If vice-presidential picks are a reflection of a campaign's conclusion midway through the general election, then this is what Biden says about the Obama campaign's lessons thus far: Voters don't believe in change. Not yet, anyway, They're open to it. But they're skeptical. They need to be persuaded, cajoled, convinced.
There was a hope in the early days of the Obama campaign that simple, sharp difference would be enough. Obama was different in aesthetics and experience and age and ideas. Different would assert change. Hence the long and enlivening Kathleen Sebelius boomlet. Obama/Sebelius would have represented change. Visually, her and Obama on a stage together would have been the most powerful image of political transformation in decades. But a choice like her presupposed belief. Otherwise, you'd be adorning a cathedral that had no promise of parishioners.
As the election wore on, though, and Obama's poll numbers slackened and fell, they realized they needed to make their case. They needed an arguer. Someone able to make the case that the other guy is wrong, and Obama is right. That's, fundamentally, what Biden represents.
They look good together, and Biden looks like he is having the time of his life... The other thing is that Biden is a good enough of a speaker that he doesn’t seem completely over-shadowed after hearing Obama.
And I really do not think it can be underestimated how much the beltway boys love Biden. The Matthews/Russert/Imus axis of loudmouth love the guy, and that isn’t a knock on Biden.
The Rude Pundit:
Biden's son is heading to Iraq. That's the kind of political street cred it takes something like five and a half years in a prison camp to earn...
[from Friday]...Rude Pundit hopes Obama picks Biden for VP - that motherfucker's a pit pull who enjoys prancing in the bloody sprinkler left behind after he gets his jaws locked on an opponent's jugular.
[liveblogging the announcement] 3.45 pm. I get it: Biden is the older, working class, Catholic guy who tells the nervous white ethnics that this guy is for real. This is about Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan. Less yuppie hope; more working class grit. No wonder they chose Springsteen to kick it off.
[Later analysis] We've learned how disastrous a vice-president can be, in the current administration. No vice-president in American history has done as much damage to national security, constitutional integrity and the moral standing of the United States as Dick Cheney. Biden has aspects of the Cheney pick - he's older, more seasoned and more adept at foreign policy than Obama. But no one imagines that Obama would delegate - and all but abdicate - critical decisions to Biden the way Bush has to Cheney.
Nonetheless, it seems obvious that Biden speaks his mind frankly, and would have real heft and independence in the office. He knows enough that foreign leaders call him in international crises. That reassures me, as we face some grim days in the coming years in the war on terror.
This strikes me, in other words, as a pick for a candidate who is already very serious about governing - and making calls that forgo a campaign buzz for the sake of the country if he wins. Putting country first, you might say.
The more I think about it, the more I like it.
He is undisciplined and unpredictable --- but I have to tell you, I think the Obama campaign could use a little bit of that at this point. They are control freaks and I don't think it's such a bad thing for them to have a little bit of a loose cannon in their midst.
The major pro is that this signals as desire to take the argument to John McCain on national security policy which is a wise decision — the American people deserve to hear a full-spectrum debate about the issues facing the country rather than a positional battle in which one party talks about the economy and the other talks about national security. It’s also the case, as I noted previously, that Biden’s ascendancy augurs well for the SUPERTRAIN even though this aspect of his record isn’t especially well-known or close to the core of his political persona.
Biden also has the lowest net worth of any U.S. Senator. Combined with Barack Obama whose prosperity is a very recent consequence of book sales, it’s definitely a ticket that can argue they have more personal acquaintance with the struggles of middle class American life than John McCain or George Bush or recent Democratic nominees like John Kerry and Al Gore. It also seems to be a pick that the elite media is enthusiastic about, which isn’t necessarily an idea I’m enthusiastic about, but I suppose definitely counts as an asset.
[...]I’d be much happier if Joe Biden had opposed the 2002 Iraq AUMF. And even beyond that, I don’t always agree with his substantive positions on the issues. But one clear asset he has is that like only a handful of other prominent Democratic leaders (Wesley Clark one among them) Biden consistently approaches national security debates with an attitude of confidence that projects a desire to win the argument rather than wriggle away from it.
Obama in his introduction:
[Biden] he picked himself up, worked harder than the other guy, and got elected to the Senate -- a young man with a family and a seemingly limitless future.
"Then tragedy struck. Joe's wife Neilia and their little girl Naomi were killed in a car accident, and their two boys were badly hurt. When Joe was sworn in as a Senator, there was no ceremony in the Capitol -- instead, he was standing by his sons in the hospital room where they were recovering. He was 30 years old.
"Tragedy tests us -- it tests our fortitude and it tests our faith. Here's how Joe Biden responded. He never moved to Washington. Instead, night after night, week after week, year after year, he returned home to Wilmington on a lonely Amtrak train when his Senate business was done. He raised his boys -- first as a single dad, then alongside his wonderful wife Jill, who works as a teacher. He had a beautiful daughter. Now his children are grown and Joe is blessed with five grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service that his son, Beau, who is now Delaware's Attorney General, is getting ready to deploy to Iraq. And he still takes that train back to Wilmington every night. Out of the heartbreak of that unspeakable accident, he did more than become a Senator -- he raised a family. That is the measure of the man standing next to me. That is the character of Joe Biden."
And the man himself, in his first day on the job
Biden: "Your kitchen table is like mine, you sit there at night after you put the kids to bed and you talk about what you need. That's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at."