“Dad, I’m not afraid. Promise me you’ll be alright.”
Such were Beau Biden’s last words to his vice-presidential father before he died on May 30 of last year. Vice-President Joe Biden shared his son’s final words during a commencement speech before University of Notre Dame on Saturday.
Reflecting on the death of his first wife and baby daughter in 1972 – aged 31 and 1, respectively – Biden counseled the newly minted graduates to stay grounded during life’s inevitable hardships. On the importance of values as a and anchor during adversity, Biden advised new graduates to view their consciences as a means towards personal peace.
Earlier in the speech, Biden ostensibly laid out his own code of conduct over the course of his political career.
“My father used to say that the greatest sin of all was the abuse of power, whether economic, political, psychological or physical,” said Biden, warning the newly minted graduates against the compromise of personal integrity in pursuit of ambition.
After John Boehner introduced him as the event’s featured speaker, Biden warned against assuming bad faith on the side of one’s political detractors. The assumption of good faith and extension of benefit of the doubt, said Biden, facilitated effective compromise based on common ground.
“A good life at its core – this is why I truly like [Boehner], is about being personal. It all gets down to being personal,” said Biden. “I was taught by my family and my faith to look past the caricature of a person, and to resist the temptation when you disagree to ascribe a negative motive.”
See the full speech below.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.