Here's part of Maureen Dowd's interesting and moving column in tomorrow's New York Times on Joe Biden:
When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk.
“Of course, honey,” the vice president replied.
At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.
My kid’s dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I’m O.K.
“Dad, I know you don’t give a damn about money,” Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.
Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.
Hunter also pushed his father, telling him, “Dad, it’s who you are.”
Read the whole thing, as they say. And read the accompanying Times news article, reporting that Joe Biden is seriously considering a presidential bid.
But then stop for a minute. Ask this question: Who gave Maureen Dowd the details of the conversations between Joe Biden and his sons? The details are, after all, pretty ... detailed: There are direct quotations from Beau, Hunter, and Joe; a sentence capturing the thought process of Joe; a brief description of Beau's physical state. It's great reporting, and it's a story well-told; but we can ask, how did Maureen Dowd know this? Who was willing and able to give her this level of detail?
Surely not a political aide or associate. Surely not a normal family friend. Perhaps there's a very close family friend or two in whom Joe Biden (or Jill, or Hunter) would have confided these conversations—but surely such a friend wouldn't have spoken to Maureen Dowd without Joe Biden's okay.
So Joe Biden may have authorized a friend to speak to Maureen Dowd. Or Joe Biden may have spoken to her himself. Or perhaps Jill or Hunter Biden spoke with her. Who knows the details and circumstances? One can easily imagine, for example, one of the Bidens telling a sympathetic Dowd the story, off-the-record, of their beloved son and brother's last wishes—and then, a few weeks later perhaps, yielding to Dowd's request that she be able to report at least some of what she was told in print.
Let me be clear: I'm not criticizing either the Bidens or Dowd. I'm simply pointing out that when you think about who could be the source of Dowd's extraordinary account—you'd have to be crazy to think Joe Biden isn't awfully serious about running for president.