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August 23, 2008

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In fact, of course, choosing Biden demonstrates self-confidence. Only someone who is confident picks someone who will generate comments about self-confidence, and who will challenge him, as Obama said he was doing. Biden was very impressive in the Iowa campaign. He appeals to precisely those demographics where Obama is weak. This campaign is not about moving people from McCain to Obama but just moving them from undecided to Obama and this picks help that a lot. And it is an excellent governing pick as well. The pick also demonstrates that Obama understood who the best pick was, politically and governmentally, and picked him, even though he probably preferred either Kaine or Sebelius on a personal level. That is what presidents should do and makes a nice contrast with the current president.

"A second potential criticism is that Biden isn’t all that exciting and won’t provide a bump."

I think the expectation of "exciting" veep picks was overblown. This translated more as "exciting to me and a small percentage of others, infuriating to a like percentage, and not moving many votes otherwise." Veep is one of those things where you can have an awful choice that just might cost votes (Hillary; a Quayle-like choice that says "I'm not confident"), but the idea that someone is so exciting that they will lift the ticket to dizzying new heights--the party's consensus candidate is already heading the ticket.

The first criticism — echoed already by the great visionary Ron Fournier — is that Obama’s pick shows a lack of “self-confidence.”

Gee, Pub., Ron is just keeping up the fight.

I'm happy enough. There were no really killer choices. Biden is a very good one.

I think this is the best pick he could have made.

I'm psyched about hilzoy joining WM as well. Carpetbagger and Obsidian were two of my most-reviewed blogs, where I expected some of the most insightful analyses.

However, Steve Benen posts 8-15 times a day, while hilzoy usually does a long, thoughtful post about every two days. The balance is going to be very strange.

I think hilzoy should preface every post she writes with the words: "Hi! It's me! It's me, Hilzoy!"

I am really looking forward to Biden as campaigner, and I have confidence in Biden as Vice President. Good choice.

Last night, about midnight, I was starting to think that maybe Obama really was planning the coolest campaign stunt ever: ringing a couple of million phones at 3:00AM with the message 'It's Hillary'. Then, I took a last look around the blogosphere before going to bed, and saw the Biden story first at ThinkProgress. Turn on the TV, and sure enough MSNBC is running with it. And part of the discussion is about the text message roll-out having been scooped, and wouldn't Obama supporters feel cheated?

Now, I'm almost as clueless about this texting thing as John McCain is about the internet, so I have a practical question: how exactly do you synchronize the sending of a couple of million text messages? I mean, was it not always a sure thing that the cable news shows, at least, would get the story on the air before the second million phones rang?

-- TP

When reading this paragraph by Fournier, I couldn't help thinking about the drafts on his hard drive for each of the options mentioned, explaining why choosing Kaine or Clinton or whoever else Obama could possibly choose indicates weakness:

He picked a 35-year veteran of the Senate — the ultimate insider — rather than a candidate from outside Washington, such as Govs. Tim Kaine of Virginia or Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas; or from outside his party, such as Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; or from outside the mostly white male club of vice presidential candidates. Hillary Rodham Clinton didn't even make his short list.

The McCain ad with Biden praising McCain might not work out so well. It opens up a perfect opportunity for Biden to amplify the theme that 2008 McCain has abandoned every position that McCain Classic, the supposedly principled supposed maverick, ever held.

That's a dangerous narrative if the media decide to pick up on it, and there is some indication that their love affair with McCain is wearing thin lately. Time for another barbecue!

So, is anyone else out there hoping that Obama has some sort of post-GOP convention, kung-fu election strategery to put McCain out of his misery? (Oh noes! the age card!) 'Cause, as much fun as WW III IV WHATEVER with Russia, North Korea, China, and Canada (just for sh!ts and giggles) would be under President St. John of the Holy POW, I would prefer, at least for my 401k's sake, President BOSHAMO-X, thank you very much, and it seems that things have gotten a wee bit too tight lately.

The McCain ad with Biden praising McCain might not work out so well. It opens up a perfect opportunity for Biden to amplify the theme that 2008 McCain has abandoned every position that McCain Classic, the supposedly principled supposed maverick, ever held.

Me hopes so.

i'm a-hopin BOSHAMO-X has some tricks up his sleeve. cause up until Thursday, at least, St BBQ's had the McMentum workin for him.

So, is anyone else out there hoping that Obama has some sort of post-GOP convention, kung-fu election strategery to put McCain out of his misery? (Oh noes! the age card!) 'Cause, as much fun as WW III IV WHATEVER with Russia, North Korea, China, and Canada (just for sh!ts and giggles) would be under President St. John of the Holy POW, I would prefer, at least for my 401k's sake, President BOSHAMO-X, thank you very much, and it seems that things have gotten a wee bit too tight lately.

I strongly suggest you cast your absentee ballot and then have yourself put under heavy sedation until mid-November, then. This is going to be a nail-biter, probably all coming down to CO in the end.

I sure hope it doesn't come down to NM, because the counting of ballots here has evolved into a highly sophisticated form of post-modern performance art with noticeable Samuel Beckett overtones. The last several performances with Heather Wilson in the starring role were really pretty epic. I can only imagine what we might be able to conjure up with a captive national and international audience.

the counting of ballots here has evolved into a highly sophisticated form of post-modern performance art...

Hey, I kinda like performance art...

I'm somewhat ambivalent about Biden (other than Hillary, though, none of the VPs would be something to write home about), but I have a naive faith that the Obama team knows what they're doing. Even if he disappoints on things like FISA, the man knows how to run his operation.

I like Publius' analysis of Biden as a governing choice and I think that's the key reason he was picked. Obama is trying to win this election on the merits (whether that's foolish or not...) and although Biden won't hurt, his major asset is his experience and qualifications. YMMV, of course.

The first criticism — echoed already by the great visionary Ron Fournier — is that Obama’s pick shows a lack of “self-confidence.

This is funny!
Correct me if I´m wrong but I seem to remember that the US media back in 1999/2000 really liked Bush-Cheney.

As in, Bush (former Texas governor) was showing that he felt secure enough to choose an old Washington insider as Vice President. Proof of his self-confidence and all that. No reason to worry.

Do American reporters only have a working short-term memory capacity? Sort of like "RAM", gets deleted when they sleep?

Thought I was right about 2000.
For more information, Balloon Juice.

Bookmark this post, folks. This is the only time you will ever see Biden's name followed by an exclamation mark.

Wait, Joe Biden isn't a former P.O.W.?

I am very offended.

Well, he is a former Pennsylvanian, which is practically the same thing.

Gary,

I'm confident that at least one opponent at some point in the past has referred to Joe Biden as a "Piece Of Work"!

Or is that not what you meant?

Also, am I the only one who is thinking that the phrase "Go Biden yourself!" just isn't going to have the same zing, as it did with Cheney?

hey ThatLeftTurnInABQ...as a fellow albuquerque-ian I'd always thought Obama needed and older white guy on the ticket to buck up the 'he's a little two young, a little too black'crowd. Biden satifies that group.

"A second potential criticism is that Biden isn’t all that exciting and won’t provide a bump."

You mean as exciting as Joe Lieberman and John Edwards were? Chet Edwards? Evan Bayh? Tim Kaine? Bill Richardson?

I can't imagine any of those fellows -- or anyone else other than Barack Obama perhaps -- giving the kind of speech, and on short notice (he was told he was the guy on Thursday), that Biden gave today in Springfield.

Obama's speeches are more visionary, he being a classic orator. Biden gives an old-fashioned stem-winder. The two complement each other nicely.

In fact, that's what Biden does to the ticket: Balances it out in just about every possible way.

I agree with Judson. Biden should give those Democrats who thought Obama was "too black" or "too young" or "too elite" or "too inexperienced" or even "too nice" just what they were looking for.

Already, Biden took a few shots at McCain in his speech today -- but didn't seem mean-spirited about it.

It says something about Obama's intellectual curiosity -- has anyone ever put those two words together referring to George W. Bush? -- and self-confidence that he did not select a "yes" man. I can't see Biden not giving an honest answer -- one Obama might not want to here -- when he seeks Mr. Biden's counsel.

Biden will play well in battleground states Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, where Biden's life story and Everyman appeal will play well.

Obama was having trouble with Dems and Independents 65 and over -- Biden should shore up that crowd, too.

I heard a pundit on TV who said Vladimir Putin probably played a key role in Biden's emergence as Obama's running mate after the Russian prime minister green-lighted his country's recent invasion of Georgia. Sounds plausible.

But who cares?

Unlike Lieberman and Edwards, Biden won't put voters to sleep on the campaign trail and he will be a true asset, in this country and abroad, when Obama occupies the White House.

David Roberts at GristMill has a good compilation of resources on Biden.

Also: Noam Scheiber has a book excerpt that's worth reading, and that I really like:

"Joe found it one night, a couple of years after he became a Senator. He was driving around, like he did back then. He was snooping around Greenville, streets of his dreams, when he saw it, all overgrown, boarded up. Some developer was going to knock it down because the four and a half acres were worth more than the house. ...

Joe did a $200,000 deal for the house. That was more than he had, of course. But Biden never let money stand in the way of a deal. He got in the developer's face and started talking--fast. ...

Anyway, when he moved in, he started finding out about the place. First winter, first three months, he used three thousand gallons of fuel oil. The top of the house was wide open. Squirrels were living on the third floor. So the second year, he had to get storm windows for the whole place. Of course, he didn't have the money, so he had to sell off a couple of lots. He lived in fear that the place would need a new $30,000 slate roof. Meanwhile, the place was chock full of asbestos. He had to hire a guy to clean that out, but the guy wanted too much money for labor. So there were weeks when Joe was down in the basement, in a moon suit, ripping out asbestos."

I thought he was a good choice this morning. But he's growing on me.

"I thought he was a good choice. But he's growing on me."

I don't regret my support of Clinton in the primaries. But I must admit, I always wondered if there was something wrong with me -- or what I was missing -- when I didn't get swept up in Obamamania.

I know he gives a great speech me, but they never really inspired. But this pick does.

Happy to be firmly on the Obama bandwagon at last. I imagine many Hillary supporters feel this way.

bedtime: if you haven't read Dreams from my Father, I really, really, really recommend it. I would recommend it even if Obama weren't running for President: it's that good. But as insight into how he thinks, a book written back in the -- early? mid? 90s, by an incredibly gifted and self-aware and assured writer, cannot be beat.

I first started to really like him when I learned that he had campaigned for the Senate in part on securing loose nukes. (I mean: how often do you get a serious policy wonk with serious political gifts?) But Dreams from my Father was what sealed the deal, for me.

hilzoy: My shrink (one of the smartest men I know -- half the time, we talk politics and football) said last summer that's how he caught the fever, too, and "insight into how he thinks" would be useful.

I don't think one can get that in a campaign speech.

Thanks.

"In fact, that's what Biden does to the ticket: Balances it out in just about every possible way."

I don't think that last phrase means what you think it means.

:-)

(Unless Biden is a non-Christian female homosexual Westerner who....)

"bedtime: if you haven't read Dreams from my Father, I really, really, really recommend it."

Absolutely. It's a fantastic read. Entertaining, insightful, and every chapter gave me something new and thoughtful to consider. Nothing to do with it being a book by someone who would turn out to go into politics. Just stuff about growing up with a white mother and black father, being a child in Indonesia, growing up in Hawaii, trying to find your identity, looking to come to terms with an absent father, and father-replacements, and so on and so forth.

It's just a great page-turner, wonderfully written, and I recommend it everyone and anyone.

That a guy that insightful and smart wanted to be a politician is just an astonishing bonus. He sure could have made it as a professional writer of about any kind.

"He sure could have made it as a professional writer of about any kind."

Yes, that is what struck my friend, Dr. Ogan -- the level of writing you describe.

I had been suspect of this book in that -- as with biographies and such about living sports figures -- politicians now seem to think it's necessary to write a book to "sell" their story as a sort of validation. But, as you and hilzoy note, Obama wrote this book long before he made politics a career.

Well of course that could be construed as:
Mother:She is after your money
Son:I don't got any
Mother:She's canny. She thinks you will have in the future
(quoted from memory from Little Shop of Horrors)
That uppity [n-word] had ambition since he was a baby, so he planned his bid for the presidency early. Iirc the same claim was made about his marriage.

bedtimeforbonzo: In fact, that's what Biden does to the ticket: Balances it out in just about every possible way.

By "every possible way" I assume you mean that he's white, he's male, he's married, he's against women having access to ID&X when they need one... and he's Catholic, to comfort those still convinced that Obama's a Muslim.

It's not really surprising: I expected Obama would pick a straight white grey-haired male VP - the kind of person who would be picked out of any photo catalogue as a suitable actor to play "Mr President" in any Hollywood movie where the President of the US gets a few minutes screentime to let people know how SRSLY the US government is reacting to the movie plot. In other words; not a black politician: not a woman: not someone too young or too handsome or too elderly or too ugly or disabled...

OTOH, that certainly left him plenty of options.

I really liked this post about Biden, which strikes some sympathetic points with me. This was written while Biden still was campaigning as a candidate in Iowa.

Later in the day, Biden addresses Teamsters at a union hall, and it's here where his traditional Democratic principles, his blue-collar Irishness, truly resonates. "This is not your father's fight," he intones. "They've convinced themselves that you don't even know what's best for your own members. They've drugged the Kool-Aid." More Orwell. And Yeats, too. "There would be no middle class in American without the union movement!"
...

Also watching is Dave O'Brien, a union organizer and Biden volunteer. O'Brien and his father worked for Biden back in '87, across the state in Sioux City...

Two years after Biden flamed out, O'Brien's father died. And Biden flew up to Sioux City for the funeral. Not the most direct of flights. And Biden wasn't running for anything.

"He didn't do it for political reasons," O'Brien says. "He did it because he knows about loss."

Later, back on the plane, Biden remembers the funeral. He had been avoiding Iowa. "They stuck with me when I was being called a lying no good so-and-so. How could I not? And I really did not want to go back to Sioux City."

Biden agrees with O'Brien's assessment about knowing loss - and he says that's why he remains loyal to a fault, to as many people as he can. "When you give up that principle...you're just yielding to selfishness. The people who got me through are the people who stayed loyal to me."

He returns, once again, to the bleak period after the accident, to the emptiness. "What you want to know," he says, plane engines humming, "is how do I survive this? I think you are blinded by your despair. It's kind of like you're getting sucked inside yourself into a black hole. Except what you really need sometimes, you just need to know someone else made it."

In that vein, for years Biden's neurosurgeons asked him to visit other patients to reassure them prior to surgery. "I didn't know them. I had never met them in my life," Biden says. "But you know when you have sort of a gift. The gift is you survived. You know if you give that to somebody, it makes you feel worthwhile. Because people did it for me."


"I think this year’s election is most like 1980 — voters have decided they don’t really like the “incumbent”, but they just need to get comfortable with the new guy."

I'm not sure 1980 is the analogy here as is 1976 for the simple reason that in both 1976 and 2008 Mr sub 30% approval rating is not on the ballot. In both years you had the Republican running effectively for a 3rd term and in both years, whether by luck or skill, you had the Republican party nominate arguably the most effective name that had the best chance of winning. Ford was perceived as clean after the Nixon scandals and 'maverick' McCain after the Bush years. Despite what should have been an easy win for Democrats in 1976 the race was actually close 51-48 that year. And remember that Ford had a very challenging run for the nomination from Ronald Reagan which had to help Carter, and i don't think McCain had quite as same rough ride and has consolidated his base better than I think many people may have expected.

While '3rd bush term' is a good slogan and one I think should be repeated, we shouldn't forget that Bush/Cheney names are not on the ballot when you get in the booth.

One word: AUMF.

Yes, to me it is unforgiveable and that is why I am truly disgusted by this choice, surprised that this is not regarded as more of an issue (or should I not be? is it all about getting 'our guy' in the WH no matter what? does Iraq not matter anymore?) and my (entirely irrelevant) support for Obama has given way to indifference (well, he's still the lesser evil, but that's about it).

This what Biden brings to the Democratic ticket:

“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”

As a union carpenter most of the complaints I have heard about Obama (and as a long time Obama supporter, I have heard quite a few)are very nebulous, like "I just don't know about the guy." How can they not know about the guy? He has been in the 24 hr news cycle loop for well over a year. But still they "just don't know..." Why?

Obama does not speak our language. But Biden does. The above quote is something every blue collar white guy gets, we understand EXACTLY what he is saying, and the feeling behind it.

The above quote may have been "impolitic" (he later apologized for saying "bullshit") but a few more "political gaffes" like that are JUST what Obama needs to win over the blue collar vote (or at least, a good part of it).

hey judson,

I meant to give you a shout last night. I was in the middle of writing the most insightful comment evah - which (if it had gone viral) would have straightened out US politics, solved hunger, poverty and war, cured cancer, eliminated bad hair days and given everyone the ability to remember the correct useage of it's and its in English sentances. I was just about to hit "post" when...

wwwrrrrrrrreeeeeevmmmmum

...the power went out.

Comment gone, never to return.

So for want of a UPS, we are all still stuck in this vale of tears.

Bummer.

Oh well...

Anyway, to a fellow neighbor, hi!

...the power went out."

that never happens in abq

But it never rains in California.

Novakant--I agree. I don't expect anything from Obama except that he be far better than McCain. Set one's standards low enough and you won't be disappointed. That's not meant to be a joke. I recently read "Nixonland" and really, about all I think we have the right to hope for in American politics is that we get someone in office who isn't despicable in more than three or four different ways.

Below is a link to someone else who doesn't like Biden. There's also Glenn Greenwald over at Salon, who says Biden is awful, but a good choice, apparently using reasoning similar to mine above. I'd link to that too, but when I try to do more than one link bad things happen.

One thing in the link below that is misleading is that it portrays Biden as favoring a three-way partition of Iraq, something he no longer favors according to something I read very recently. But it was a strange thing to push for at any time.

link

partition of Iraq, something [Biden] no longer favors

Or, at least, something he no longer wishes to give evidence of favoring. The partition plan is gone from his campaign website, and only traces of it are visible at his Senate page (per Raidar Visser; I wasn't interested enough to check for myself).

I haven't found where I read that Biden had dropped his partition idea. I think it was in the NYT today or yesterday. But while googling, I found the link below. The last couple of paragraphs are amusing in a dark sort of way. Foreign policy "experience" doesn't seem to have much to do with actual ability. It seems to mean that he's respected by what Greenwald calls the Serious People more than anything else. It was the highly inexperienced Obama that had enough sense to oppose the Iraq War on purely pragmatic grounds--for better or worse, it wasn't even because he dislikes military intervention by the US on general principle. It was the "experienced" types who often favored it.

On a totally different subject, I wonder if Biden's work on the bankruptcy bill would impress those working class voters who are supposed to find him appealing. But I don't expect Republicans to bring that up.


Anyway, the Link

Found the NYT article. Actually, it doesn't quite say what I remembered. It says that Biden has "refined" his plan, emphasizing that his main point is the need for a decentralized federal system in Iraq and that the partition idea has faded from public view. This is on page two of this Link

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