A MATCH MADE IN ELECTORAL HEAVEN?…. So much for my predictive skills. As regular readers may recall, back in April, I argued, “I just don’t think Obama would pick Biden, at least not for VP,” adding that his “chances appear remote.” I cited his role in passing the 2005 bankruptcy bill, his reputation for lacking message discipline, and his relative inability to deliver a state or constituency that Barack Obama would need to win in November.
More than four months later, it’s odd, then, that I feel rather relieved that it’s Biden joining Obama’s ticket. He was wrong on the bankruptcy bill, but he was supporting his home-state’s industry (much like an otherwise fine senator from West Virginia voting for coal). Biden has a history of being gaffe-prone, but as a presidential candidate, he seemed to learn quite a bit about staying on message. And while Delaware’s three electoral votes were probably a safe bet for the Obama campaign anyway, Biden’s Irish-Catholic, working-class background, and connection to Pennsylvania, may yet prove to be a valuable electoral asset.
There’s obviously no shortage of angles to consider this morning, but fundamentally, is Biden the perfect choice? No. Is he a wise choice? Almost certainly, yes. I was just re-reading an item Mark Halperin published earlier this week from a “keen” political observer:
“Biden is deeply thoughtful, serious, passionate, experienced, highly knowledgeable, and incredibly sensible and clear when talking about major issues. He has a vast and creative understanding of politics and policy, a sharp mind, and a sincere heart. He’s totally ready to be president. Together, Obama and Biden would represent the best of the last 30 years of the Democratic Party, and the hope for the next 30.
“Biden may be a ridiculous, overbearing blowhard, and he’ll doubtless make foolish blunders and imprudent comments if he’s on the ticket, but he’d still be an excellent campaigner, surrogate, and debater. He’d be thrilled at the prospect of being vice president (his own aspirations aside), and grateful and proud to have been chosen — he’d work hard to make Obama look good, and not deliberately outshine him — plus the chemistry will be appealing, and they genuinely like and respect each other, which will be winningly apparent.
“Also, America is no longer a place where citizens care about plagiarism or hair plugs. A Biden pick would immediately elevate Obama’s gravitas, give him a semblance of humility, delight the media, and reassure the nation that a grownup is involved. Democrats would be simultaneously relieved and apprehensive, but they’d be pleased with the choice overall. Plus, Biden is Catholic, is a Washington insider in a good way (a hardworking man of the people unchanged by three decades inside the Beltway), and has an endearingly tragic history with a happy ending.”
It’s probably fair to say that Biden isn’t an exciting, inspirational choice, but that’s largely the point — Obama has the exciting, inspirational aspect of the race already covered.
Biden is overwhelmingly qualified, brings foreign policy heft to the ticket, has a fairly progressive voting record, does not suffer fools kindly, and is extremely well suited to be an aggressive, attack-dog running mate. He would help Obama govern, and given his age (65), Biden would likely follow Cheney’s example and not spend his time positioning himself for a run in 2016.
All things being equal, Obama could have done a whole lot worse.