The choice of Senator Joe Biden seems to be well received by Democrats in general, and Hillary Clinton was quick to lend her support to the new ticket. It is a solid choice and one that addresses some of the perceived weaknesses in the Obama candidacy. Biden’s experience and credentials give the Democrats a ticket that balances vision and passion with purpose and stability. Latest polls have indicated slippage with Obama but Biden brings the toughness and the foreign-policy expertise to match Republican John McCain. In a word, gravitas.

Despite the general appreciation for the Biden selection, it was a conventional and safe choice by most standards. He is able to stand in as president should tragedy strike, brings potential electoral strength with Catholics and blue-collar workers, and can be helpful in some swing states like Pennsylvania. By choosing a more traditional type of running mate, it does say something about the presidential nominee. Obama may seem unconventional and his vision of change more emotive than concrete but with this choice, the Illinois senator shows a streak of realism to go with with idealism. With Biden, he will get the real deal and the ticket is stronger for that.

The Biden story will be heard in the days to come and it will impress. A man who has had his share of personal tragedy and adversity, a person of personal courage and tireless devotion to public service. Some Clinton supporters may feel slighted but we can expect her full support. The Democrats will unite behind this ticket and they should because it can win.

The impact on the McCain campaign is already being felt. A new attack ad showing Biden questioning Obama’s credentials is being aired. However, Biden’s debating skills, intelligence and his knowledge of national security matters will probably force McCain to make a conventional and safe choice of his own. Mitt Romney and Joe Leiberman come to mind. Already, we feel the McCain camp is very defensive about the choice. But today, it is Obama and Biden’s day and the Democratic ticket can once again use the next week to set the course for the next campaign.

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  1. If McCain picks Lieberman, he can write off his chance to become president. No way is he a ‘conventional and safe choice’.

    And are you saying Biden has gravitas? And a pro-choice Catholic is going to bring lots of Catholic votes? I would have to disagree with both of those assertions.

  2. jwl, my previous comment is awaiting moderation because of a link. But go to youtube and type in “Joe Biden Rips GOP On Iraq War Resolution”

    Some people agree with the words Biden and Gravitas.

  3. Blues Clair You say gravitas, I say been around for years and won’t go away.

    I like Biden’s idea of separating Iraq into 3 countries, I don’t think he mentioned that in the clip, but he was wrong about the surge not working and not being able to keep up troop levels. I also think he was brave to vote for the Iraq war when many in his party are against it.

    The main reason why I believe Biden doesn’t have gravitas is because he always talks before he thinks. How can a man have gravitas when he says things like:

    “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

    “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”

  4. Biden gives many things, including the perception of foreign policy heft.

    One thing he does not give is gravitas.

  5. And a pro-choice Catholic is going to bring lots of Catholic votes?

    Why Not? There are plenty of polls that show large pluralities (if not majorities) of Catholic voters are pro-Choice. Here’s one for instance.

    In that poll, only 18% of Catholic voters would ban abortion all together, 41% would allow it in some circumstances, and 38% would allow abortions for ANY REASON (in the first three months of pregnancy). And I know I’ve seen polls that have showed higher levels of support for abortion rights among Catholics than that.

    A pro-choice Catholic may not get much support from the Catholic Church, but Catholic voters are a whole other ball game.

    Also, it’s legitimate and worth pointing out Senator Biden’s previous verbal gaffs. To those I would only add, have you ever listened to John McCain? Hell, look at the guy who’s been elected President the last two terms!!! Saying stupid things occasionally is hardly a bar to being President, let alone Vice President. Based on the last eight years, it may even be a requirement now.

    Just to add some balance, here are some McCain quotes you may remember:

    There was: “You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.”

    And I particularly liked this one: “We have a lot of work to do. It’s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.” (think about it a sec if it doesn’t come to you…)

    Taken together, the second quote really makes one wonder about the first. If McCain wins and ever DOES decide to bomb Iran, do you suppose he’ll send the bombers anywhere near Iran?

  6. Wow, that’s some positive spin there.

    A touch of realism to go with his lofty idealism.

    Another way to interpret this, and I would suggest the factually accurate way (one in which emotive fawning doesn’t enter the equation),

    is that when Obama’s ACTIONS are measured against his rhetoric, there is precious legitimate to Obama’s purported idealism, and this latest selection is simply par for the course.

    He preaches bringing togetherness, yet plays identity politics like a fiddle.

    He waxes eloquent about bi-partisanship unity, yet his voting record is about as solidly partisan as one could find (unlike McCain who actually has a solid reputation in this regard),

    He speaks about bringing “change” yet his meager record shows he actually chooses inaction over bold initiatives (let alone the revolutionary type of stuff he speaks about),

    And here he appoints the consummate Washington insider, with a long track record of special interest pandering, all the while he preaches about taking on the old Washington establishment.

    Obama is remarkable in that there appears to be no major candidate in the history of the nation in which the disparity between his words and deeds are so marked on nearly every account.

    Empty suit is generous. Some would argue smooth talking snake oil salesmen is more accurate.

  7. Pomposity is not gravitas.

  8. “Obama is remarkable in that there appears to be no major candidate in the history of the nation in which the disparity between his words and deeds are so marked on nearly every account.”

    This history of the nation being, apparently, two weeks long.

  9. jwl, I’ll simplify it, you don’t like Biden because he is a Democrat. I’m not a big fan either… but he will be helpfull to Obama, as that clip shows (because yes, he is a pompuous blowhard). Nice Biden quotes, they are ugly indeed, I see you have read McCain’s campaign response, well done.

    And oh yes, the Surge, folks smarter then me call it a politcal band-aid. Cheers.

    “When it withdraws from Iraq, the United States will be leaving a country more divided than the one it invaded — thanks to a strategy that has systematically nourished domestic rivalries in order to maintain an illusory short-term stability.”
    – Steven Simon
    Foreign Affairs, May/June 2008

  10. there appears to be no major candidate in the history of the nation in which the disparity between his words and deeds are so marked on nearly every account

    Kody seems to have conveniently forgotten the entire 2000 Bush Presidential campaign.

  11. Lord KO,

    Bush actually ran a state. He had executive experience. Significantly so. He was a fighter pilot and a business man. More importantly I don’t recall Bush talking about being the “one” about stopping the rise of oceans, ect.

    Conversely Obama has a meager record, in which he has no notable accomplishments. No major laws passed under his sponsorship in the senate. The most votes of “present” in the Illinois legislature of any major politician. He even gained the unprecedented notoriety of failing to publish a single piece of work as the editor of his law journal.

    His most vaunted accomplishment (if one could call it that) is his inner city development as a community organizer, which not only did not result in anything but a failed slum, it enriched the likes of Rezko.

    Simply put, he’s accomplished nothing (except convincing people he’s good at everything, in order to get elected).

    Remarkable really.

    Perhaps you’re confused with the liberal media fawning with actual accomplishment.

    He’s terrified of debating (away from a teleprompter and strict control of the subject) because he literally has no substance. The quasi debate this past week (which really wasn’t a debate) was a great example. He was left accusing McCain of knowing the questions ahead of time as the pathetic excuse of McCain (who has an abundant record of accomplishment to back up his words and from which to draw on in debates) of totally outclassing him.

  12. kody, you stray:

    “Bush actually ran a state. He had executive experience. Significantly so. He was a fighter pilot and a business man.”

    The governorship of Texas is a largely ceremonial position; the real governing is done by the lieutenant governor. Bush’s main task was to pardon people (or not).

    He had executive experience in that a number of oil companies appointed him to their boards to get access to the Bush family influence. He was not involved in running any of those businesses, and his own start-up (funded by family money) was a complete failure.

    He was a regular absentee as a reserve fighter pilot – during the Vietnam war.

    Can’t believe you think this constitutes “experience.”

  13. Aside from your innacuracies,

    you just can’t let go of the fact that Bush (the left’s boogyman for the last eight years) is not running in this election. Obama’s running against McCain. McCain’s legislative record (a politically courageous one at that) is well known.

    Care to cite Obama’s accomplishments?

    I’ll make it easy for you: care to cite a single major accomplishment of Obama while in office. Any office.


    Just one.

  14. Kody, you sink to the hilarious level of darkest satire when you try to hang Bush’s record like a flag.
    You forgot he was elected under fraudulent conditions, and then proceeded to bungle the American effort to track terrorists, possibly aiding the conditions that left the Twin Towers a steaming pile of rubbish. The body count started there — by terrorists — and he’s since, through foolish and dastardly decisions, expanded that carnage into a colossal pire.
    Defending Bush is either hilarious delusionment or frightening use of a brain.

  15. LKO Right now the Catholic vote is split 60/40 for McCain and I doubt very much Biden is going to bring anymore votes with him. Obama thinks Biden’s weak catholicism is going to help him in rural Pennsylvania but it’s not going to.

    I agree that Bush, McCain and Obama mis-speak all the time and that doesn’t bother me. I am amazed these guys can put together a coherent sentence sometimes because they must be dead tired already and the race is just beginning.

    However, Biden didn’t mis-speak in the quotes I pointed out. They are mildly racist and if a Repub candidate had said them there would have been a big brouhaha and they would have been made an outcast in the party. But in the Dem party they wine and dine the guy and say he has gravitas and consider him an elder statesman.

    Blues Clair I don’t care if candidates are Dem or Repub, I care about their ideas. I support small ‘c’ conservatives and view everyone else with suspicion so there are plenty of Repubs I don’t like either.

    The Steven Simon quote does not impress me at all. I would have to read the whole article to get an idea what Simon thinks but I would argue Saddam, a Sunni, did a pretty good job of ‘nourishing domestic rivalries’ all on his own by terrorizing the Shia and Kurds.

  16. This is quite possibly the least original thing I’ve seen on the MacLeans site in months.

    Thanks for the insight.

  17. I’m going to defend Biden on those quotes.

    I think the man is a bit of a buffoon, but come on, we all knew very well what Biden was saying when he was describing Barack Obama — he’s the first serious African American candidate for the presidency. He’s no Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton — this is a guy that white suburbanites can vote for and feel good about voting for. (The idea that mainstream voters would take people like Jackson or Sharpton seriously always was mildly insulting.)

    That’s what Biden meant, and it’s true. (If it stings that it’s true… well, that’s life.)

    The 7/11 thing was just Biden being Biden — he suffers from verbal diarrhea. He was just looking for a way to say that there are a lot of Indian-Americans in Delaware, and he stumbled.


    Again, though — Biden isn’t a racist, but the very last thing he brings to the ticket is gravitas. He’s mildly ridiculous.

    That said, he did give a pretty good speech yesterday… If I thought he could stay on script, I’d be worried.

    But I’m not — he is Joe Biden, after all. :p

  18. jwl, here is the Steven Simon article. But I’m sure you will still come away not impressed.

    Goerge W. Bush said it best when it comes to whether the Repulicans can be trusted with another 4 years at the Whitehouse.

    “There’s an old saying in Tennessee… I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee… that says, fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me… you can’t get fooled again.”
    – President Bush

  19. It’s nice to see Bush Derangement Syndrome alive and well here on this thread.

    Many writers have recently wondered what would happen to the Dems when the focal point of their collective enery – partisan hatred for Bush – was no longer alive.

    The answer increasingly appears to be simple reality denial – Bush will “live on” so to speak in every republican.

    It’s too bad for the Dems that the Republicans chose “the maverick” so named because of his willingness to buck party lines to do what is right for the country.

    Example after example abound, where conversely Obama’s empty promises in this regard are devoid of any factual underpinning. He has been, in every sense of the word, a classic liberal partisan playing it safely down party lines his whole career.

    This is why his numbers have sagged after the opening euphoria. They will continue to sag, as folks begin to actually examine what’s behind the rhetoric. With McCain people can see cold hard facts, actions, deeds with which to judge his record. Words without deeds sound nice but they wear off.

    Obama’s lofty words are wearing out fast, with no facts to back them up.

    McCain by a landslide.

  20. McCain’s cold hard facts and foreign policy realism, is indeed hard to deny.

    “One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit,'”
    -Senator John McCain
    5/29/06, New York Observer

  21. Wow, that one line negates the fact the McCain was nearly a lone voice at the outset in advocating a surge that ended up working and bringing stability and democracy to Iraq…..in a world of blind partisanship hatred of one’s political opponents where real facts don’t matter, that is.

  22. “bringing stability and democracy to Iraq”


  23. By “ehgads” I take it you mean: “after the reports of once dangerous neighborhoods coming to life, national reconciliation taking hold, and al Qaida in Iraq being routed, all due to the surge, I stopped listening and desperately clinged to the notion that it was still a precious ‘quagmire’ lest the United States be interpreted in any other way that as a force for eeeeevil, to placate my leftist thinking and rank canadian anti-americanism”

    Got it.

  24. kody I didn’t know people like you existed outside the White House anymore. Only in Canada!

  25. Kody you and I are boring. Back to Joe. It seems Joe Biden has somewhat of an impressive enviromental record. Here is what Friends of the Earth Action President Brent Blackwelder had to say about Joe Biden as Obama’s VP choice.

    “Combining somebody who believes that global warming is a priority and is ready with the foreign policy experience, you have a coherent and new direction, unlike what we’ve seen over the last eight years,”


    “Biden has a really strong environmental record,”
    – David Willett
    Sierra Club Spokesman

    I personally don’t really know much about Joe… but my American wife (who I desperately try to hide my “rank canadian anti-americanism” from) reminds me that I didn’t seem to like the guy during the Democratic Primary debates.

  26. o/t — Kody, were you once upon a time a virulently anti-Harper commenter trying to rally Dippers to vote for the Liberals? If so, what changed?

    If not, there was once a “Kody” commenting on Canadian political blogs who had really, really different views from yours.


    On topic: one way that Biden will definitely help — it’s almost universally acknowledged in American politics that he’s a good guy. (Even if he’s a windbag.)

    That matters.

  27. I too knew of the “kody”.

    We are not the same people, though there was a time when I was very much a “progressive” – years ago, before I left the leftist dogmatic university setting, and before I had become more aquainted with the real world and more the realization that leftist thought sounds very nice written in a book, but put into practice produces horrible results.

  28. I’m a former leftist too. (Edited the progressive mag at my undergrad school.)

    “Progressives” are good-hearted, well-intentioned people — who are unconscious of the harm they do.

    Such is life.

  29. Whereas rightwingers are quite conscious of the harm they do?

  30. Mr. Parisella is such a brilliant and well-informed analyst that I am not looking forward to the November election since it will be the end of this blog. Why not give him a permanent columnn on US politics in the magazine?

    I am presently reading the autobiography of Ted Sorensen who was JFK’s special councel. Mr. Parisella reminds me of him.

  31. Biden is a disappointing choice. Obama’s ‘change’ rhetoric certainly takes a beating with this pick. Obama was supposed to be ‘a different kind of politician’. Guess he’s just the same old kind, after all. I was willing to look past his lack of experience, lack of any concrete accomplishments, and his recent 180’s on issues ranging from public financing to NAFTA. He was inspiring and I wanted to believe he would bring change. But choosing Biden is the last nail in the proverbial coffin. Obama is no different than any other politician before. And so, combined with his other weaknesses, he doesn’t seem like such a great candidate after all…

  32. I am far from convinced that the Vice Presidential choice means very much electorally. (One could argue that the last one that mattered was LBJ in 1960, who delivered Texas to Kennedy is a very close race.) Political junkies and the media obsess about it for a few days, but then the whole subject fades away. Already, Biden is fading into the background, having neither harmed nor helped Obama’s poll numbers.

    To the extent there is any benefit, however, McCain is now poised to reap those gains. Far from forcing McCain’s hand, Obama’s bland choice has left it wide open for McCain to go “off the board” and select a running mate who helps take the change theme away from Democrats.

    In particular, naming a woman might be a game changer, especially if that woman can connect with disaffected Hillary Democrats. Meg Whitman and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are just a couple of names I have heard in recent days. (Carly Fiorina would get a cabinet post in a McCain administration, but carries too much baggage from her CEO days to be the VP nominee.) In fact, the potential political benefits are so strong that I believe McCain really has to name a female running mate. If he picks the GOP equivalent of Biden, and goes on to lose a close race, he will be left wondering, “what if…”.

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