Biden to Ukrainians: 'Thank You for Making Me Feel Relevant Again'
Vice President Joe Biden introduced himself at a meeting with Ukrainian legislators in Kiev today as someone who has "someone who has held high public office in my country for now 40 years."
Biden became the junior senator from Delaware in 1973.
"For 36 years I sat in our legislature, and I used to actually have this seat in our -- I was the chairman of our committee. Thank you for making me feel relevant again, back in a legislative body," he told the Rada, adding that he'd signed the guest book at his hotel “Ukraine united, Joe Biden.”
"Just because I’ve been around, literally met every major leader in the world in the last 40 years, I don't -- I want you to know I do not underestimate the incredible pressure you all are under. I do not underestimate the challenge that you all face. And I do not underestimate the frustration you must feel when someone like me comes along and says this is a great opportunity for you. As my mother would say, but for the honor, I’d just as soon as pass the opportunity," he quipped.
"...I hope none of you have to appear in the first edition of the 'Profiles in Courage in Ukraine,' but my expectation is some of you are going to have to make some really difficult, difficult personal decisions," he added, referencing JFK's book.
Biden told the lawmakers that there's "an expression in English, it says, an expert is anyone from out of town with a briefcase."
"Well, I don't have a briefcase, and I’m not an expert. But I have an opinion, and I speak for the president of the United States, and he shares the same opinion. And that is that this is a second opportunity to make good on the original promise made by the Orange Revolution. This is a genuine opportunity to get right what is always difficult to do the first time when coming out from under the oppression or control of another power," he said.
"...I have an expression I use as I’ve gone around the world through my career is you never tell another man or woman what’s in their interest. They know their interest better than you know their interest. And so I want you to know that we are not suggesting we have the answers for you, but we’re merely suggesting that we stand ready to stand with you in every endeavor that you undertake to generate the united prosperous and coherent Ukraine you’re all fighting for."
The veep told the Ukrainians to "imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: Keep your gas."
"...And you may have different traditions. It’s not quite the same, but we understand different traditions in our country -- not as deeply as you do, but we are the most heterogeneous democracy in the world. We’re soon going to get the point where over 50 percent of the United States of America is made up of people of non-European stock; the majority of the American people are not of European origin in 2020. We understand. We have millions of Muslims. We have hundreds -- but it’s not quite the same. We’re not up against a border. We’re not sitting against a border of another powerful nation."