Posted: June 5, 2009


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Valerie Biden Owens, the kid sister, gave a little talk the other day in Wilmington, and something became very clear.

For all the knocks her brother-the-vice-president gets for running his mouth about Chief Justice John Roberts and swine flu and so on, by the Biden family speaking standards Joe sounds like the one on a restraining order with a cop standing nearby.

Valerie is like a stand-up act on a little too much coffee. OK, way too much coffee.

It was rat-a-tat-a-tat for 15 minutes or so Monday evening in front of about 75 people, mostly women, attending a fund-raising reception for the Women's Democratic Club of Delaware PAC. Valerie let fly from the steps inside the home of John Rago, a senior aide to Mayor Jim Baker.

"I do want to start out with a point of personal privilege -- I picked that up from my brother -- and the personal privilege is, I want to thank you for making me vice sister. It's got a nice, edgy ring to it," Valerie quipped.

"Joe's thrilled. He hates being asked, how's it going, how are you doing? For Christ sakes, we're kids from Mayfield! What do you mean, how are we doing? He's vice president!" she cracked.

"What do I like best about being vice sister? I like that name. And the second thing is totally vacuous -- I love that motorcade!"

Even when Valerie tried to be serious, there were limits. She was describing the way Joe participated in President Obama's decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and highlighted the day-to-day role of Cynthia Hogan, counsel to the vice president.

"Our counsel," she began and stopped herself. "Our? Our? Joe's and mine. Our counsel. Hell, I worked hard enough to get him there!"

Is there any Valium in the house?

There was a lot of politics in the house. Democrats known or suspected of having designs on moving up were out in force, the better to be seen with a Biden.

Among the hob-nobbers was Charlie Oberly, the ex-attorney general who is one of the people in search of a presidential appointment as the U.S. attorney for Delaware. Also John Carney, the past lieutenant governor running for the Congress. Ditto for Carl Danberg, the corrections commissioner who could be the understudy candidate for attorney general if Beau Biden goes elsewhere -- like the race for the Senate.

Nor was Beau overlooked. Ever the political consultant, which is his aunt's day job, Valerie told the crowd Beau sent his love from Iraq. He is due back with his National Guard unit in September.

Other political figures were there, too, including the mayor and Chris Coons, the New Castle County executive. Sen. Tom Carper arrived after Valerie spoke and people were leaving. Even in this life, he is always the late Tom Carper.

The evening had something of a magical mystery tour to it, because Joe did not go into the vice presidency alone. It seems as though all the Delaware Democrats think he took them with him.

Secretary of state they could have taken in stride. But this! They get a faraway look in their eyes as they marvel about it.

"It's overwhelming. It's a sense of pride to know him for 25 years. He's the vice president of the United States. It makes you happy," Oberly said.

"To have Delaware at the Naval Observatory is really very special. Who ever would have thought?" said Rebecca Young, the vice chair of the New Castle County Democrats.

Valerie made the point, too.

"We don't forget. I promise you, as he would say, on my Biden word of honor, home is where you start from and this is home," she said.

That no-place-like-home line sounded more like Dorothy-from-Kansas than Valerie-from-Delaware, but maybe not. To have the vice sister in the house put the crowd somewhere over the rainbow.