The answer is no. Joe Biden may be too old to be an effective president. He’s certainly too much of a hack to be one. But he’s not too kind for the office.
The suggestion to the contrary comes from Kathleen Parker, a columnist for the Washington Post (the question forms the title of her column in the paper edition). Parker cites Biden’s courteous behavior towards Sarah Palin in the 2008 vice presidential debate.
But what about Biden’s conduct during the 2012 debate with Paul Ryan? Did Kathleen Parker miss that event?
As many readers will recall, Biden constantly interrupted Ryan and sometimes laughed out loud at him.
Vice presidents and vice presidential nominees frequently play the hatchet man and are often selected in part because of their capacity to do so. But Biden went several degrees further than any previous nominee ever had in a vice presidential debate, and that includes Bob Dole and Dick Chaney. (In his 2016 debate with Mike Pence, Tim Kaine emulated Biden. Kaine seemingly hurt the ticket by doing so, whereas Biden apparently did not. The difference? America wanted to reelect President Obama; Hillary Clinton, not so much.)
You can find people in Washington, D.C. who will attest to Biden’s kindness. But you can also find people who have been chewed out by him for no offense other than publicly opposing his agenda. Like most politicians (and, indeed, many people), Biden is nice or nasty depending on which approach serves his purpose, or simply fits his mood, in the moment.
That quality is not to be despised in a U.S. president. Unfortunately, Biden comes up short in the more important qualities of intelligence and sound judgment.