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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden the Ideal Choice for VP

This morning I received a 3am phone call from the Obama campaign - well, actually it was a text message - informing me that Senator Joe Biden, of Delaware, is now Obama's VP candidate. I could not be happier. Heck, I've wanted this ticket since the first Democratic Primary debate 16 months ago. So, keeping in mind my bias here, lets explore why Senator Biden is a brilliant choice.

(1) Experience: This is the most obvious advantage from picking Biden. Biden is the senior senator from Delaware, in the senate since 1973. He is every bit the "elder statesman" and has served as chairman (and ranking minority member in Republican years) of arguably the two most important Senate committees - the Judiciary Committee from 1981-1995 and the Foreign Relations Committee from 1997-2007. His record on both committees is prestigious, though not spotless. On the judiciary committee, he presided over the defeat of Robert Bork, and narrowly bungled the nomination of Clarence Thomas. Biden was a long-standing advocate of intervention in the Balkans, which became a hallmark success of the Clinton administration.

(2) Derailing the "straight-talk express": This is another obvious benefit to picking Biden. McCain has built a reputation over the past decade as a Washington reformer, as someone above partisan politics, who speaks to the people. The irony of this is that McCain's current campaign shows serious signs of flip-flopping on his past record in an effort to win over moderate voters, and a frightewning lack of knowledge about vital issues - notably the economy and environment. However, if there is any senator with a reputation for "speaking truth to power" that can match John McCain's pre-election reputation, it is Biden. Biden is well-known for his straight-shooting, sometimes blunt assessments of a situation, and for a wise-cracking sense of humor very akin to McCain's in many ways. True, this has gotten Biden into trouble in the past, but it does ensure that his statements are taken seriously by the media - and Obama's ability to draw subtle distinctions in a reasonable tone should help to defuse any tension it generates. At the same time, it means that Biden will not hesitate to attack McCain's flip-flopping in this campaign, or point out, in no uncertain terms, how and why the two candidates differ - and why Obama is the better choice.

(3) Connecting with Middle America: Here is another aspect of Biden's persona that helps shore up Obama's perceived weaknesses (though I, for one, think this perception is short-sighted spin). Biden, the son of a car salesman (born in Scranton, PA), is the least wealthy member of the Senate, commutes to work daily on Amtrak (a 90-min train ride each way, I checked), did not go to an Ivy-league school (alma maters: U of Delaware and Syracuse University), is Irish Catholic, and exudes down-to-earth common sense. Biden is someone who, for all his time in Washington, understands how most of the country lives. Oh, and did I mention that his son (Delaware's Attorney General and a Captain in the National Guard) is deploying to Iraq in October?

(4) Ideological Blend - Reinforcing the Message of Change: This is a less obvious parallel, one somewhat obscured by the media and McCain's spin. After all, Biden has been in the Senate for thirty-five years. But the question is not "how long" Biden has been in politics, but "what has he done?" The goal of the campaign is to change divisive politics, but that cannot be done without working with those who are already in politics. Joe Biden knows the people in Washington and has worked with them, but he has always done so in the spirit of meaningful change. This is a man who grew up in the 1960s Civil Rights movement. This is a man who sponsored and pushed through the Violence Against Women Act. Biden fought to bring Slobodam Milosovic to justice, to support independence and democracy in the Balkans - not as a false pretense, but as a fundamental goal. Biden represents a man who has fought, within Washington, for the change platform that Obama is campaigning on.

(5) Personality Blend - Working together in Office: In some ways, this may be the most important aspect here. How well will these two individuals work together, if they are elected? I think the answer has to be, very well. On the one hand there are the obvious agreements - Biden is a progressive Democrat who wants to bring opportunity to the middle class, who opposes the neoconservative "black and white" foreign policy of the past eight years. On the other hand, there is Biden's combative personality and sharp sense of humor. These are two men who can banter back-and-forth and establish a sincere working rapport, and will agree on our general goals. But, even given this rapport, Biden will insist that his views be heard and is not afraid to tell Obama: "Mr. President, you're wrong."

In short, the selection of Joe Biden is nothing short of brilliant. There is a deep synergy between these two candidates, they represent a team that complements each others strengths while shoring up each other's weaknesses. Biden is the pragmatic veteran warrior of change the Obama campaign needs. Finally, this is a ticket that can bring hope to America.

4 comments:

Nick Dreher said...

I really like the Biden choice as well. I think that it shows a sort of maturity from Obama. He really is looking beyond today's politics. As far as I can tell, Biden is one of the least political choices Obama could have made. By that I mean that Obama has less to gain in the election with Biden than several of the other choices. For example, Kane of Virginia, Hillary, and the guy from Indiana all had certain constituencies that they appearance as running mate would have sured up. Biden, on the other hand, is less likely to bring major constituencies to Obama. Instead, it appears that Obama chose the man that would be the best vice president, not the person who would help him get the most votes.

MEW said...

Hurray!

Katy said...

I have to admit, I've been quietly sitting on the fence for the last handful of months, watching all the separate campaigns. (Had Clinton nailed the nomination, I'd vote for McCain.) But Obama got it, leaving me somewhat conflicted, since I had something approaching optimism for both sides.

And then Biden was chosen for McCain's veep. Yikes. Fence-sitting is over!

Katy said...

Crap! Meant to say Palin! That'll teach me to type while on cold medicine. -_-