August 19, 2008


Sen. 'Big Mouth' Biden for Obama's Veep? (Paul Bedard, 8/19/08, US News)

[W]hen he junked his last presidential campaign and Sen. Barack Obama emerged, some floated Biden's name as a potential secretary of state, in part because he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a very comfortable on the world stage. But it was dismissed by other Democrats who thought the popular Delaware senator's wordy style and knack for sometimes saying the wrong thing was less than ideal for the world's top diplomat. So why would Obama consider Biden as a vice presidential choice? Well, in a word, say Democratic sources, because of his mouth. The thinking is that Biden could take on Sen. John McCain's Straight Talk Express with his own blunt style while allowing Obama to continue his more thoughtful and cerebral style.

...but it's interesting to consider what a Biden choice says about Mr. Obama. Our best recent presidents have gone for men of some heft as their running mates: Ronald Reagan was willing to run with a former president, until Gerald Ford got overly ambitious; Bill Clinton ran with a more responsible version of himself; and W ran with a former chief of staff. On the other hand, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush signaled their own insecurity by picking featherweights and Jimmy Carter just went with a Beltway hack. Mr. Obama seems ready to follow the latter group rather than the former, with Mr. Biden, who has no executive experience, has run two profoundly inept presidential campaigns, and is so poorly thought of by his other peers that he wasn't even considered for a cabinet spot by Bill Clinton.

While Mr. Obama's unwillingness to share the ticket with a person of substance is revealing, his particular choice is deeply troubling. Readers of Richard Ben Cramer's generally favorable portrait of the Senator in What it Takes will recall that Mr. Biden comes across as more or less of a con man, a lovable one, but nontheless a complete b.s. artist. His modus operandi is to try and bury listeners under a barrage of verbiage and hope he can charm them enough that they won't pay too close attention to what he just said. It's been his bad fortune that any time he's been exposed to the public spotlight--his campaigns, the judiciary hearings he chaired, etc.--he's imploded under the glare of attention. The question for Mr. Obama is: can we trust the judgment of a prospective president who doesn't see through even so obvious a carny barker as Joe Biden?

After all, if he was just looking for a cipher who the Beltway thinks has foreign policy cred he could have taken someone harmless like Sam Nunn. Mr. Nunn's resume may be just as skimpy, but he's considerably less oleaginous. Or, were he not afraid of suffering by comparison to the undercard, Mr. Obama could have picked Bill Richardson, a womanizer by all accounts and a slob, but a governor and someone with genuine foreign policy experience.

The Democrats are hurt here by having such a short bench, but it's hard to believe there was a worse choice available.

Obama and Running Mate To Hold Joint Event Saturday (Jake Tapper, August 19, 2008, ABC News: Political Punch)

Senator Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and his yet-to-be chosen Vice Presidential running mate will hold an event at the symbolic old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois – the site where Obama kicked off his own presidential run eighteen months ago.

“This will be the kickoff to our trip to the convention,” Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki says of the midday event.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 19, 2008 7:14 PM
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