SEPTEMBER 2008 GALACTIC
by Alex Miller-Mignone
At 3:00 A.M. on Saturday, 23 August 2008, the Obama campaign rolled out its vice presidential candidate with a text message to supporters: Joe Biden was the pick. The oddly timed announcement may have been making the best of a bad situation—after months of avid speculation, the exceptional discipline and secrecy of the campaign had been breached by the media late the night before, and rather than wait for an anti-climactic release early Saturday as planned, the Obamists poked a stick in the eye of the Clintonistas, releasing Biden’s name at precisely the infamous “3 AM Phone Call” moment from an anti-Obama primary ad. In choosing Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a 35 year veteran of the Congress, Obama hoped to lay to rest the issue of his foreign policy inexperience which had made that ad a winner for Hillary Clinton last March.
Biden is also expected to help with the white working class voters whom Clinton wooed, wowed and won in the primaries, but who have yet to fully embrace Obama. Born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a burnt-out coal town that has become ground zero in the Democratic battle for the lunch bucket crowd (Hillary Clinton spent her summers as a girl there, at her grandfather’s cabin), Biden is the eldest of four children of Joseph Biden, Sr. and Catherine Finnegan. His father was a car salesman. The Irish Catholic family relocated to Delaware when Biden was 10. A graduate of the University of Delaware in Newark, Biden went on to study law at Syracuse University College of Law, obtaining his JD in 1968.
Two years earlier, he had married Neilia Hunter; she and their daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident shortly after Biden’s election to the Senate in 1972. Both their sons, Beau and Hunter, were also injured in the accident, and Biden was sworn in as a US Senator at their hospital room bedside. Biden never moved to Washington, returning nightly on the Amtrak train to his family in Wilmington; with an estimated annual income of $150,000, he is quite possibly the poorest public servant in the capital. In 1977 he remarried, to Jill Tracy Jacobs. The couple have a daughter, Ashley.
Nothing in Biden’s background or education would appear to have prepared him for his meteoric rise to national politics at age 29. Fresh out of law school in 1969, Biden was elected to the County Council of New Castle County, Delaware, where he served from 1970-1972, when a trick of internal Republican politics sent him to the US Senate. The incumbent GOP Senator, J. Caleb Boggs, was set to retire, but fears of a devastating primary contest among his would-be successors caused party elders, including then president Richard Nixon, to persuade him to run for re-election at age 63. In what was expected to be a runaway win for the popular incumbent, relative lightweight Biden easily snagged what was thought to be the losing Democratic nomination, but Delaware voters had other ideas. Biden squeaked out a victory of 50%-49%, and has been in the Senate ever since. Currently finishing his sixth term, Biden is also running for re-election as Delaware’s senior senator, and will return to the Senate floor for his seventh term in January 2009 if the Democratic ticket is defeated in November.
Although currently Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden’s longest Senate post has been with the Judiciary Committee, where he served as ranking minority member from 1981-87, as Chair from 1987-1995, and again as ranking minority member from 1995-97. As Chair, he presided over Supreme Court confirmation hearings, including those of Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991, both among the most controversial in modern history. He authored the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, intended to curb domestic violence and gender-based crimes, and in that same year sponsored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as the Biden Crime Law. Additionally, as Chair of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Biden helped to create the cabinet-level position of Drug Czar, and continues to work toward outlawing designer drugs such as ecstasy, rohypnol (the “date rape” drug) and ketamine.
In 1997 he moved from the Judiciary Committee to Foreign Relations where he became ranking minority member and has served as Chair from 2001-2003, and again since Democrats regained control of the Senate in 2006. He was influential in determining US policy in Bosnia in the late ‘90s, supported the invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001, and ultimately voted for the 2002 AUMF in Iraq, but with reservations. In 2003 he proposed dividing Iraq into a loose federation of three ethnically-based states of Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds.
In 1987 Biden announced his candidacy for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. Although dwarfed by today’s standards, his $1.7 million first quarter fundraising total for 1987 outpaced even the frontrunners, Gary Hart, Richard Gephardt and Michael Dukakis, the eventual nominee. The Bork confirmation hearings had given Biden a broad national exposure, but his candidacy was derailed in September of 1987 by a plagiarism scandal, wherein Biden quoted a portion of a speech by British Labor leader Neil Kinnock without giving attribution. Although Biden had given the source in earlier stump speeches, the one time he failed to do so was the one caught on video. When shortly afterward it was revealed that as a first-year law student, he had plagiarized part of a law review article in a class paper, a pattern seemed to have formed, and Biden’s reputation suffered. Matters came to a head when he was caught inflating his academic history in New Hampshire (Biden claimed to have graduated in the top half of his class, on a full scholarship, with three degrees; in reality, he was 76th in a class of 85, had a half scholarship based on financial need, and had earned just one undergraduate degree, though he did have a double major, in history and political science). He withdrew from the race on September 23, 1987, citing the “exaggerated shadow” of his mis-speaking.
On January 31, 2007, Biden announced his candidacy for the presidency in 2008, 20 years after his first attempt, and almost immediately justified the reputation he had earned in those ensuing decades as a gaffe machine of incomparable quality. Asked to sum up the competition, Biden opined that Barack Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man.” The comment made the list of TIME Magazine’s Top Ten Campaign Gaffes for 2007. In a debate performance some months later, he stated that he stood by his earlier comments that Obama was too inexperienced in foreign policy to lead the nation, a sound bite which the McCain campaign lost no time incorporating in an ad as soon as the announcement of his running mate status had been made. After garnering just 1% of Iowa’s caucus delegates on 3 January 2008, Biden withdrew from the presidential race on the following day.
Born 20 November, 1942, at 8:30 AM in Scranton, PA (time unconfirmed), Biden’s galactic contacts make him a formidable candidate. The Sun at 27 Scorpio is exactly conjunct a Quasar, and forms a T-Square with the Black Hole at 27 Aquarius and the Maser at 27 Taurus. Sun/Quasar folks seem to have the knack of getting things done—success and accomplishment come easily to these individuals, and often early, as shown in Biden’s election as the fifth-youngest member in Senate history (elected at age 29 in November 1972, Biden was technically too young to serve, but turned 30 before being sworn in the following January). They network well, and have an enhanced level of visibility: Biden’s high Senate profile has as much to do with his presence and oratorical gifts as his longevity. The Black Hole can cut both ways, seemingly helping in his abrupt rise from County Councilman to US Senator, but quashing his presidential aspirations twice, only to revive his career with this nomination. The Maser provokes a degree of controversy unfortunate in a public official, borne out by the frequent gaffes and blunt appraisals of opponents and critics (in lampooning fellow presidential aspirant Rudy Giuliani, Biden has stated that the former New York mayor’s sentence structure consists of “a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”). Biden has often been compared to Robert Kennedy in his appeal to liberals, his hope-filled, idealistic rhetoric and his ability to inspire, and in fact he shares the former Massachusetts Senator’s solar degree and galactic aspects.
It is Biden’s Mars, however, that may make him the most useful partner for Obama. At 12 Scorpio, it exactly squares Obama’s Sun at 12 Leo, perhaps helping to shore up the candidate’s intestinal fortitude, and ably fitting Biden to perform the traditional “attack dog” functions of the running mate. Obama seems somewhat intimidated by the incidence of John McCain’s natal Mars in exact conjunction with his own Sun. Biden’s Mars in exact square to McCain’s may help to bring the fight home to the GOP nominee, while still acting to preserve Obama’s carefully cultivated “above it all” aloof stance as a practitioner of the “new politics.” That Mars also forms a Galactic T-Square with the Maser at 13 Leo and the Black Hole at 12 Aquarius. Often Black Hole Mars has a sexual secret or two to hide, but if such is the case with Biden, he has been extraordinarily careful about covering his tracks (unlike fellow nomination contender John Edwards, whose Black Hole Mars caught up with him this August).
Biden’s natal Jupiter at 25 Cancer closely conjoins the USA Mercury at 24 Cancer, perhaps compelling the reputation of verbosity which his name evokes. Biden is not above poking fun at his legendary loquaciousness; when asked in a presidential debate whether he could reassure voters that he would not let himself get carried away in excess verbiage, Biden made the singular, if pithy, response, “Yes.” That Jupiter also tightly squares the Black Hole at 24 Aries, a marker both of the substantial power he has accrued in his time on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that earlier inflation of his academic record.
Saturn at 9 Gemini broadly conjoins a Maser at 6 Gemini and exactly opposes the Black Hole at 9 Sagittarius. Some degree of controversy should be expected in his career with this placement, and this has been the case, but it has also been marked by stunning advancement and the unexpected victory which propelled his career in national politics, both of Black Hole derivation. But typical of Black Hole Saturn natives, who can devote enormous amounts of energy to career matters but still chase the will-o-the-wisp of their aspirations for decades, the ultimate goal of the presidency has thus far eluded him. Transit Saturn had just finished its exact square to his natal placement earlier in the same week that his selection as Obama’s running mate was announced.
Black Hole Saturn often receives preferment due to the unexpected departure of superiors, and it would be remiss at this point not to recall an earlier discussion in my article on “Masers and Assassination” regarding the high incidence of Sun/Maser contacts in the charts of fallen leaders [see the May 2008 Daykeeper for details]. Obama fits this pattern, with the Sun conjunct the Maser at 13 Leo, and in that light, there was an uncomfortable moment in the roll-out rally given on the steps of the old State House in Springfield, Illinois, the day that Biden’s candidacy was announced. In making this introduction, Obama called upon the crowd to recognize “the next president” of the United States, before correcting himself to say “vice president.”
Similarly, in the chart cast for the opening of the Democratic National Convention (25 August 2008, 4 PM MDT, Denver, CO), asteroid “Josefa” (a feminine version of Joseph) makes a better showing than asteroid Barry (as the youthful “Barack” was called). At 5 Libra, Barry is elevated in the Ninth House within the Gauquelin Sector, and conjunct Mars, but Josefa stands proudly alone in the Tenth House of career and status in the world.
That chart also shows an angular Moon, void of course at 28 Gemini just minutes after its opposition to Pluto, which is rising to within a minute of arc. Power plays among the delegates seem indicated, and dominate the narrative of the convention. The Sun at 3 Virgo broadly conjoins Saturn at 10 Virgo, a good combination for picking a chief executive, but with Clintons speaking on two of four nights, just whose convention is this, anyway? Asteroid Hillary at 1 Gemini is grouped with traveling companions Kassandra at 8 Gemini and Chaos at 11 Gemini—what sort of havoc will her still incensed supporters create in the roll call floor vote where Hillary Clinton’s name will be nominated in competition with Obama’s, and what does this portend for the election in November? Adding insult to injury is minor planet Eris, named for the goddess of fractiousness, quarrels and discontent, which at 21 Aries is angular exactly on the Nadir, and opposes both Sisyphus and Requiem on the Midheaven. The Democrats are perhaps poised to roll that rock up the electoral hill yet again, with perhaps the same results. If they cannot win in this favorable atmosphere, it may indeed be time for a requiem mass for the Party.
But the name most likely to be heard at the Democratic Convention is that of opponent John McCain, and the chart bears this out as well. With asteroid Johnny exactly rising on the Ascendant with Pluto at 28 Sagittarius, and asteroid McCann in exact opposition to the Sun from 3 Pisces, this is really all about him anyway.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.