As the Atlantic reported on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that he is not running for president. However, in a speech that sounded very much like an announcement speech, the vice president suggested that what the United States needs is one final push to find a cure for cancer. His son Beau, who so famously urged Biden to run for president from his death bed, died from the disease. There is not likely a person living in America who does not know someone who has had cancer or who has had it themselves. Biden may well be on to something that would be greater bid for a legacy that a third campaign for the presidency.
“I believe we need a moon shot in this country to cure cancer. It’s personal. But I know we can do this. The president and I have already been working hard on increasing funding for research and development because there are so many breakthroughs just on the horizon in science and medicine, the things that are just about to happen, and we can make them real, with an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today. And I’m going to spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to accomplish this, because I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who share our passion—our passion to silence this deadly disease.”
Biden is perfectly correct that a myriad of breakthroughs is just on the cusp of becoming treatments available in a clinical setting. For example, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found a way to turn aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells back into normal cells. Another team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore are developing a robot maggot that could eat hitherto inoperable brain tumors. Another team at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found a way to cause leukemia cells to kill each other.
If Biden spends his final months pushing through an infusion of cash to fund research projects that are developing cutting-edge cancer therapies, he will have elevated his legacy quite a bit. From the doddering old gaffe-prone Uncle Joe, he will become the man who helped provide the funding that finally makes the horror of cancer a thing of the past. The beauty of the thing is that such an initiative would likely get bi-partisan support. Cancer is not respectful of political differences. It takes the conservative, the libertarian, and the liberal with equal remorselessness.
And, if Hillary Clinton gets indicted, Biden could always run for president too.