There are lots of places, including other posts on this blog, that will talk about the Biden choice for VP. I will only add three things to consider.

First, try to come up with an endorsement of one half of the democrat’s ticket that doesn’t undercut the other half. For example, ‘Judgement is more important than experience and Obama’s coming out against the Iraq war shows the judgement needed to be president’. I disagree with the argument, but I recognize the fact that some find it persuasive. Prior to Biden’s announcement, you could point to Obama’s flip flops on opposing, supporting and then opposing the war. You could also point to his lack of judgement on the surge and his inability to see American success even in 20/20 hindsight. In short, try to find more than one instance of supposedly superior judgement and then compare Obama’s track record to the stopped clock. Once is not a trend, especially when that once is questionable.

But now, take that same statement on judgement and consider it in light of the Biden selection. Why would Obama select someone whose judgement led him to vote for the AUMF and defend the decision after the invasion (and the limited WMD’s found). Either Obama’s judgement in opposing the war is questionable or his judgement in selecting his replacement if something happens to him is faulty in choosing someone who doesn’t show the judgement Obama thinks is his cornerstone.

Likewise, touting Biden’s 30+ years of experience and meeting with world leaders draws a strong and unfavorable contrast of the Obama-McCain match up in experience. Age, a new kind of politician, change, etc. all have contrasting sides of the coin where any attack against McCain on one hurts the other side of the democratic ticket. But that is a problem the democrats have brought on themselves.

Second, some people are touting this as the ‘safe’ choice. Given Biden’s past and propensity to talk himself into trouble, that may or may not be the case. But I think that the reality is that Biden may not wear so well and has almost no upside. The only upside I can see is that in 2004, 2000, 1988, 1984, and 1972 half the democrats ticket failed to carry their home state. When you can’t carry your home state, that says a lot about you as a person and as a politician. If nothing else, Biden can just about guarantee that whatever else happens the democrats won’t face that embarrassment again. Of course that also means that Biden isn’t pulling in a home state that otherwise would have gone to McCain.

But this ‘safe’ choice also means that except for Biden hurting Obama by putting his foot in his mouth, he is not likely to change anything. Between a Saturday morning cartoons announcement more suited to burying bad news than getting maximum exposure and the ‘safety’ of the pick, it is likely that any bounce may not even last until the convention starts on Sunday.

Third, the more interesting question to me is the opportunity this gives to McCain. If Obama had selected a game changing VP, that would have restricted McCain’s options in selecting his own VP. Mike Warner would have likely put Virginia in the democratic column. Clinton would have dramatically tilted the election. Richardson would have at least delivered New Mexico. But going with the ‘safe’ choice means that McCain has the full gamut of choices. He can go with a safe choice that does no harm. He can appeal to a particular state such as Colorado, Ohio or Virginia to keep it in the republican column. He can move to pick off a democratic state that is in play like Minnesota, Pennsylvania or Michigan. He can go after disaffected democrats with a Jacksonian national security oriented democrat, a qualified female or hispanic. How many women upset with Obama lying about Hillary being on anybody’s short list could be persuaded to take a second look at McCain with a famale VP selection.

In short, the convention timing forced Obama to go first and the happenstance of McCain’s birthday provides a hook for why he is selecting his VP at a time to help move the spotlight off the ending democratic convention and minimize any bounce. But it is Obama’s judgment in selecting Biden that opens up his flanks to an aggressive VP move by McCain.

2 Responses to “What Next After Biden?”


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