Saturday, August 23, 2008


I spent Friday as a hybrid of a political junkie and Pavlov's dog. I grabbed my BlackBerry everytime it buzzed, hoping to learn who Senator Obama had selected to be his running mate. It wouldn't make any real difference in my life if it took until the convention in Denver to find out who would be joining the ticket. But the political junkie half of the hybrid had to have a fix.

Ultimately, I received the news online just before midnight. The Associated Press reported that Virginia's Governor Kaine and Indiana's Senator Bayh had not been selected. They based the report on leaks from the prospective candidates' staffs. The AP also reported that the Secret Service was on its way to Senator Biden's home outside Wilmington, Delaware. I went to bed slightly disappointed that there hadn't been a magic technology moment in which I was informed of the the veep selection directly by my candidate. The disappointment was more than offset by my satisfaction with the choice.

Joe Biden offers the ticket an innoculation against charges that a President Obama would not have sufficient foreign affairs experience during these perilous times to justify entrusting him with the responsibility. He also has enough experience in the corridors of the Capitol to effectively advocate on behalf of an Obama Administration's policies. In my mind, this was the most critical element in the selection of a running mate.

Campaigning as an "outsider" who is going to change Washington represents nothing more than a quixotic endeavor unless, once elected, a candidate has the clout to get the insiders to go along with the program. One only has to recall Jimmy Carter's successful campaign and generally failed presidency to see my point. Senator Biden, however, fills the relatively rare role of a respected member of Congress who has continued to nurture his roots and relate to the public's frustration with the status quo. And while President Carter squandered the talent of Walter Mondale, who also served in an advisory and advocacy role, Barack Obama has the inspirational ability that Jimmy Carter lacked that will be necessary to lay the groundwork for Vice President Biden's lobbying efforts on behalf of an Obama/Biden administration.

A final thought: I've thought for some time that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will become the GOP V.P. candidate. The McCain campaign's reaction to the selection of Joe Biden by Senator Obama makes me even more certain. The McCain campaign wasted no time in putting up a television ad showing Senator Biden criticizing Senator Obama when they were still competing for the nomination. It makes no sense to pursue that line of attack if you're planning on nominating a strong critic of John McCain, e.g. Mitt Romney, in a little more than a week.