Vice President Joe Biden, who is known for speaking his mind, didn’t mince words in his commencement address to Yale graduates on Sunday.
“Intellectual horsepower and tolerance alone does not make a generation great unless you can break out of the bubble of your own making, technologically, geographically, racially, socially,” Biden said during the Ivy League university’s graduation. “To truly connect with the world around you because it matters. No matter your material success, it matters.”
Continued the vice president, who sported a pair of aviator sunglasses: “You can’t breathe fresh air or protect your children from a changing climate no matter what you make if your sister is a victim of domestic violence, you are violated. If your brother can’t marry the man he loves, you are lessened. And if your best friend has to worry about being racially profiled, you live in a circumstance not worthy of us.”
Biden did offer up some of his trademark humor, poking fun at his own outspokenness.
“I realize no one ever doubts I mean what I say. The problem occasionally is I say all that I mean,” Biden said. “I have a bad reputation for being straight, sometimes at inappropriate times.”
Biden also urged graduates to “look beyond the caricature” of a person.
“When you question a man’s motives, when you say they’re acting out of greed or in the pocket of an interest group, it’s awful hard to reach consensus,” he said.
The vice president also poked a little fun at the Yale graduates themselves, who have a tradition of wearing large, crazy hats ranging from re-creations of homes to boom boxes and blocks of cheese to beer mugs.
“Please stand and applaud the ones who love you,” Biden first told the grads. “No matter what you’re wearing on your head.”