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Initial comments on the Biden candidacy

24/08/2008

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Scoopit!

As Adam is sure most are aware Barack Obama chose Senator Joe Biden as his nominee for Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate.

Last September Senator Biden wrote a short piece for The Atlantic in their series The Future of the American Idea, it began:-

The unique idea of America embodied in our Bill of Rights is that people of diverse racial, religious, ethnic, and geographic origins can live together in peace and pursue their own happiness. The idea has survived civil war, world wars, and economic depression. With each challenge the idea has grown more robust. It has made us the envy of the world. It is the source of our strength as a nation.

Senator Biden finished with:-

Americans are pragmatic, confident, and idealistic. In 2008, new leadership will rekindle our faith in the idea of America. We don’t have to diminish the American idea in order to save it. Indeed, the only way to prevail in the struggle between freedom and fundamentalism is to enrich that idea in the face of threats.

Next year we will see a renaissance of self-confident freedom that will demonstrate to the world that the American idea is not just an ideal, but a living reality.

It will be fascinating to see how Obama and Biden mesh; the insider and the outsider, the new boy and the old hand.

Thus Adam was not surprised when he read thisMarc Ambinder blog post about how this is not a comfort zone pick for Obama. Ambinder says:-

Obama-Biden will be a formidable ticket, and a risky ticket, and not a comfort zone choice for Obama. “It’s a big ball pick, not a small ball pick,” an adviser said.

Put aside the obvious: Biden has foreign policy meat on his bones…He’s a great debater… he’s the party’s best foreign policy surrogate… world leaders call him…he has a working-class Scranton-bred Irish-Catholic heritage…he knows Washington very well…he has known tragedy in his life..

Ambinder notes also:-

Biden premised his presidential candidacy on the notion that Obama was unqualified and not ready from day one. You can expect that the McCain campaign or the RNC will run a national television advertisement featuring Biden’s many and various quotations to this effect. Biden will have to explain why he has changed his mind

Indeed the Republicans have already started see this earlier post by Adam.

Another factor is that Biden has spent 36 years in the Senate which fact Obama is going to have to sell to the electorate as Biden can hardly be presented as a change agent, he is a Washington insider. Some will see this choice as attempt to shore up Obama’s weak areas such as foreign affairs, lack of legislative experience for starters.

In a funny sort of way there is a comparison of sorts between JFK and LBJ, where LBJ provided the political fix due to his vast legislative experience which JFK lacked.

David Farrar comments here and suggests it is a solid choice.

Commentators have started debating whether Biden’s selection indicates confidence issues in the Obama camp as Ambinder notes:-

Ron Fournier says the pick demonstrates a lack of confidence. Maybe. Or maybe the pick demonstrates Obama’s confidence and a tempering of his overconfidence. Confidence, because Biden could upstage him, will be independent, and will be better at certain things than Obama. But if Obama were overconfident, if he believed that his personality and story alone were enough, then he’d have chosen someone less threatening.

Jafapete comments as well. He mirrors points made by Ambinder, in this extract from Jafapete’s post:-

It also signals, in my view, a fair degree of confidence on the part of Obama’s campaign that they didn’t need to come up with a really exciting choice that would shake up the election campaign.

A fairly safe choice, even if he doesn’t always choose his words too carefully. And some say he’s “no true friend of working men and women.”

So Obama has his VP choice, what now for McCain? Will it be Mitt Romney as Jafapete suggests it might? Such a choice will enable the Democrats to attack the Republicans for fielding two rich white males, one of whom is a Mormon. Perhaps McCain will be radical and live up to his maverick reputation!

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