>> Saturday, August 23, 2008
Barack Obama announced his choice for Vice President today. His choice is the Senior Senator from Delaware Joe Biden. Everyone on the web has given their thoughts on the Biden choice and i am going to be no different on this occasion. I like Biden.
There are a number of potential negatives to the pick.
1. Biden is a "balance pick" designed to sure up perceived weaknesses.
The problem with balance picks is that they admit to the weakness in the principle. Obama has spent a great deal of time fighting on foriegn policy grounds and his chosen running mate is someone perceived as a foriegn policy specialist. It is a potential admission that Obama needed help in this area. While the conventional wisdom is that Biden will solve this weakness in the minds of voters i am rather dubious of this claim. People vote the top of the ticket and that is still Obama v McCain. Obama will always be making the final decision and while Biden can advise if you think Obama cannot handle the job the fact his VP can would not be as helpful as CW providers think.
2. Biden is a long time Washington guy and as such does not reinforce central theme of Obama campaign.
Biden has been in the senate for some time now. Obama has predicated his candidacy on his outsider status and his "change" theme. Biden is not that guy. He has a great deal of experience and also some responsibility for the problems Obama rails against. It comes with the territory after such a long tenure. This is not the to say Biden is not liberal or a DINO. Biden is a more liberal Democrat despite his atrocious Bankruptcy Bill.
3. Biden is going to be a story.
The star of this show is Barack Obama. People will go to the polls and decide if Obama has the gravitas to lead our country. When voters make their choice they should not be thinking about what the potential vice president has said or done. Biden is someone who is not afraid of the camera or the spotlight. He will be center stage at some point in the campaign for what he has said and detract from the Obama campaigns message. Biden loves to talk and can be unfailingly blunt when doing so. It is a risk to have someone like Biden as the number two because of his outspoken personality and nature.
Those are the negatives. The positives of the Biden pick though are numerous. Biden brings something to the ticket no other Dem would, otherwise he would not have been the guy.
1. Biden will kick ass.
Joe Biden is not afraid to mix it up with his opponents and call them out for lies and pandering. His great line about Rudi Giuliani, "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, and a verb and 9/11," is one of the best in recent political history setting Giuliani up as a figure to ridicule. That is Joe Biden he has wit and he has timing and he has no fear. In his introduction today he had a great line,
You sit at your kitchen table and worry about how to pay the bills. That's not something John McCain has to worry about. He worries about which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.
The reason that this is such a good attribute is that McCain lies constantly. He hides behind his POW status in order to avoid tough questions about his policies and his actions. Biden will be the lead Armored Division for the Dems hitting McCain on his gaffes and never letting him up.
2. Debate Skills
Part of what makes Biden such a good attacker makes him a good debater. He will confront whoever McCain places opposite him and not let him lie like Edwards and Lieberman did. Biden will tear his opponent apart and his performance should prevent the VP Debate from being a negative for the Dems.
3. His Image
Biden's image is that of a working class guy made good. Someone who has not forgotten where he came from. He rides Amtrack to work. The media should love to portray Biden as "the guy from the neighborhood". If they like to portray Obama as an intellectual or too upper class, Biden will be the opposite. It makes a good team photo. For the people who care about our candidates being seen as working class guys Biden fits that image. For what the VP is worth he should help Obama with some more reticent voters in the Rust Belt states.
4. Foreign Policy Gravitas
Obama's vice president was requested by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in the recent crisis. Biden is a widely acknowledged foreign policy guy. This means that when McCain makes his ridiculous statements about his policies for the world Biden will be able to highlight just how dangerous and reactionary they are. As long as he is seen as acting in his own words he will have a great amount of credibility and should receive press coverage to match. The biggest issue with the Dems has been their inability to hit McCain and make people understand how dangerous they are Biden solves this.
Over all i like Biden as the VP pick. There was no perfect choice but Biden seems fairly good to me. He has some risks but also a great deal of upside. As long as Biden can handle the pressure of the contest and act much in the same way he did during the primaries he should be a welcome addition to the ticket. Obama/Biden '08!