Why does Joe Biden talk so much?

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Viewers of the hearings on Judge Samuel Alito may have noticed—could not have helped noticing—that Sen. Joseph Biden talked a lot. Too much, as he cheerfully admits. As he usually does. Why? My own explanation is this: As a child, Biden stuttered. Painfully so, as he told me in an interview in 1987, when he was running for president. But as a teenager in Archmere Academy, the Catholic high school he attended, he had to give a speech, and he conquered his stutter. Not so many years later, at age 29, he was elected to the Senate (he reached the constitutionally required age of 30 a month after the election). So a young man who had conquered a stutter was elected to what has amounted to, so far, a lifetime office in which you are allowed to speak as long as you want. He's been overcompensating ever since.

Which is not to say that it's excruciating to watch him. Biden is, in my opinion at least, a genuinely nice man. He entered the Senate with an undistinguished academic record and after only a few years in private law practice and service on the New Castle County Council. He's learned a lot since then, and his performance as a senator has been far more impressive than his accomplishments before he was elected. I would second the comments of Paul Mirengoff of Power Line.

Biden is a special case. He is happy when he's talking, whether he's reading the phone book or unfairly attacking someone. On the other hand, some of his verbal excursions mitigate the sting of his attacks. I take this as a sign that he'd rather not smear good men like Alito, and takes no pleasure in doing so beyond the inherent pleasure of hearing the sound of his own voice.

Hearing the sound of his own voice—not stuttering. It's a pleasure he's earned.