Why Biden?

August 24, 2008

Like so many others who signed onto Obama’s “Be the first to know” text message gimmick with regards to who he was picking to be his running mate, I received my alert about 5 hrs after the media confirmed that Joe Biden was the guy (the message came via twitter and was timestamped 4:24 AM CST; the other text message I never received, so I’m not sure what I did wrong there).  I was pretty disappointed, and I think it had less to do with the fact that it was a waste of time, and more to do with how it reflects on how Obama was managing his campaign, and what that might mean about he would handle his presidency.  ‘Cause lets face it, “Be the first to know” was a bit of a broken promise.  And for the record, I don’t think that the middle-of-the-night message was designed as a jab at Hillary (as many have opined and discussed) or to imply anything, rather, I imagine that it was timed that way to save as much face as possible, in light of the fact that CNN and others had pretty much let the cat out of the bag (a text message received after it was all over cable news networks on Saturday morning would have seemed pretty silly, no?).

In any case, Biden is the guy, and as an Obama supporter, I must say that I have some mixed feelings about this pick.  I have stated here in the Chamber my feeling that the best choice would have been Bill Richardson, but I’ve never voiced my opinion on anyone else on the short list (although now I’m not sure if Richardson was even on the list), so now that the pick has been made, I thought I’d post something about my initial reaction.  From where I sit, the selection of Biden as VP has pros and cons for both the campaign and the eventual presidency, so I’ll break it down here.


First, the oft-mentioned experience factor.  I see this from two points of view, in that the experience that the long-time Democrat Senator from Delaware brings to the table can have an effect both perceived (in the sense that voters are more comfortable electing Obama with the resume gap filled) and real (in the sense that Obama’s presidency will be shaped by the actual advise or influence that Biden wields).  I guess the question is which one overshadows the other.  Either way, I view this as a plus.

Second, as a no-nonsense character who is unafraid to speak his mind, Biden is a good choice for a candidate that promised to pick a VP that would  “challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy-making”.  I must admit that this is pretty comforting, considering that we’ve just been subjected to 8 years of governance from people who placed loyalty above competence.


I’ve long stated that I wasn’t going to favor a candidate that voted in favor of the 2002 Iraq AUMF.  Biden did, and later ran his own campaign for the presidency that included an Iraq policy that was more in line with what Republican Senator Sam Brownback was proposing, namely, partitioning Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurd regions.   This was a position that, as Allah at Hot Air reminds us, even the Iraqis are vehemently against.

Also, Biden has a history of saying some really stupid things, which explains why blog after blog on the right are overjoyed, as they’re anxious for the next opportunity to highlight his next gaffe.  In fact, the front page of the RNC’s website features a “gaffe clock“, counting down the time until his next one.  If Biden takes on the role of a loose cannon, it could really be a turnoff to those who might otherwise be inclined to support the ticket, and can be a major distraction when they’re trying to get the message out.

Up For Grabs

The role of “attack dog”.  Traditionally, one of the benefits of a VP was the ability to deflect partisan criticism away from the president and allow him to remain above the fray.  When Obama launched his campaign and announced his bid for the presidency, he promised a “new kind of politics”, and one could make the argument that the addition of a fire-in-the-belly persona like Biden would undermine that.  On the other hand, as this campaign slides into the sewer of attack ads and personality wars, Biden could be the perfect countermeasure (something that Richardson wouldn’t have been as effective at), and provide Obama the ability rise above it.   The deciding factor might come down to the aforementioned gaffes, and a nightmare scenario might be one where Obama is called upon to disavow something that Biden has said (and don’t be surprised to see those calls come early, often, and for just about anything).

Also, the Biden pick could be seen by those Clinton supporters as a slap in the face, further disrupt party unity, increase recruitment of the PUMA mindset, and eventually lead to disaster in November.  Indeed, the McCain camp sees a light at the end of this tunnel, and has already begun to exploit it with a recent ad painting Clinton as “passed over”.  Will people fall for this?  Does Biden represent the “risky” choice, and Clinton the “safe” one?  Just how fractured is the party?  Time will tell, I suppose.

This is going to be one heck of a home stretch.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Update: It would appear that I was right about the text message: CNN forces Obama to release VP pick early

“Had a certain network not blown our cover at a certain time the text message would have gone out in the morning, 8 a.m. Eastern,” Robert Gibbs, a senior advisor, said with a grin on Sunday. “We told people they would find out from us. When we decided it was going to get out we decided to send the text out.”

Gibbs said he believes despite the fact that the rollout plan had to be altered, a “vast majority of the people” still learned by text message when they woke up in the morning.



  1. Biden definitely was an interesting choice. Their is something about the “Gaffe Clock” that I find funny. (though not really an appropriate thing for the political party’s head to create, it would probably be better if some talk show host created it). I think that Biden’s experience is both a Pro and a Con for someone who needs the experience, but is running a campaign that has benefited from Obama’s inexperience as he can claim that he has no part in Washington’s politics. Also, he cannot attack McCain for being a Washington insider.

    The worst thing about Biden is some of the negative comments that have passed between Obama and Biden, like “It’s a well intended notion he has, but it’s a very naïve way of figuring out how you’re going to conduct foreign policy.”

    I think it was a good idea to pass over Clinton, she would have seriously hurt both the “Change” message and the independant voter turn out for Obama. She would have been a political feeding frenzy among conservatives (myself included) with events from the past.

    My view of Biden.

    P.S. My link on the Political Alliance doesn’t take you to a page, can you fix it?

  2. solar1-

    P.S. My link on the Political Alliance doesn’t take you to a page, can you fix it?

    oops! – Fixed

  3. Thanks

  4. […] Why Biden? « ChenZhen’s Chamber […]

  5. I’m pleased with the Biden choice. Over on Dailykos many are chanting:

    “ONE HOUSE/ONE SPOUSE” as the new mantra for Barack’s campaign! Love it.

    About the text message being received hours later. I bet the Obama camp realized that the text-message is instant, so because there is a 3 hour difference between the West coast and the East coast, it probably screwed everything up. Or it took hours for all those text-messages to be delivered. Not sure how the whole thing worked, but I wouldn’t stock the incident up as him not running his campaign well.

    I thought Biden summed up McCain well on Saturday. You live, you learn, and it appears Biden has when it comes to Johnny. 😉

  6. “Jimmy Carter was a man of decency and a man of principle, but it wasn’t enough. That’s the first time I realized that on-the-job training for a president can be a dangerous thing.”

    Joe Biden. OJT and Obama are synonymous.
    I actually endorsed Biden for D president so I think the selection was a sound one,as sound as it would have been for the dems to pick him for P.

  7. Biden? Well, of course! After all, he received 9,000 votes in the primaries before withdrawing. Compared to the paltry 18,000,000 (that’s million, btw) some lowly woman and NY Senator received.

    Comrade Chen, can you smell the dissonance? Smells like defeat. I love the smell of Democrat defeat in the mourning.

    But at least Biden should pull in those all important THREE electoral votes from Delaware.

  8. Those who are slightly miffed about not receiving their “special” message crack me up. Come on, rubes, this election is way past your little grass roots stage. The whole outside politics, “time for a change” motif is… uh…a little yesterday’s news considering Obama picked a hawkish, Iraq War supporting, 120 year senator. You’ve been had. As the song goes, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” Now go drink a shot of cynicism and see Dr. Dead Rabbit in the morning.

  9. rabbit-

    I’m kinda curious on your opinion as to which running mate would have fit the “time for a change” motif.

  10. Chen, please don’t make me post arguments in the affirmative. Cynics like me are cynics because we are ultimately kind of intellectually empty. I have no clue who Obama could have picked and still be able to keep his higher then thou image going.

    Like Churchill said (I think) “Democracy is the worst political system in the world, except for all the rest”. In other words, Obama’s promise to win the election while remaining outside the fray of politics as normal was complete and utter nonsense. That being said, I think Richardson, Schweitzer, Warner or that dude from Tennessee, Ford, would have been refreshing, “clean” picks.

    I read that Obama is going to give his speech from a faux ancient Greek temple. What the hell is he thinking? Maybe he will walk down like Robespierre did at the climax of the French Revolution sporting a toga and replacing Christianity with the “Goddess of Reason.” It’s so ironic that the party for the common man never fails to leave the common man’s jaw dropped with bewilderment.

  11. […] does anything in the way of effectively running the country?  Say what you want about Biden (I have), but with Obama’s pick, at least one can say that there was more attention placed on the […]

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