Joe Biden’s Raw, Emotional Interview With Stephen Colbert Is Riveting Television

The vice president, stripped bare by grief, speaks about Beau, faith, and the 2016 race.

"I would feel like I'd let Beau down if I didn't just get up."CBS/YouTube

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At one point, Stephen Colbert’s third-night audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan broke into a chant: “Joe, Joe, Joe!”

“Be careful what you wish for!” Vice President Joe Biden joked, his famous smile flashing to applause. It’s little wonder the audience was responding in this way. Biden was giving perhaps the most frank, intimate, and emotional interview a politician has given in recent memory—a major score for Colbert’s new show, and a rare chance for Americans to see their second-in-command speak so eloquently about grief, faith, and family.

The newsiest part of The Late Show interview on CBS was, of course, Biden telling Colbert that he didn’t feel like he was emotionally ready to run for president in 2016 after the recent death from brain cancer of his son Beau. (Biden has reportedly been exploring a run for the White House with donors and supporters in recent weeks.)

“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president, and two, they can look at folks out there and say, ‘I promise you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion,'” Biden said. “And, and, I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there. I’m being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”

But there was so much more to this interview, littered as it was with wise quotes from Biden’s mother and characterized by a mutual warmth between two men that have suffered great tragedies in their lives. (Colbert lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash.) But the most emotional and revealing parts were when Biden spoke about his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May: “I was a hell of a success. My son was better than me. He was better than me in every way.”

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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