So it’s Biden. It strikes me that Obama essentially picked himself.
20 years ago Joe Biden was the Barack Obama of his day. Elected to the Senate as a whiz-kid at 29, Biden was young, smart, talky, telegenic, and ambitious. He had an impressive personal story, as well as the possession of a very healthy ego. It all came crashing down 15 years later when Biden lifted some speech rhetoric from British Labor party chieftain Neil Kinnock. Now Biden is back. Older, wiser and probably seeing a little of himself circa 1988 in the dashing Obama.
I don’t think any VP pick can elect a President, especially now that the good old days when the Veep could steal his home state are over. That said, the case for Biden is clear. He’s fast on his feet, a good debater, and quite strong on the attack. When he is on his best game, he is very, very good. My guess is that Obama wanted an formidable attack dog for the campaign and a wily D.C. wingman for his potential administration. The risk with Biden is that the same loquaciousness that makes him an impressive campaigner also serves as a sort of Miracle-Gro for unfortunate gaffes. The press corps can thank Obama for this choice because covering Joe Biden will not be dull.
Camp Obama, like most Presidential High Commands, chose to make a thematic statement about foreign policy instead of playing for a specific swing state (though blue-collar friendly Biden will have reach into Pennsylvania). (Speaking of parenthetical thoughts, Biden probably owes Comrade Putin an extra-nice Christmas card this year; the Georgian crisis clearly helped him.) It is yet to be seen however if voters will see Biden’s foreign policy gravitas as a big plus to the overall ticket or a stark reminder of Obama’s inexperience.
Meanwhile, this choice will roll the final tumblers in McCain’s VP calculation. Hmmm, let’s see, Obama now has a fast-talking attack dog. Mitt Romney, call your office.