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Stanley Kurtz: Obama was COB for Ayers organization | Main | Top Headline Comments 08-19-08
August 19, 2008


There is a lot of buzz this morning that Obama is going to pick Delaware Senator Joseph Biden to be his VP running mate.

In fact, Biden currently leads the named field on the unscientific "Drudge Report" poll for potential selections, trailing only some unspecified "wild card" candidate.

Now, aside from Joe Biden himself, is there anyone that thinks that Biden brings much of anything to this ticket? Aside from hair-plugs and an over-inflated sense of self-worth, that is. Oh, and possibly a dog-eared copy of Neil Kinnock's autobiography.

It isn't like Delaware is going to be in play. And Biden has limited to no appeal to , well, anyone who isn't a booking agent for Meet the Press. He strikes most folks who live outside the beltway (and more than will admit it who live inside of the beltway) as someone who has built a political career by merging the hucksterism of his used car salesman father with the charisma of publicity seeking, shinola spewing trial lawyer. Worst yet, the man is 65 years old, and has served in the United States Senate since he was 30.

Why selecting a creature of the Senate who has spent his entire adult life in the world's most exclusive club just exudes "hopenchanginess" doesn't it? So why pick him?

Conventional wisdom holds that Obama is perceived as weak on foreign affairs and international issues. Biden, by virtue of his time spent on the Senate Foreign relations Committee, and his high profile "fact finding missions" to places like Georgia, would seem to fill that gap in Obama's resume and narrow McCain's advantage on that set of issues. Conventional wisdom also seems to think Biden would temper the impact of that "3 AM" question with regard to handling national security.


I think that's arguable. Biden is essentially a buffoon. He's quick on his feet. He's slick. He can put on a good dog and pony show. But if the answer to "who you gonna call" is "Joe Biden" you may be asking the wrong question. The truth is that a guy like Sam Nunn has pieces of guys like Joe Biden in his foreign policy stool.

So why pick Biden, then?

Let's float an idea here. Barack Obama has a real problem. The more people are exposed to Barack Obama, the better his opponent looks. Truthfully, it's his fundamental weakness.

John Breaux used to say that "in order to get people to vote for you, you gotta get people to like ya." Obama is completely unlikable. Aloof, arrogant, humorless, phony, and so enamored with being Barack that people have no trouble associating him with the leadership of a creepy cult of personality.

So, if you were Obama and were desperate to get the attention off of you, a guy like Biden makes sense. Biden is, like Chuck Schumer, genetically incapable of staying out of the spotlight. Biden would be, essentially, the grandest of all diversions: a VP nominee who can generate as much light as the nominee.

Consider it like a magician using smoke in one hand to hide what he's doing with the other. And Biden is pretty good at blowing smoke.

The other names being bandied about (Kaine, Bayh, Sibelius, etc) don't generate heat. They lack any semblance of charisma. They are room temperature stiffs for a guy desperately needing to shift attention off of himself for awhile. The only other name being bandied about that would generate heat (Clinton) isn't gonna happen.

Biden has one other "advantage". I was gonna put it in another post, but I'll throw it in here instead. After years of vilifying Dick "Night of the Rampaging Cougar-Man" Cheney, Obama could very easily bring the crowd at Invesco field to spontaneous orgasm by saying something like this (assuming the teleprompter was working):

"Comrades (heh), this is an election about hope and change. No longer will the established forces of insider cronyism be pulling the strings in Washington DC. No longer will the Dick Cheney's of the world be given free reign to implement the policy agenda of their Corporate masters under the presumed authority of ther highest office in the land. Where others fail to lead, I will. I announce that if elected, I will eliminate, for all practical purposes, the Office of the Vice President. He will continue to serve his constitutionally mandates role as President of the Senate and he will continue to enjoy the traditional accoutrements of that office. But there will be no 'shadow administration' in an Obama White House like there is in the Bush/McCain White House. His staff, his office space, the funding for that office, all gone. Instead, my Vice President will also serve as Secretary of State. He will be accountable to me. But most of all you need not fear that the resources available to the office of the Vice Presidency will be used to enrich the oil companies...blah, blah blah..."

You know damn well some "true conservatives" (cough Andrew Sullivan/Obamacan Lincoln Chafee) would get featured op-eds in the New York Times the next day talking about how Obama was the first truly conservative government reformer (eliminating excess bureaucracy! Combining efficiencies! Downsizing government!) since, oh, I dunno, that other great "conservative" reformer LBJ.

I kid. But not really. Biden would clearly love to be Sec of State. Slapping Cheney around excites Democrats. The office of the Vice Presidency is pretty useless (until it isn't), and really doesn't need all the resources allocated to it.

Will this happen? I dunno. I think Biden would end up being a horrible pick for Obama, so I hope he chooses him.

But it would give Obama the potential for more buzz than you might first expect. It would be a stunt that he couldn't credibly pull off with most of the other names mentioned. And the nutroots would explode with love and money, but mainly money because they really are a fever swamp of hateful bastards.

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posted by Jack M. at 10:54 AM

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