Saturday, August 23, 2008



After the Chet Edwards, last-minute extravaganza (one that had me wondering about how an Obama-Edwards ticket would look: Edwards? Why did he choose someone who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife?), Obama opted for Joe Biden. The Delaware senator does what the pundits have said Obama may need to do with his vice presidential choice, mainly shore up some of those perceived foreign policy and experience weaknesses. And this one doesn't feel like a safe pick as Evan Bayh would have. Biden has a personality and enough experience to actually hold his own on Wednesday night, a night when Bill Clinton is also speaking at the Democratic Convention. The drawback? Well, Biden suffers from occasional foot-in-the-mouth disease, but hey, he's the VP not the nominee, right?

My other thought on a morning where I received the news via radio (and not the middle of the night text message--ah, technology) is that the choice of Biden seems an awful lot like Bush's selection of Cheney eight years ago. Yeah, some readers aren't going to like me drawing that parallel, but it is at least partially true. In Biden, Obama has someone with some experience. Bush got that by picking Cheney as well. But with that experience, comes someone realitively longer in the tooth than the actual nominee. Biden is 65 and would be 73 if Obama makes it through two terms, not an age that we often see someone running for president successfully. [McCain may prove me wrong on this, but since we're in the midst of a hypothetical, bear with me.] In that sense, Biden could represent a VP choice who ultimately does not have the ambition to aspire to the presidency. Yes, I'm talking about a guy who has run for president twice -- in 1988 and 2008 -- but by that point in his life things may be different. Yes, this is certainly speculative, but when you do what I do you look for these sorts of openings, like 2008 repeating itself on 2016. By that I mean an open race for both nominations with no one from the current administration running. And who among us doesn't secretly wish for a similar sort of race?

With that, what are your thoughts and opinions of Obama's choice?

PS: I'll be back later in the day with a look at the August trends, so we can get a sense of where they are prior to the conventions.

Recent Posts:
More on the Effort to Curb 2012 Frontloading

The Links (8/21/08): National Party Convention Bounces

Blog Note


Unknown said...

I'm still intrigued by the whole text message thing.

Was it going to be in the middle of the night all along? In retrospect, maybe it had to be: the text messages ended up spread over several hours, as far as I can tell. The picture I had of everyone's cell phones going off at once was technologically impossible.

Was 3 am the target, as in the 3 am phone call? If so, that's rubbing Clinton supporters noses in it too much. It reminds me of the White House staff in 2001 removing the W's from the keyboards before they left.

Or did the Obama campaign get forced into releasing earlier than they intended when the leaks started coming out?

And was this ever really about a dramatic release, or was it about getting more contact information?

Jack said...

I don't understand the middle of the night choice either. But Biden is a great choice. As he's from Scranton, he'll help with working class voters and in Northeast Pennsylvania. He'll help a little with Catholics, and with seniors. He can attack with the best of them, and I would like to think that in this situation, now that he's the nominee, he'd be reasonably disciplined without losing his bite.

I don't know if it's that he doesn't have the ambition to be president as much as he's probably realized it's not going to happen. He didn't get anywhere this year, in a race dominated by Clinton and Obama (and to a lesser extent, John Edwards), but he wasn't even able to rise far above Richardson and Kucinich. That doesn't mean he wouldn't run if 2012 if Obama loses. Being on the ticket won't hurt his chances at eventually becoming president; those chances are just not good right now.

Robert said...

Interesting pick. With this matchup, we will elect a sitting Senator as President for the first time since 1960. I can't recall any ticket with two sitting Senators, although Kerry-Edwards was close. I suspect that the Republicans will make a big deal about no executive experience on the ticket, particularly if McCain selects a current or former Governor.

Robert said...

I see the Republicans are using Biden's comments about Obama against the ticket. The Democrats will have lots of two-way material to use on a McCain-Romney ticket!

Jack said...

Robert, just did some research, and the last ticket with two sitting senators (not counting the ill-fated McGovern-Eagleton ticket in 1972) was Kennedy-Johnson in 1960.

Robert said...


Thanks. I'm embarrassed that I did not think of that ticket.

Anonymous said...

You know, I hadn't even thought about the 3am link to that ad. And now that I do, I don't really take it in a negative way.

My initial thought, and one that I'm sticking with, is that this was intended not as a 3am roll out but as a midnight (Pacific) rollout. Look, the text message think was one that targeted only a select (youthful) group. So it began a buzz on the West Coast and ensured that, along with this Springfield event today, this story would dominate the news from the start this morning. Oh sure, you could argue that it would have dominated anyway, but you start some buzz this way and have a large group of people eager to check the situation first thing in the morning this way. Yes, I was disappointed that I missed, but it was the first thing I heard this morning when I put NPR on.

Jack said...

Just finished watching the event in Springfield, and now I'm even happier with Biden. Thought he took a little while to really get going, but when he did, he did a very effective job of attacking McCain while portraying (with help from Obama's excellent speech) the ticket as one that could identify with most Americans.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Jack.

Biden and McCain may not be best buddies, but they have been in the Senate together for over two decades. That gives Biden the ability to play not only attack dog but legitimately knowledgeable attack dog. It is one thing to say, "Well, that's a VP nominee, he's just attacking the other." But it is another thing altogether when you can add in that history in the Senate.

The speech Wednesday night will be must-watch. Well, I would have been watching regardless.

Back in a while with the August (so far) shifts.

Rubia en EspaƱa said...

I must admit, even though I raised my hand for Biden in class Friday, I'm a little disappointed that Obama picked a senator who has served for 35 years when he has been touting "change" throughout his campaign. Age and years in the biz, collectively referred to as "experience," do not always yield brilliant decisions. I'm still an Obama girl, I just wish he would have stuck to his guns and picked another fresh face, preferably one with executive experience.

Jack said...

As I've said on 538, to effect real change, you have to win first. Obama has to be somewhat pragmatic in order to get elected.

And I would argue Biden, while he's spent much time as a senator, still represents change from Bush's policies in just about every way, but especially in his rational, intelligent approach to foreign policy. He's an insider, yes, but not a bad one. And his experience as an insider will help the already politcally savvy Obama get more done as president.