Sunday, August 24, 2008

Everyone’s a Critic

So what does everyone think about having Joe Biden on the Obama ticket? Here is what a few bloggers had to say, as well as my thoughts.

Scott at Powerline thinks it was a great pick...for Republicans.
“I breathed a sigh of relief that Obama chose Biden. Like Jay Nordlinger, I find that at best Biden adds nothing to the Democratic ticket. Rather than adding to Obama's attractions or neutralizing Obama's liabilities, if he does anything, Biden subtracts from Obama's strengths and contributes to his liabilities.

As a national candidate in 1988 and 2008, Biden demonstrated no political skills and less political appeal. As in his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees, Biden proved himself (to borrow Ron Rosenbaum's formulation) a self-important clown.

But, unlike Obama, Biden has "experience." Biden's selection by itself lends credence to the rap on Obama that he doesn't know his way around the block. Biden has represented Delaware in the United States Senate for 35 years, since he was 30 (he was 29 when elected).”

Debra Saunders at Real Clear Politics was let down by the pick.
“Joe Biden? I feel the same way I did at the end of the last episode of "The Sopranos."

I confess. I thought Barack Obama would pick Hillary Rodham Clinton as his vice presidential running mate, not because he likes her - word is, he doesn't - but because he needs the backing of the 18 million or so voters who supported her.

Instead, Obama chose a man who, months ago, was shooting for a third- or fourth-place finish in Iowa - but came in fifth, and dropped out after he failed to garner 1 percent of the vote. The Clinton contingent is not going to like this.”

Not everyone saw this as a mistake however. Gene at Harry’s Place had this to say.
“As a longtime admirer of Biden, and as one who favored him in his brief campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, I’m pleased and (after some of the goofier speculation) rather relieved. If one of your criteria for choosing a president is his ability to make smart decisions on important matters, then I would say Obama– in his most crucial decision so far– comes out looking pretty good.”

Old Labour, a frequent commentator at Harry’s Place, wrote:
“Biden has much more in the way of a strong and sensible foreign policy than Obama, which makes the ticket more appealing to those of us on the anti-totalitarian left.”
Mike Murphy at Time sees Biden as an older, more expierenced Obama.
“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 have mixed feelings about Biden. I generally favored him over most of the Democrats running this year; not because he was right about the one issue that mattered to me during the primary (supporting democracy in Iraq), but because he was generally a centrist on most foreign policy related issues, and I could get behind that in a year where most Democrats were running foolishly to their left. I also knew he had no chance of winning the nomination, so I didn’t expect much from his campaign. He performed pretty well in the debates, and he consistently says what he thinks is right without sounding too calculated. Biden is a strong supporter of Israel, and supported both the war in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as the war in Iraq before it went badly. He supports the enlargement of NATO to include ex-Warsaw Pact countries, and for military action in Darfur.

He did offer a solution to Iraq when our mission there looked like a failure, which is more than most Democratic politicians can say. That solution however, was not a sound idea; in 2006, Biden wrote for the New York Times:
“The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests. We could drive this in place with irresistible sweeteners for the Sunnis to join in, a plan designed by the military for withdrawing and redeploying American forces, and a regional nonaggression pact.”
That may sound nice and all, but most Iraqis did not believe this was a plan for success, and the proposal was rejected across ethnic lines, even in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. From Reuters:
“Across racial and religious boundaries, Iraqi politicians on Saturday bemoaned Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's choice of running mate, known in Iraq as the author of a 2006 plan to divide the country into ethnic and sectarian enclaves.

"This choice of Biden is disappointing, because he is the creator of the idea of dividing Iraq," Salih al-Mutlaq, head of National Dialogue, one of the main Sunni Arab blocs in parliament, told Reuters.

"We rejected his proposal when he announced it, and we still reject it. Dividing the communities and land in such a way would only lead to new fighting between people over resources and borders. Iraq cannot survive unless it is unified, and dividing it would keep the problems alive for a long time."

The original 'Biden plan' seems less relevant in Iraq today than at any point," said Reidar Visser, a Norwegian academic and editor of the Iraq-focused website "The trend in parliament is clearly in a more national direction, with political parties coming together across sectarian divides.”
I have a hard time believing the Obama campaign will make this the focus of their Iraq policy, but it is a bit surprising to have the architect behind this idea as number 2 on the ticket. That worries me.

So tell me what you think about having Biden on the ticket? If you have written a post on this, feel free to include a link to it.


Daniel Stark said...

Of the limited political advice I can offer, I still say it's a bad choice (not a disaster though). Not necessarily because Biden is a bad guy or I hate him (in the Democratic primaries, he was one of the more likable ones), yet the problems he can bring to the campaign. He is a hothead who is prone to making offensive statements (though yet again, since I want Obama to lose, I'm all for it, ha!).

Bayh was a much safer choice, he had a state (i.e. Indiana) he could deliver, had plenty of experience (including executive), certifiable centrist, doesn't over shine Obama in anyway, and will listen to Obama's image makers without making a fuss. Bayh, in my opinion, was the choice to make.

NeoConstant said...

The Dems are backwards in every respect here. They should have nominated Clinton and had Obama as her running mate. They would have been nearly unstoppable. Instead, Biden or no Biden, they are engineering their own defeat...

Like in 2004, if the Dems lose again, I say it's not a GOP victory at all--it's just a Democratic loss.