Fintan O’Toole: Joe Biden is the US’s mourner-in-chief

Haunted by intimate and public grief, he is the most Gothic figure in US politics

Joe Biden pauses during a campaign speech. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Joe Biden pauses during a campaign speech. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Haunted by intimate and public grief, the US president-elect is the most Gothic figure in American politics

Mourning becomes Joe Biden. “I have found over the years,” he writes in his best-selling memoir Promise Me, Dad, “that, although it brought back my own vivid memories of sad times, my presence almost always brought some solace to people who have suffered sudden and unexpected loss . . . When I talk to people in mourning, they know I speak from experience.”

The most moving thing in that book is not even Biden’s restrained and heartbreaking account of the slow death of his beloved son Beau. It is the two brief appearances of Wei Tang Liu, whose son, Wenjian Liu, was one of two police officers murdered in New York City on the Saturday before Christmas 2014. Biden visited the family home in Brooklyn to pay his respects.

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