Joe Biden and Stephen Colbert Talk about Faith and Suffering

Comedian Stephen Colbert had an emotional and moving conversation with Vice President and potential 2016 candidate Joseph Biden on “The Late Show” Thursday night. The nation’s two most prominent Catholics talked at length about how Biden’s faith helped him respond to the death of his son Beau in May.

“My religion is just an enormous sense of solace,” Biden said. “I go to Mass, and I’m able to be just alone, even in a crowd. I say the rosary, and I find it to be incredibly comforting.”

After Beau’s death, Jill Biden, the Vice President’s wife, posted a quote on Biden’s bathroom mirror from the Christian theologian Soren Kierkegaard: “Faith sees best in the dark.”

While Biden agreed with the sentiment, he also admitted that his faith had moments of struggle after the tragedy. He said it was embarrassing to be lifted up as an example when most people face the same challenges with far less support.

“The faith doesn’t always stick with you,” Biden said. “Sometimes it leaves.”

But the Vice President said he felt an obligation to keep going: “You gotta get up. And I feel like I was letting down Beau, letting down my parents, letting down my family if I didn’t just get up. I marvel at the ability of people who absorb hurt and just get back up.” Biden also quoted his mother, who told him that “as long as you are alive, you have an obligation to strive, and you’re not dead until you see the face of God.”

The Vice President lauded Colbert, whose father and two of his brothers died in a 1974 plane crash, as an example of getting back up: “The people I’m most drawn to are people who’ve been hurt — and I’m not going to embarrass you, but you’re one of them, buddy.”

Colbert asked Biden the elephant question in the room: whether or not the Vice President would run for President in 2016. When Biden suggested that he still wasn’t sure he had the emotional energy to run, Colbert seemed to suggest Biden’s ability to relate to people that suffer made him a compelling candidate:

“It’s going to be emotional for a lot of people if you don’t run,” Colbert said. “I just want to say I think your experience and your example of suffering and service is something that would be sorely missed in the race. Not that there aren’t good people on both sides running. But I think we’d all be very happy if you did run. And if you don’t, I know that your service to the country is something we should all salute. So thank you so much.”

Colbert wasn’t the only one endorsing a Biden entry into the 2016 campaign. Throughout Biden’s day in New York City, people at his events could be heard shouting, “Run, Joe, Run!”

Biden’s decision to run is a deeply personal one that only he can make. But one thing has been already declared by the American people: Joe Biden is clearly a good man whose life connects him to the joys, hopes, sufferings and anxieties of the American people.

Sounds like a compelling candidate to me.