This morning, Vice President Biden gave the commencement address
at Wake Forest University, a slot originally scheduled for Tim Russert. The Vice President spoke at length about Russert, saying "Tim Russert enlivened and enriched our debate. He gave it meaning. He gave it substance. Along the way he made all of our lives richer." The Vice President was still wistful as he turned towards the world the graduates were inheriting:
William Butler Yeats was right. Tim used to always kid me about quoting Irish poets. He thought I quoted them because I was Irish. That's not the reason. I quote Irish poets because they're the best poets. (Laughter.)
There's a great line in one of Yeats' poems about the first rising in Ireland. It's called Easter Sunday, 1916. And the line is more applicable to your generation than it was to his Ireland in 1960. And he said: All changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.
When I graduated, all had not changed utterly yet. Today, it has. And in the last 12 to 15 years, a terrible beauty has been born. It's a different world out there than it has been any time in the last millennia. But we have an opportunity to make it beautiful, because it is in motion. We have an opportunity to change it. But absent our leadership, it will continue to careen down the path we're going now. And that could be terrible. That, folks, is an inflection point.
(Vice President Joe Biden processes into the Wake Forest Commencement Ceremony in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Monday, May 18, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)