by Jeremy Young | 8/22/2008 11:02:00 PM
Per Jake Tapper, Obama appears to have chosen Joe Biden as his running mate. Here's what this choice tells us about Obama:

1) He has no problem with the DLC, lobbyists, or the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Biden has been known for decades as "the senator from MBNA" because of the extensive banking-lobby cash that's flowed into his coffers. His unforgivable support of the bankruptcy bill likely stemmed from that support.

2) He has no problem with neocons. Biden declared during the primary debates that he would unilaterally bomb Darfur on his first day in office. That's not what Obama believes, but he doesn't seem to have a problem with a vice president who supports it.

3) His vision of "change" involves using the same people who've desecrated Washington for decades. Biden has been in the Senate for thirty-five years, during which time he's not distinguished himself as any kind of maverick or outsider. Apparently Obama's "change" means keeping the same people in government rather than throwing the bums out.

4) He's not offended by slurs against East Indian people, which Biden has been known to utter, or by plagiarism, in which Biden has been known to indulge. Nor is he bothered that the man he's chosen once referred to him as "articulate and bright and clean."

5) He wants to be the movement all by himself, not share that distinction with others. Unlike Bayh, Kaine, and even Sebelius, Biden is too old to run for president after this (he'd be 73 at the end of Obama's second term). This thankfully spares us from a Biden presidency, but makes the campaign about Obama's ego rather than his message.

It's a dark day to be a Democrat.

[Update] I should mention that I've long held that Biden would be the single worst VP pick Obama could make. Regardless of my feelings about the guy, Biden's the most undisciplined guy in the Democratic Party, and unlike his chief competitor for that distinction (Howard Dean), his gaffes aren't red meat for the base, they're just stupid and offensive (like his East Indian comment). Welcome to a future where we get to wake up every day and wonder whether the vice presidential candidate has ended the race while we slept by shooting off his mouth.

[Update II] Now cross-posted at The Wild, Wild Left and Never In Our Names.

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20 Comments:


Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/23/2008 11:30 AM:

What else does it say?

* He's serious about winning: Biden brings strengths which deftly counter the more substantive critiques of Obama. The "wise old VP" thing worked for Bush (not so much for Perot, perhaps)

* He's serious about Congress: for the VP's role as congressional liason to be filled by a real legislator, instead of a foul-mouthed sultan's vizier, says that there might be a working relationship.

* He's serious about change: I know you don't like Biden's long career -- and I'm not at all happy about the bankruptcy thing, though the share of the Delaware economy taken up by credit card companies is immense; the drug war stuff is actually more disturbing to me -- but Biden's got a long record of trying to solve problems though aggressive legislation. Unlike McCain, whose track record is spotty and self-serving....

I think you're overreaching to call Biden a neo-con: he's a liberal interventionist, to be sure, but not an imperialist.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/23/2008 12:37 PM:

I disagree. If Obama had made this pick based on winning, he would have chosen Bayh, who would have guaranteed him a win on the electoral math alone. How well did the "wise old VP" thing work for Bob Dole? Meanwhile, we have no "legislators" in this country, only weak-minded enablers of Bush crimes. The way to be serious about Congress is to clean it up from the outside, not to promote a consummate insider. As for Biden's "aggressive legislation," the man's known for being all hat and no cattle. How many times has he said he wanted to investigate Bush and never done it, or whined about the war and then voted for more funding? Finally, I'm not sure how you can say someone who declares that his first act as President will be a unilateral bombing of a sovereign nation isn't a neocon. That seems to me the very definition of neoconservatism.

 

Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/23/2008 12:53 PM:

Bob Dole? He was the old one; the VP was Kemp.

Bombing isn't necessarily a neoconservative act. There are other bad reasons to do that (and a few good ones).

 

Blogger mark on 8/23/2008 2:51 PM:

Hopefully, Biden meant he'd bomb the government in Khartoum and not, say, the Fur refugees. Even Curtis LeMay wasn't that gung-ho :)

Here's what the Biden pick tells me, coming from my perspective, about Obama:

Biden may be a Beltway hack but he is a solid liberal. it means that Obama could not tolerate a moderate or a conservative Dem at his side, even if it would help him win, as he intends to govern much further to the Left than any POTUS since and including LBJ. Ideology is a lot more important to Obama than he cares to let on.

That Obama has good sense not to pick Hillary for reasons unbounded.

That Obama sees his key political vulnerability in foreign affairs/Defense, not the lack of executive experience as McCain shares the same problem in the latter case.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/23/2008 2:55 PM:

Ahistoricality, Dole was old, but Kemp was ancient in political terms. He hadn't held office in eight years, and was viewed as an elder statesman in the way Sam Nunn would be viewed now. The result was that nobody had ever heard of Kemp, and he went over like a lead balloon.

Mark, in what way can you describe a DLC Truman Award winner, who voted for the war and the bankruptcy bill, as a "liberal"? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

Blogger mark on 8/23/2008 3:04 PM:

Biden's lifetime ACU rating is a mighty 14 %.

Biden's ADA rating is 100 %

He's a liberal if not a "progressive" - and pretty darn liberal compared to the average American.

 

Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/23/2008 3:17 PM:

I never got the impression of Kemp as "elder statesman": he was the "youth and vigor" side of the ticket to the vast majority of the population. More importantly, he was "ideological balance" -- he held views that were fundamentally incompatible with his running mate's -- and that's always awkward. Biden's disagreements with Obama are quite minimal by comparison to that train wreck (see also: Dukakis/Bentsen, Gore/Lieberman), as Obama is clearly prepared to be much more interventionist than pacifist, and more realist than idealist.

And a reasonable look at the overall record does show Biden as being basically liberal on social and legal issues.

contra Mark, I think Biden actually is quite mainstream -- most properly designed surveys show pretty much overwhelming majority support for basic liberal values and positions --

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/23/2008 4:32 PM:

FYI, Markos of all people agrees with me.

 

Blogger Ahistoricality on 8/23/2008 4:41 PM:

You mean here, where he says that Biden successfully shores up some of Obama's credential weaknesses (which is what I said, too) while bringing other strengths, or here, where he says that Biden proves Obama's tactical skill and openminded management? (Honestly, Jeremy, you made me read dKos: next time, link to something)

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/23/2008 9:49 PM:

Sorry. I could have sworn I linked to this, but you're right, I didn't.

 

Anonymous Ralph Luker on 8/24/2008 4:29 AM:

Jeremy, Your post reminds me of nothing so much as your "Historians Against Obama" piece, from which you subsequently recanted. I take it this is your recantation of your recantation. That history makes its own argument for reserving judgment.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/24/2008 11:56 AM:

Ralph, I don't consider myself to have "recanted" anything. My position on Obama has changed only slightly over time. I'm voting for Obama; I prefer him to Hillary Clinton and to John McCain; I find him admirable in many respects and occasionally courageous; I'm deeply disappointed by his refusal to pursue a more leftist, partisan, and vindictive strategy. The only change in that position is that I didn't definitively decide I was voting for Obama (as opposed to voting for Edwards, voting third party, or not voting; contrary to what someone on another site charged, I never considered voting for Clinton) until mid-March of this year, after I read the first piece you reference. Despite my sentiments here, I will still vote for Obama, but I'm going to call a spade a spade when I think he's made a particularly odious choice of running mate. I vote for him because I think he'll make a good President and possibly a great one; I criticize him because it remains my goal to move America leftward, independently of the Obama campaign.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/24/2008 11:56 AM:

Above comment should read "after I wrote the first piece you reference."

 

Anonymous Anonymous on 8/24/2008 6:47 PM:

Despite my sentiments about the fact that some so-called leftists here are more concerned about tenure and teaching contracts than they are about seeking the truth about what happened on a certain date in NYC, Northern Virginia, and in rural Pennsylvania, I will still be a regular reader of this blog, but I'm going to call a spade a spade when I think it's a particularly odious choice to choose "safety by going along" when it comes to important historical events.

I come here because of the generally progressive viewpoints expressed regarding other historical matters of interest.

I criticize this (and other) blog because it remains my goal to move America towards truth, independently of the (somewhat understandable) position of those who feel it best to not pursue answers to certain questions.

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not." Andre Gide

 

Blogger idiosynchronic on 8/24/2008 8:03 PM:

Jeremy, please tell me you didn't write, "calling a spde a spade".

Yep, you did.

Anyway, I think everyone certainly has as much grasp on the truth of the situation as anyone else does, mostly because of the fact we're all speculating how a future Obama presidency with Biden in it will play out. Sure, we cite the candidates' respective histories as examples of their moderation or liberalism, but we can't accurately predict with great certainty how the next few years will play out.

We have two candidates - one on a fast track, the other a statesman of the previous generation, both of whom are pragmatic and moderate usually because of their pragmatism. They greatly remind me of Clinton/Gore, and will most likely govern as they did. (Gore may not have been 2 decades older, but he was an institution in Congress because of his father and the 16 years of Congressional service.)

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/24/2008 9:47 PM:

Idio, yes I did. Whoops.

I think the difference between Biden and Gore is that Gore wrote Earth in the Balance between his 1988 run and 1992. Gore had changed markedly during the runup to the election (in somewhat the way John Edwards did this cycle); Biden hasn't changed in decades.

 

Anonymous Anonymous on 8/25/2008 12:24 PM:

Whoops not needed, Mr. Young.

It's rather immature to imply something other than what is meant by a reference to an old term used by
Poker players in the Western United States back in the 1800s.

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/25/2008 4:05 PM:

Anonymous, you missed the joke. I rendered the old saying hilarious by inserting a typo.

 

Anonymous Anonymous on 8/25/2008 9:14 PM:

Okay, if you say so, Mr. Young, but
what is the typo you inserted?

 

Blogger Jeremy Young on 8/25/2008 9:36 PM:

Actually, you're right -- I said it right. It's Idio who got it wrong -- "calling a spde a spade"