The résumés of Biden, O’Donnell, Kirk — what’s the difference?

Driving alone the other night, scrolling through the AM dial for a talker who would keep me awake, I happened upon Mark Levin and his rant against the double standard in Delaware: Joe Biden, first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, easily and repeatedly reelected until he moved up to vice president; Christine O’Donnell, Republican nominee, widely disparaged as dishonest about money and a liar.

All true, but if Christine O’Donnell is the queen of the deadbeats (unemployed-by-choice, I think, busy rehearsing for her own show on Fox News or at least a contract as a political analyst), and the souped-up résumé (lied about taking graduate classes at Princeton and about when she received her undergraduate degree from Farleigh Dickinson University), Joe Biden has long been the king of résumé enhancement and of plagiarism to boot.

Shortly after Obama selected Biden as his running mate, I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon tracking Biden’s exaggerations. There were so many that it really did consume the afternoon.

During his first year of law school, in 1965, he wrote a paper in which he lifted five pages verbatim from the Fordham Law Review.

Biden was forced out of the 1988 race for the Democratic nomination when Maureen Dowd reported on the front page of The New York Times that Biden, debating at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, lifted his closing remarks from a speech delivered by British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.

Biden was found the same year to have lifted words from speeches by Bobby Kennedy.

Also in1987, Biden erupted in anger at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, responding to a man who asked him where he went to law school and how he performed there: “I think I have a much higher IQ than you do. ... I went to law school [Syracuse University College of Law] on a full academic scholarship.” He added that he “ended up in the top half” of his class. “I won the international moot-court competition.” (He did not have a full academic scholarship and he graduated at the bottom of his class — 76th out of 85.)

Also that year, Biden lied about his college (University of Delaware) record, claiming he had been named the “outstanding student in the political-science department ... I graduated with three degrees from college.” (He was not named the outstanding student, and he graduated, 506th in a class of 688, with one degree, not three.)

In the tight race in Illinois for the U.S. Senate seat held by Obama, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) should have waltzed to victory over Democratic Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the latter burdened by the failure of his family’s bank, loans to mobsters and to the imprisoned political fixer Tony Rezko.

Kirk, a popular five-term congressman, finds himself in a horserace because he was found to have embellished his already sterling academic, military and employment records.

President Obama and his men were initially wary of getting close to the tainted Giannoulias, but seeing the chance of holding on to Obama’s seat — an enormous practical and symbolic victory — they are doing what they can to help.

Giannoulias’s hope is that voters will believe that a man — Mark Kirk — who lies about his résumé cannot be trusted on any level.

Among Giannoulias’s most enthusiastic backers is Joe Biden. Biden often puts his foot in his mouth, so he’ll have to be careful when boosting Giannoulias.

Memo to Joe Biden: Do not mention Kirk’s hyped-up résumé. Someone might have the temerity to mention your own.

(Full disclosure: My husband has contributed to Giannoulias.)

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