governance, we are not going to us versus them our way out Covid or climate change, or anything else.  I think that Joe Biden would be a fundamentally different kind of president, a president who will listen carefully and with empathy. Who wont try to concentrate power, but will instead build teams of experts and a president who will lead with decency and humanity. 


Hank I'll see you on Friday