President Barack Obama had a surprise up his sleeve Thursday at a tribute to the vice president, awarding Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction.
Biden will be the third vice president to be awarded a Medal of Freedom.
Just eight days from their last day in office, Obama ran through Biden’s legacy almost in its entirety, including the vice president’s work as a young Delaware senator, as an advocate for women’s safety, and in his two terms in executive office, calling him a “lion of American history.”
“Behind the scenes, Joe’s honest and candid counsel has made me a better president and commander in chief. From the Situation Room to our weekly lunches to our huddles when everyone has left the room, he has been unafraid to give it to me straight,” Obama said.
For the past eight years, the close-knit relationship between Obama and Biden has become easy fodder for meme creators and internet dwellers alike, a phenomenon the two of them have come to recognize. The tribute “gives the internet one last chance to talk about our bromance,” Obama joked.
A teary-eyed and surprised Biden accepted the send-off by thanking the president for his support throughout the past two terms in office. He also thanked his family, noting the many trials — including the car accident that killed his first wife and first daughter, and, more recently, the death of his son Beau Biden to cancer — they have overcome together.
This is the second time Obama has honored Biden this week; he also thanked the VP in his farewell speech on Tuesday.
“To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best,” Obama said in Chicago. “Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.”