August 19, 2008


McCain's moment: Arizona senator outshines Obama at forum (San Diego Union-Tribune, August 19, 2008)

Barack Obama got a thumpin' at the forum at Saddleback Church in Orange County.

The hint was when liberal bloggers insisted that, despite Pastor Rick Warren's claim that John McCain was in a “cone of silence” while Obama was being interviewed, the Arizona senator must have heard the questions beforehand and thus was more at ease in answering them. How sad. What these bloggers forget is that McCain has been in Congress since 1983 and has probably learned a thing or two about communicating. And what they won't accept is what the rest of the country saw so clearly: McCain shined with answers that were crisp and precise, while Obama meandered with answers that seemed thoughtful but unoriginal.

Even inside the Obamabubble they seem well aware that they have to keep their candidate away from situations where he's not giving set-piece speeches from a script. That's why they ran from Maverick's townhall challenge like the Scarecrow from fire.

But it does seem possible that they're headed for a Beltway induced disaster in the form of Joe Biden for vp. Even setting aside how ill-suited Mr. Biden is for a presidential campaign--see Richard Ben Cramer's What it Takes, nevermind the chain of succession--the campaign apparently believes that because they all know about what a train wreck he made of his '88 presidential bid and that no one they know holds it against him any longer that the rest of America remembers it and has likewise moved on. But even amongst a politically aware group like we have here, how many really remember just how ugly it was? Sure, most of us remember that he not just plagiarized Neil Kinnock's stump speech but appropriated the Labour leader's life as his own--inventing coal-mining ancestors and disinventing college-attending ancestors for his wife--but do even wonks recall the rest, Biden Admits Errors and Criticizes Latest Report (E. J. DIONNE JR., 9/22/87, THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Most of Mr. Biden's statement was in response to a report in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine on a tape recording made by the C-SPAN network of an appearance by Mr. Biden at a home in Claremont, N.H., on April 3. It was a typical coffee-klatch style appearance before a small group. The network regularly records and broadcasts such events as part of its coverage of the Presidential campaign.

The tape, which was made available by C-SPAN in response to a reporter's request, showed a testy exchange in response to a question about his law school record from a man identified only as ''Frank.'' Mr. Biden looked at his questioner and said: ''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.''

He then went on to say that he ''went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,'' Mr. Biden said. He also said that he ''ended up in the top half'' of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was ''the outstanding student in the political science department'' and ''graduated with three degrees from college.'' Comments on Assertions

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: ''I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.''

As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: ''I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors - I said 'three' and should have said 'two.' '' Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

''With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,'' the statement went on. ''My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.''

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ''My recollection is - and I'd have to confirm this - but I don't recall paying any money to go to law school.'' Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ''on half scholarship based on financial need.''

And can an Obama campaign that's already sliding amidst questions of who the nominee really is afford to come out of its convention week with the entire focus on a vp pick who serially lied about who he is?

Obviously a candidate who's in as far over his head on foreign policy/national security as the Unicorn Rider needs some help in that regard, but what has Joe Biden ever done besides hold hearings on these questions? How can a guy who practically never had a job outside of Congress carry a message of changing the culture inside the Beltway? How does he help a nominee who has a frightening lack of executive experience when he has none himself?

No matter how many times the Great Mentioner tosses up his name, it's hard to believe that even as closed a campaign as Mr. Obama's can seriously be considering a blunder of such epic proportions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 19, 2008 10:32 AM
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