"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


the least complicated

Sigh. I'm still trying to figure out the rationale for announcing your v-p pick at 3am on a Saturday morning during the Olympics via text message, when all the top journalists are asleep. Maybe it was a bit of a retort to Hillary's 3am ad that was so successful in the primaries. Whatever. Delaware Senator Joe Biden is Obama's running mate.

My distaste for Joe Biden knows no bounds. He is, in the words of one Democratic activist, "a ridiculous, overbearing blowhard." And his Yankee accent and northeastern liberalism aren't going to bring many disaffected conservative Southerners over to Obama's side. He knows his stuff, but he also can't shut up. Many, many years ago, when I was a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations intern and Jim Jeffords defected from the Republican party, Biden became committee chair. I swear the hearings doubled in length.

Obama's making a gamble with this. Delaware was already on his side, and this veep pick has no chance of bringing in an extra state, though he might help with Pennsylvania. Picking another northeastern liberal rather than a Southerner with some conservative credentials is a risky, risky move. And McCain's already got a doozy of an ad up, pointing out that Biden was pretty critical of Obama during the primaries.

I tell my students that this year should be a perfect storm for the D's. The economy's tanked, the war is unpopular, and everyone's just waiting for W to go back to Dallas (What, you think that ranch will stay in the family after its political purposes are spent?). But I also teach them to never underestimate the Democratic party's capacity to screw things up. If Obama loses this election, it will likely be because Biden says something so noxious and offensive on the campaign trail that the voters think twice. I know this choice has made me do so.


Blogger UPennBen said...

Actually, I think the 3 am text was pretty brilliant, but only because the Obama camp is extremely tightknit. Sure, there was rampant speculation that it would be McCain, but they were able to dominate the news cycle for most of the week.

It was an F-you to the mainstream media by releasing it in the madrugada, but at the same time they're not going after him because it looks semi-populist and they've been chomping at the bit all week to announce his choice. Even though Saturday is a dead day, it's still dominating the news.

I'm not sure whether or not Biden is a good choice, but I don't think the GOP ad will stick. Reagan won with Bush, even though ads showed Bush talk about Reagan's voodoo economics. Biden's answer to the ads is, "Yeah, I said that, and now that I'm here, he's got someone to turn to for advice."

Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:26:00 AM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

Now, if McCain will just listen to the 'conservative' instead of the 'moderate' RINO's in his choice, even college professors might vote Republican. You think?
I can dream can't I.
Charlie Mac

Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:17:00 PM

Blogger David McCullars said...

TiA, this was an unusual post for you. I have to admit my familiarity with Biden is limited to a handful of interviews and a couple of debates, so I'm certain there's more to your beef then simply his tendency to talk too much. I will say this, though; I can respect a Presidential nominee who picks his VP based on who he/she thinks is the best suited for the job (especially given the weakness of that presidential candidate) rather than simply selecting someone to secure a state or two in the electoral college. I don't know if Biden is really that person or not, but I don't think complaining about his lack of pulling another state is a legitimate criticism. Can you elaborate on your policy issues with Biden?

Saturday, August 23, 2008 1:01:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Oh, my beef with Biden is personal. I just think he's obnoxious. On policy, he's a little more liberal than me, but not much. He did vote to authorize the Iraq war.

Every nominee picks his veep based on political considerations. I don't believe for a minute that the Obama campaign didn't do the same. There's already stuff appearing about his ability to galvanize voters in southeastern Pennsylvania, and his appeal among older voters in places like Florida.

Saturday, August 23, 2008 2:18:00 PM

Blogger David McCullars said...

Oh, I have no doubt the Obama campaign chose him primarily (or perhaps entirely) for strategic reasons rather than idealistic. But it seems odd and sad that we the people have become so far long in our cynicism that our primary criticism of a candidate is not who they are and what they stand for but instead what states they can (or can't) bring.

Saturday, August 23, 2008 5:09:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Hey, Ben, so a friend tells me that the text was supposed to be later but they had to do it at 3 because of the leaks that came out just before midnight.

It's dominating the news, yes, but I'd bet most people are watching Olympics or enjoying the end of summer, not watching the news.

David, it's just a symptom of the larger problem of our electoral politics, no?

Saturday, August 23, 2008 10:05:00 PM

Blogger UPennBen said...

I don't think people really pay attention until October anyway.

Saturday, August 23, 2008 10:09:00 PM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

The real problem as I see it is that far far too many voters never (nor will they) ever pay attention. They just pull the lever for their party. Thus the saying, "Party Time!" For these dreaming voters is always 5 o'clock somewhere.
Charlie Mac

Sunday, August 24, 2008 5:09:00 PM


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