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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Democratic VP Speculation: Why Not Joe Biden?

Category: Barack Obama
Posted: 07/29/08 13:34, Edited: 07/29/08 23:29

by Dave Mindeman

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has been moved to the media's short list as Obama's choice for Vice President. The Washington Post has an article that delves into the speculation.

Kaine would seem to be a good choice for electoral politics -- Virginia could be in play, but Governor Kaine doesn't improve on any of Obama's perceived weaknesses -- namely, experience and foreign policy.

The Post article seems to center on Kaine, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware...with lesser mentions of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

Senator Hillary Clinton gets an obligatory mention, but it is becoming clear that neither Obama or Sen. Clinton see that happening.

The emphasis on Kaine, Bayh, and Biden seems to be warranted. There is nothing inherently bad about the rest of the names, but they all have inherent weaknesses or baggage that will not help with Obama's quest.

Gov. Kaine gets high marks for his youth, loyalty to Obama, and his high standing in Virginia, but Obama needs a little more than that. Senator Bayh is often lauded for his bipartisan nature and his work on foreign policy. He is well liked and has a very affable manner. And his state of Indiana has long been a Republican stronghold, although Obama has made serious headway this year.

Kaine and Bayh would be good choices but still not just right.

Then there is Joe Biden. Biden has a certain amount of baggage which has been vetted over the years -- his behavior in the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy is still a sore spot with feminist women.

But you have to remember the job of the Vice Presidential candidate. He or she has to take on the harsher tone for the campaign. The VP candidate is the "attack dog".... the person who makes the accusations and questions the other side's record.

The VP candidate also has an official debate. You probably remember the Lieberman/Cheney and Edwards/Cheney debates. The Democrats underestimated Cheney in both encounters giving George Bush a bit of a boost when he most needed it.

Joe Biden distinguished himself in the Presidential debates this year. He also proved that he can deliver a clever, yet meaningful attack on opponents. His dismissal of Giuliani with "all he has is a noun, verb, and 9/11" is still repeated today.

And Biden is a respected voice on foreign policy. He has expertise on the strategic global objectives of the US that few in the Senate have. That would be an excellent addition to an Obama candidacy.

All of the names mentioned in the article are certainly fine choices. The pluses and minuses can be, and will be, debated until the choice is named. But, if you had to center on one person right now, I think Senator Joe Biden is the guy.

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