As I’m sure you are aware – since no one gets their breaking news from a book blog – Barack Obama selected Senator Joe Biden from Delaware as his running mate this morning. A complex choice & one that I’m not sure I’m completely on board with yet.
Biden fills in the foreign policy gap on Obama’s resume fairly well, being well known in international circles as a diplomatic force – currently serving as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I like that he has been to Georgia in recent weeks, (the former SSR, not the Peach State) which should help deflect some of McCain’s criticism of Obama, who was on vacation while Georgia was invaded by Russia. On the other hand, he’s got a bit of a mouth and some of his comments about Obama – particularly during early campaign debates – are a little bit worrisome. Last year, he called Obama’s preparedness for the presidency into question, claiming that “the presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.” Wasting no time at all, McCain has already prepared a negative television commercial using Biden’s comments – but I don’t know how much effect this will have on undecided voters.
David Brooks from the NY Times thinks that Biden’s comments will be out weighed by his directness and intelligence, since “voters are smart enough to forgive the genuine flaws of genuine people.” In today’s political climate, where hate-mongers like Jerome Corsi can get the footholds that they do, this seems like an awfully naive assessment, especially coming from an experienced op-ed guy like Brooks. But I actually think that Biden’s comments were harmless – spoken in the midst of a presidential run by Biden himself, of course he would call his opponents records and abilities into question.
Biden did vote for the war in Iraq – a decision he, like HRC & others, came to publicly regret. I can’t really forgive that one, as it was one of my main sticking points with Clinton as well – how do we ultimately sift through the rubble left in the wake of that congressional decision? And he is more of a Washington insider than I would have liked – he’s been a senator since 1972 – not exactly the “change” I’d been hoping for.
But all that said, I do like his directness – it’s refreshing, actually, in this world of double-entendre politics. His assessment of Rudy Giuliani last year during a debate was particularly barbed: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11.” And, even though he has been critical of Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience, I like his experience in that area and I really think it helps Obama to fill that gap, as they say. I think he offers the correct amount of balance to the campaign – an experienced, vocal, (and yes, white) senator – to give the other side enough trouble in the coming weeks and to assuage the concerns of the undecided voter. I approve – now let’s get this damn thing done.