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Obama’s VP Pick: The Clean and Articulate Joe Biden

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Vice President, VP, text message,

Cell phones across the land just woke folks up with the news that Barack Obama has chosen Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware to fill his VP slot.

More to come soon, when it’s not 3 in the morning.

UPDATE (8/23/2008, 11:00 a.m.): OK. Now that it’s a civilized hour for discussing such matters, here’s some choice reaction from the blogosphere.

Here’s Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish:

The biggest emerging problem with the Obama campaign is Obama’s reluctance, lack of talent and lack of will to get into lively, feisty, pissing matches with his opponent. This was brought home in the Saddleback forum. What he needs is a plucky, fun, free-wheeling attack machine, with the necessary gravitas to express adequate contempt for the Bush administration's fatally misguided foreign policy without in any way seeming defensive.

Greg Sargent at TPM also focuses on Biden’s attack dog creds:

Rather than whine about how mean Republicans are when they hit Dems on national security, as so many Dems do, Biden has a real talent for responding with an appropriate mixture of mockery and contempt.... Biden, ultimately, shares and embodies one of the core convictions driving Obama's campaign: That Democrats can win an argument about national security with Republicans, and shouldn't run from a fight on the topic or concede any sort of presumed GOP superiority on it.

On the downside, Sargent notes:

The choice of Biden introduces a loquacious and occasionally gaffe-prone figure into a campaign that's largely succeeded because of its extraordinary message discipline.

Ezra Klein, reposting from his June case for Biden, makes the point perhaps most succinctly about what Biden brings to the Dems’ ticket:

Joe Biden is an incredibly arrogant jerk. And that’s exactly what Democrats need.

Other than being the designated Pub flayer, Klein astutely points out another plus: Biden’s been in the Senate a while, knows it well, and can work its levers—something, we noted in our July-Aug. issue, either candidate looking past November 4 would be wise to consider:

And Biden, who’s got a long history of bipartisanship in the Senate and deep ties to the institution, would probably prove a pretty effective emissary when Obama needs a couple more votes for this or that piece of legislation.

On the other side of blogtown, Townhall.com fronts the analysis of the AP’s Ron Fournier:

The candidate of change went with the status quo.... The picks say something profound about Obama: For all his self-confidence, the 47-year-old Illinois senator worried that he couldn't beat Republican John McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Biden selection is the next logistical step in an Obama campaign that has become more negative—a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey lambaste the soon-to-be-infamous middle-of-the-night text botch. And Morrissey adds a few other dirt-digging zingers:

Biden told serial lies on the campaign trail in 1987 about his background and education, rudely dismissed a voter by telling him that he (Biden) had a “bigger IQ”, and most notoriously plagiarized a speech from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.  All of this will come out in this election.

My two cents: Malkin and Morrissey have my vote on the text timing. Obama didn’t want to be woken up by Clinton’s red phone at 3 a.m., and I feel the same way about the O-Team text that buzzed me out of my slumber. But onto more substantive affairs.

Obama does need an attack dog, so Biden seems fitting, but less as a designated hitter and more as someone who can teach Obama to throw a few punches himself. More importantly, Biden’s smart, and that’s how Obama and his crew have gotten as far as they have: by picking the smartest folks in the room and corralling them into a strategy corner.

I agree with Klein, Biden is an arrogant jerk. The Dems may need some of that, but being an ass brings with it the baggage of alienating some folks. I also worry that the Obama team may have been rattled by a bad August and made their pick from the mindset of being against the ropes. And that’s never a good thing. (I for one am glad they had a bad August. They needed to force the media to put McCain in the spotlight for a while. The fact that the only thing that spotlight hit was negative campaign ads is telling.)

Now it’s on to the McCain VEEP speculation race. You’ll have to stay tuned, but at least this time you won’t have to stay awake.