Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama-Biden 2008

The news of the day is why Joe Biden? What does it say about Barack Obama?

Some on the right have speculated that it suggests a lack of confidence but I'm not quite buying it.

I find Joe Biden to be a troubling pick but one that will almost assuredly help Sen. Obama. It isn't that Sen. Biden has any particular baggage that I know of, he doesn't. Nothing more than an almost quaint habit of being a blowhard. Nor is it that he's politically more offensive than Obama as he certainly isn't that. Rather, it's that he is the perfect media pick for Sen. Obama to distract from his obvious short-comings.

Sen. Obama had an immediate appeal for three distinct reasons: he was running against Hillary Clinton; he presents a large, grand vision of "change;" He's dignified - don't underestimate this one after sixteen years of shameless Clintonism and W. Bush incompetence. 

What he lacks though, is personal charisma, political achievement, or really any qualifications for the job of the Presidency. When standing across from Hillary or in front of ten-thousand people, Barack Obama is appealing, even to some conservatives. He elegantly contrasts with the seedy, petty, nasty partisanship of the post-Kennedy era that defines the lives of most of the media and electorate. However, that image of him only holds when viewed from a distance and that is what Joe Biden does for Barack Obama.

When viewed up close, Obama is an old school hyper-liberal. He is way of the left of America on issues like gay marriage and abortion, supports the kind of massive socialist programs that Bill Clinton had supposedly excised from the democratic party, and is as partisan as anyone. Obama is largely politically indistinguishable from the divisive Nancy Pelosi or Ted Kennedy and has even less political experience or achievement than George W. Bush did when he ran for president. He is considered, by many, to be personally aloof, arrogant, and testy when pressured.

Joe Biden will be sold to America as a Cheneyesque figure that brings needed experience into an Obama White House, alleviating Obama's one real weakness. That isn't true. In truth, Biden will be a bait and switch of sorts. He will do much of the retail politicking that Obama isn't good at, some of the attacking that Obama wants to avoid, but mostly he will keep America at arms length from Obama. Biden is very media friendly. He is quotable, charismatic, energetic, well-reasoned, detailed, and occasionally clumsy - all things that allow Barack Obama to avoid any serious scrutiny.

Whenever anyone tries to investigate Obama's vacuous  yet grandiose vision of fluffy change, they will be met instead with the meat and potatoes of Joe Biden. Biden will shake your hand, look you in the eye, and point to Obama on a podium or a magazine cover and assure you that he is ready. America will be charmed by, distracted by, and reassured by Joe Biden and they will elect Barack Obama. Something that seemed much less likely when the focus was on Obama himself which is exactly why he hasn't been able to pull away from John McCain.

Sen. Biden is a magic trick, a bit of distraction from the real candidate, but a tactically outstanding choice for Vice President. Kudos to you Sen. Obama for your shrewdness but shame on you for proving that you are no different from the Clinton, Bush, or Karl Rove. Your just what I thought you were.

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