Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Biden
Here's the Times story.

At work today, we were waiting and waiting and waiting for the announcement, and getting more agitated as the afternoon wore on because it just isn't done that BIG NEWS is released late on a Friday--much less over the weekend. From that perspective, the fact that this leaked tonight rather than in the morning suggests that Obama totally "lost control of the process." That will cost him style points, I'm sure, with the punditariat.

In the larger scheme, though, I have trouble believing that matters to anybody outside of those who follow this nonsense so obsessively as to dwell on "political stagecraft." CNN has 24 hours a day to fill, and if Wolf Blitzer and his gaggle of idiots were put out by having all that time to fill and no news to fill it with, and they tomorrow cluck about the timing, so be it. I think--and again I largely blame the Clintons and Bushes for this--that stuff has come to overshadow the substance.

And on the substance, I think Biden's a pretty solid pick. The objections to him, at least in lefty circles (because they're easily offended) and among those same pundits (because they're even more easily distracted), will revolve around the dumb things he's said over four decades in public life. As if every public figure hasn't said dumbassed things. The upside of Biden and his "experience" is that the guy sends a signal to certain groups of voters that Obama's "change" isn't revolutionary and scary; it's grounded in previous traditions. There's not only a measure of positive continuity to it, but even renewal.

Expect to see and hear Biden presented as a throwback to the Democrats of the 1960s and '70s: not the special-pleader activists but the "regulars" who had a sense of fair play, moderate-to-hawkish political instincts, and a focus on the pocketbook issues of their constituents. The Kennedys and Hubert Humphrey and even Scoop Jackson, rather than the much more compromised and debased Democratic leaders from 1980 to the present. For that matter, Biden's blunt or artless remarks, while they might wrinkle noses at Daily Kos, also might actually send a positive signal to a lot of Americans who certainly don't consider themselves bigots, but have made the occasional dumbassed remark. There's even a chance that his inartful statements might prod some reporters to re-examine McCain's plentiful trove of verbal fuckups.

The last thing about it is that, a bit like Bush picking Cheney in 2000, the selection of a "statesman type" who won't change the electoral math in any obvious way also sends the signal that this is a confident nominee who's looking ahead to governing rather than trying to win one state. Picking someone like Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh might (or might not) have boosted Obama's chances to win by tipping Virginia or Indiana. But neither selection would have had any chance to deepen that appeal. Biden might do that by, say, tempering the trepidation of older voters.

And he's going to be a hell of an attack dog, which will help--if just by giving the mainstream press more shiny things to jump after while repeating Obama's themes and priorities.


Chris said...

Biden will help him actually, you know, govern. People wants all outsiders and newbies until you need to pass some legislation.

Brian said...

Conspiracy! Obama-Biden kinda looks like Osama Binladen!!

David said...

Ah, you've been watching FOX...

But what does the coded message mean? Hmm?