by Mark Rhoads
At 2:20 am Saturday Chicago time, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations were running stories that said they had "confirmation" from Democratic Party officials that Sen. Barack Obama was ready to announce that Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware would be his running mate for VP. If this story holds up until some hoopla in Springfield happens later today and if Biden is confirmed, then Obama has made a very foolish selection and Republicans should be cheering.
For example, in Aug. 2007 Joe Biden was asked during a candidate debate if he stood by his previous criticism of Sen. Obama when he said that "the presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Biden replied, "I think that -- I stand by that statement."
Apparently Obama and his team think that Joe Biden will somehow compensate for Obama's own lack of experience in foreign affairs instead of only emphasize it. But the risk is enormous that the selection of Biden, of all members of the Senate, will not lessen Obama's experience gap and will only quadruple the arrogance problem that Saint Barack already contends with.
As I wrote a few days ago on IR, one of the most famous standing jokes in Washington among reporters is the axiom that of all the love triangles in the national capital there is no more powerful love than the affair between Joe Biden and the sound of his own voice. In a city bursting with egomaniacs in both parties, Joe Biden need not take a back seat to anyone when it comes to his personal hubris. My bet is that it will be almost impossible for Obama's managers to keep Joe Biden on message for very long. Joe Biden is famous his industrial size gaffe machine which often operates overtime. A famous example was the time in 2007 when he shot himself in the foot by saying an African-American such as Sen. Obama who was well-spoken and "clean" would attract many new voters.
The reason that many people remember how Biden was forced to drop out of the 1988 race for president is that his mistake in plagiarizing the personal life story of British Labor Leader Neil Kinnock, and adopting it as his own life story, fits a longtime pattern of Biden's tendency to claim credit for work primarily done by others. Sound familiar? So apparently Obama is so worried about his lack of foreign policy experience he is willing to take on Wild Card Biden, who brings little to the table in terms of electoral vote strategy. The three electoral votes of Delaware are normally in the Democratic column in the fall and would be there without Biden. Obama apparently chooses not even to try to put Indiana or Virginia in play by passing on Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia as possible running mates. I also did not think those candidates could ensure those states for Obama but they would have made the McCain campaign recalculate the money equation in those pro-GOP states.
Finally, a fairly high percentage of some 1,800 pro-Hillary delegates have been slapped in the face in metaphorical terms if the choice is Biden. News stories of the last two days that Obama did not even vet Sen. Clinton will make Democratic Party unity even more difficult because a lot of those delegates will think that Hillary was "dissed" by Obama and by tranferrence will feel they were also "dissed." Obama's cave in to Bill and Hillary Clinton by giving them so much time at the convention may boomerang by taking the spotlight off Obama and Biden for two critical nights of TV coverage. By choosing Biden, Obama must think his only inexperience gap is in the field of foreign affairs rather than far more generally. One can add to the many areas of Obama inexperience his now ostentatious inexperience in running a national political campaign in a post primary environment. Obama's first major decision shows he is not yet ready for prime time and will have a tough time getting ready by November because the stature gap between Obama and McCain is a major hurdle to overcome.