Everyone under the age of 33 was no more alive when the now-elected President Joe Biden first ran for the highest office in the 1988 elections, which were finally won by George H.W. Bush.
Biden did not even make it to 1988 and withdrew in 1987 because of plagiarism accusations by the then British opposition leader Neil Kinnock. But now Kinnock could not be happier for the new elected president and is even ready to resume his role as Biden’s “greatest speechwriter ever”.
The original controversy arose after Kinnock, now Lord Kinnock and a serving member of the British House of Lords, delivered a speech at the Welsh Labour Party Conference in May 1987 in which he asked why he was “the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to attend a university”.
This speech later appeared in a Labour Party election broadcast, and Biden, then a Democratic hopeful for the Democratic presidential nomination, was “particularly taken with it,” wrote Maureen Dowd of the New York Times at the time.
While Biden regularly used passages and always made sure to mention Kinnock when plays were recorded, in a debate at the Iowa State Fair he referred to it in his closing statement without mentioning Kinnock.
Michael Dukakis, the later Democratic candidate, jumped at it, and eventually a “plagiarism dossier” was created. It even went so far that Biden had to admit the plagiarism in school, but that it was “not malicious”.
In September 1987 Biden dropped out of the race. Even then, analysts were quick to point out how different the 1988 election could have been for Biden and the entire U.S. election cycle if he had thought of quoting Kinnock.
But Kinnock himself has always said it was an innocent mistake, and now, he says Washington Newsday, he is glad Biden has finally reached the presidency, believes he will make a good president, and would be more than happy to write more of his speeches for him.
“I’m sure Joe will be the coolest person in the room, because that’s the way he’s always been,” Kinnock told Washington Newsday by e-mail.
“This gift of calmness may be built in, or perhaps it’s a result of the personal anguish he’s had to endure and overcome. Either way, it is reassuring for the US and the world that he has experienced a tension/hysteria bypass.
“This is just one of the great contrasts to Trump, whose absurd ‘I won’ once again proved how infantile he is, and was – at least for me – such a whine that it told me he knew he would be in trouble if the entries were counted. At that point I started to lose the blues. When Joe gave his calm, statesmanlike ‘Be patient’ speech, I thought again that he had what it takes”.
Lord Kinnock last met Biden in 2007 at the Democratic Senate Office, where Biden introduced him to his team as his “greatest speechwriter ever”. Biden and Kinnock talked about this new “up-and-coming” senator by the name of Barack Obama. The new President-elect invited Kinnock to the 2009 inauguration.
And now Lord Kinnock would still be more than willing to help write more speech scripts, even though he suggested ideas that might be difficult to implement to get through Congress immediately:
“I would be more than willing to write a script about health care, tax refunds for (alleged) billionaires under threat of imprisonment (‘lock him up’), and various constitutional reforms regarding the Supreme Court, gun ownership and the electoral college,” Kinnock wrote.
“Joe would be welcome to use them with or without attribution. If you cannot dream, you cannot think”.