Posted: Aug. 22, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Delawareans can exhale now. Beau Biden is home.

Home from a perilous four days from Monday to Thursday in Houston, where he was placed by news outlets at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

There is still much that is publicly unknown, still much to worry about, but at least the immediate crisis is past.

The Office of the Vice President released an old-fashioned statement from Joe and Jill Biden, briefly saying their son had a "successful procedure" and was in "great shape," and Beau Biden followed it up with a tech-appropriate tweet of a photo.

It showed four smiling Bidens -- Joe and Jill and Beau and his wife Hallie. This was not a picture that was worth a thousand words, though.

It would be better to have an explanation in plain English of what could have caused Beau Biden to feel "weak and disoriented," as his condition was described by the Attorney General's Office, and sent him from hospital to hospital when he is only 44.

It would be better to learn more about this "successful procedure," a term nebulous enough to mean anything from a disinfected blister to a heart transplant, although no doubt breast enhancement surgery can safely be ruled out.

Throughout this ordeal, there has been a strained attempt to project normalcy.

It has taken the form of tweets from Beau Biden to statements from the Attorney General's Office about his continuing conferences with Justice Department officials.

The political show went on, too, with a fund-raiser Wednesday evening at the Lewes Yacht Club for his campaign for a third term as the Democratic attorney general. Valerie Biden Owens, his aunt who oversees the family political operation and drolly calls herself the "vice sister," stood in for him.

Pete Schwartzkopf, the Democratic speaker who was on the host committee, said the event was well-attended and Owens was well-received.

"Valerie came down and spoke and said he was coming home and doing well," Schwartzkopf said.

It is unclear what comes next for Beau Biden. There have been no updates about his schedule to say when he will return to work or whether he will attend the Sussex County Democratic Jamboree on Saturday, as he had planned previously.

The only public indication of what is ahead is a vague reference in the statement that came from Joe and Jill Biden, noting Beau Biden "will follow up with his local physicians in the coming weeks."

The efforts to pry away the mystery have been skimpy at best, like the NBC News report saying he had a biopsy for a brain mass while in Houston and multiple news accounts of an emergency response to a stroke-like event at the vice president's house in Greenville earlier this month, about three years after he had a stroke.

If Delawareans are no longer holding their collective breath, it has still left them crossing their collective fingers until they know more about what Beau Biden's future is and what it means for Delaware's future, too.

This is the motherless boy they comforted after the accident when he was three years old, the soldier they sent to war, the attorney general who took an oath to protect them, the native son who could run to be their governor.

If it is uncertain how much they have a right to know, they have a need to know, not because Beau Biden is a public official, not even because they deserve to know, but because they really care.