Sunday, August 24, 2008

VP or Plan B?

It's taken me this long to get past the disbelief that Barack Obama has chosen Joe Biden to be his running mate, pending the results of the convention. Depending on who you ask, this is either a brilliant choice or a horrible choice. Biden is seen as a foreign policy expert, having served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a number of years, and has been known to hit back against Republicans who criticize him or the Democratic Party. Critics say Biden is egotistical and out of touch.

From a stratgetic standpoint, the Biden pick had me puzzled for a while. Delaware, Biden's home state, isn't going to go Republican anytime soon. Biden's been in the Senate for a long time, which contradicts on some level Obama's message of "doing things differently." Even if he's one of Obama's greatest defenders on the campaign trail, he's made more than a few statements that could come back to haunt him and the ticket. So, why would Obama elevate Biden when there aren't that many upsides to him?

Biden was Obama's "Plan B."

In the 2004 election, Howard Dean was the Barack Obama of the 2008 election until the Iowa Caucuses. After a few miscalcuations and some media manipulation, Dean looked weak and the party felt they needed a new candidate. Enter John Kerry, a fundamentally flawed candidate, but one that could serve as a viable, and more importantly politically "safe", alternative to Dean. And we all know how that turned out.

Personally, I think John Edwards was Obama's first pick. Edwards is young, handsome, and really would have been able to beat the drums for change. Plus, prior to the whole affair with another woman scandal, he was relatively scandal-free, and he would have been able to draw a number of voters who were supporting Hillary Clinton. After the story about his affair and alleged love child came to surface, though, Obama needed to find an alternative. Enter Joe Biden, who is a politically safe choice.

But there is always a drawback to a "safe" choice: it can turn into a boring choice. Obama's candidacy has been built on youthful energy and a desire for change. Having someone who at least on the surface looks like the opposite of what got Obama this far undercuts the seriousness of the message somewhat. With the majority of Obama supporters, it's not going to matter, but I'll bet there are more than a few supporters who are questioning the pick, if not their entire support for Obama.

And with a few days before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, that could spell the difference between an Obama victory and an Obama defeat.

1 comment:

Stella Rondo said...

The only change the Biden pick represents is that shoud Barry win, instead of one pompous gasbag in the White House we'll have two pompous gasbags in the White House.

I have heard one of the positives about Biden as VP is that, should something happen to Barry, he'll be experienced enough to step in as president. What a shame they couldn't get the experience guy in the number one position.

My predictions for the election hold still hold: 1) that Barry will turn out to be as ordinary as dirt, and 2) this election will be the story of the hare and the tortoise. Unless of course McCain make some really boneheaded VP pick like Lieberman, in which case the election will resemble more the sinking of the Lusitania.