Why Joe Biden is Vital and the Right Choice

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obama biden twn 2.jpg
Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier has a tough critique out on Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his running mate.
A lot of folks are upset with Fournier. Some went as far to suggest that “FireFournier.com” is available for purchase.
This is going to be a long campaign and we should not be looking for orthodoxy among political pundits about what we are seeing evolve — but we should be hoping for healthy back and forth debate about political choices and policy.
So my response to Ron Fournier is that he misreads what the Biden selection means in this race. Fournier writes that:

In picking Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate, Barack Obama sought to shore up his weakness — inexperience in office and on foreign policy — rather than underscore his strength as a new-generation candidate defying political conventions.
He picked a 35-year veteran of the Senate — the ultimate insider — rather than a candidate from outside Washington, such as Govs. Tim Kaine of Virginia or Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas; or from outside his party, such as Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; or from outside the mostly white male club of vice presidential candidates. Hillary Rodham Clinton didn’t even make his short list.

Taking Fournier at face value — Obama’s decision to get someone to bolster his foreign policy/national security credentials seems like a darned smart move to me. We are entering a period of enormous national security challenges abroad and economic challenges at home. It’s much easier for Obama to requisition the econ experience needed to promote health care, infrastructure, education, support for those hit hard by the real estate sub prime crisis, and the like.
National security advice is much more tough. It takes years of absorption of what the world has been doing to itself to understand how to organize an effective, disciplined strategic course for the United States — particularly at a time when the Bush administration has wrecked whatever global equilibrium previously existed.
So, I applaud Obama for recognizing this. Fournier doesn’t even mention the candidate who was neck and neck with Biden, Evan Bayh. While Bayh has many strengths, he seems to be someone who felt that conflicts and crises are great moments to seize as ways to define America’s power and define the presidency. Bad call as far as I’m concerned. That’s more “tough” than “smart” — and Biden in contrast is a hybrid of both. Perhaps Fournier thought the same. . .he just doesn’t say.
On the issue of supporting Sebelius or Kaine — both impressive governors. They are nearly as new at all this as Obama. The only reason that either would have made sense is for a combination of regional, red-state oriented outreach combined with the intention that withdrawing form the international scene and focusing more exclusively on development at home was going to be the Obama package. I just think that would have been a mistake to forfeit to McCain the entire national security portfolio debate — which picking Kaine or Sebelius might have done.
On Hagel, I love Chuck Hagel and would have loved to have seen him as Obama’s vice presidential pick.
But Ron — you are a smart analyst. How can you seriously suggest Hagel as Obama’s choice when you know very well that Barack Obama has not “technically” won the nomination? Obama’s nomination depends upon the continued support of “super delegates” whose loyalties and support will be declared at the Democratic Convention next week. Had Obama selected Hagel, a sliver perhaps just large enough of irritated super delegates might have abandoned Obama in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Had Obama won the nomination outright, I would have loved more serious consideration of Hagel.
And on Hillary Rodham Clinton, I have always thought that that a ticket with them both on it would be unbeatable. But at the same time, I think Obama and Clinton would have a dysfunctional relationship and dysfunctional presidency. I think that the Obama people failed to reach out as well as they might have to HillaryLand, and this was unfortunate. But I also know that the Clinton team had a lot of attitude issues that they didn’t get over until perhaps too late to encourage serious consideration of Hillary.
But back to Joe Biden.
The fact of the matter is that Biden polls well with many groups of Americans — particularly elder Americans, white working class Americans, African Americans, Juggler Moms, Hispanics, and Jewish-Americans.
Insider or not, Biden is liked by the country — and he’s smart.
And Fournier himself should remember what happened to Jimmy Carter when he tried to be the total outsider who was going to wreck Washington’s ways and do it differently. He had no insider to help him maintain the success of looking like an outsider.
Barack Obama has just hired the guy who can not only continue to help Obama look fresh by helping to get the inside game into the right supportive patterns, he has hired someone who is not a knee-jerk, young study on national security issues who knows what poor shape America’s global position is in today.
There are many reasons why Joe Biden was exactly the right guy for Obama, but the biggest reason is that Biden’s competence will help Obama be able to remain Obama.
None of the other candidates, from my perspective, would be able to deliver that as well.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

36 comments on “Why Joe Biden is Vital and the Right Choice

  1. Tahoe Editor says:

    “DEFEATED BY THE DUKAKIS MACHINE”
    The No. 3 most liberal Senator joins the No. 1 most liberal Senator. This is “post-partisanship”?

    Democrats Field Liberal Dream Team
    Presidential candidates often pick a rival for their party’s nomination as their running mate. But they normally don’t select an also-ran like Mr. Biden. No doubt his personal charm and graciousness had an ingratiating effect on Mr. Obama. And Mr. Biden’s liberalism turned out to be no drawback at all.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121962256899067705.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
    Joe Biden has one crucial qualification to be the next vice president of the United States, at least in the eyes of Barack Obama. He is not Hillary Clinton. Mr Obama has made the opposite decision to the one made by another young and relatively inexperienced Senator in 1960. John F. Kennedy distrusted and detested Lyndon Johnson, but he asked him to become his running mate in the election because he thought that Johnson would help to deliver the Texas vote. He did, and Texas was one of the key states that took Kennedy into the White House.
    There are also potential embarrassments about Mr Biden. I am not referring to the scandals that were dug up by the campaign staff of Michael Dukakis in 1987, though for a politician to be defeated by the Dukakis machine must have been quite a humiliation.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/william_rees_mogg/article4601971.ece
    By choosing Sen. Joseph Biden as his vice presidential running mate, Barack Obama sent three messages.
    The first two are implicit admissions that Hillary Clinton had a point in the primaries. The third tells us more of what Obama means by “change.”
    “Change” means a return not to the Camelot of President John Kennedy, but to the foreign policies of Jimmy Carter. For Biden, an early supporter of Carter in his quest for the presidency in 1976, shares the former president’s view of the world and the United States’ place in it.
    Experience is no guarantee of good judgment. And Biden has been wrong on almost every key issue.
    http://www.nypost.com/seven/08252008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/back_to_jimmy_125971.htm
    Biden = Foghorn Leghorn
    It’s difficult to see how Biden attracts many voters who aren’t already for Obama. The rankings that assign Obama the Senate’s most liberal voting record list Biden in third place. He represents Delaware, a vividly blue state Obama couldn’t lose if he tried.
    http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/vox_pop/2008/08/obamas-choice-g.html
    McGovern-Carter-Obama
    A relatively straight line runs from George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/08/021313.php

    Reply

  2. Henry says:

    STEVE CLEMONS writes: “Biden is vital and the right choice.” Could not disagree more. This choice, at best, is a cipher. JOE BIDEN is an insufferable blow hard with zero charisma and zero popular support among voters. He will not help Obama carry a single state. As a paragon Washington insider, Biden undercuts Obama’s message as a candidate of change. Joe Biden has no particular credentials RE the economy, which polls show is the number one issue with voters. Obama’s choice of Biden opens the door for JOHN MCCAIN to shake up this race by picking as his VP running mate someone really good, charismatic, with appeal to independants. Henry.

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  3. Pat Turner says:

    Can I just comment how sexy Joe Biden is? I’ve met him in person, GAWD he’s got it goin’ on. I’d totally tap dat. You ever get lonely, you call me, ok Joe?

    Reply

  4. Carroll says:

    “The economy and national security are neck and neck for me,” said Smith, a 54-year-old bookkeeper and mother of four. “In fact, I’m not even sure they are separate issues.”
    Obama should have picked Mrs. Smith.
    Instead of Biden
    ” A politician who wastes his country’s resources on a grand scale may have a successful career.”

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  5. WigWag says:

    Wasn’t Barack Obama supposed to make the American South competitive territory for Democrats? Didn’t his primary wins in South Carolina and Georgia presage good things for Democrats in those and other southern states?
    This from the Charleston Post and Courier:
    McCain leads big in South
    Voters say honesty, experience, shared values important
    By Roddie Burris
    McClatchy Newspapers
    Friday, August 22, 2008
    COLUMBIA — Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain enjoys a 16-point lead — 51 percent to 35 percent — among Southern voters over rival Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, a new poll by Winthrop University and ETV shows.
    And, the further into the South you go, the larger McCain’s lead grows, the poll of likely voters in 11 Southern states shows.
    Likely voters in the Deep South — those in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina — preferred McCain by a 25-point margin, 56 percent to 31 percent.
    Southern voters said what they want most in a president is honesty, experience and shared values. Southern voters rated McCain ahead of Obama in each of those categories.
    McCain’s strongest support comes from white working-class Southerners — who favor him by a 34-point margin — and white evangelicals — who favor the Arizonan by 54 percentage points.
    The poll, which was conducted Aug. 1-17, has a margin of error of (plus or minus) 2.97 percentage points.
    While political pundits have made much of Obama and Democrats trying to win over a Southern state or two from the Republicans in November, the Winthrop/ETV poll shows that will prove difficult.
    “It’s about keeping John McCain from sweeping the South. That’s the key,” said Scott Huffmon, associate professor of political science at Winthrop and director of the Winthrop/ETV Poll.
    Rather than attempting to contest the presidential race across the South, a wiser strategy for Obama would be to concentrate on the closely contested Southern states, Huffmon said. “You cannot fight a regional battle anymore.”
    Individual state-by-state polls have shown Obama within striking distance of McCain in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
    Those states account for 70 votes that are up for grabs. The 11 Southern states in this poll will award 161 electoral votes, and 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency.
    On the issues, McCain trumped Obama nearly across the board in the poll.
    The economy easily was the most important issue to Southern voters in the upcoming presidential election. McCain bested Obama on which candidate would handle energy and gas prices better, and who would do the better job on taxes.
    McCain also far out-distanced Obama on who would do a better job of handling the Iraq war and terrorism.
    None of that surprised Jeanette Smith of Chapin, S.C., who described McCain as honest and decisive, strong on national security and unlikely to be manipulated by a foreign government.
    “The economy and national security are neck and neck for me,” said Smith, a 54-year-old bookkeeper and mother of four. “In fact, I’m not even sure they are separate issues.”
    On illegal immigration, sometimes an Achilles’ heel for McCain, and moral values, the four-term senior senator from Arizona again stood taller with Southern voters than Obama.
    “Illegal immigration needs to be controlled,” said 76-year-old Evelyn Perry of Fort Mill, S.C., who was among those surveyed. “I just haven’t really understood what (McCain’s position) is on that — but it needs to be controlled.”
    Even without those specifics, Perry said she trusts McCain more. “Overall, I just think McCain understands better.”
    However, in a glimmer of hope for the Democratic nominee-to-be, more likely Southern voters polled said Obama “understands the problems Americans face in their daily lives” better than McCain does.
    However, Deep South and working-class white voters disagreed, saying McCain understands them best.
    “Senator Obama has a great deal of work to do if he plans to turn the Southern states in his favor,” said Adolphus Belk Jr., who helped design the poll and teaches political science and African-American Studies at Winthrop.
    Belk said Obama has to do a better job at defining himself for voters, moving beyond simply being a new face on the national stage. Obama also has to overcome religious and ethnic misinformation that continues to plague his candidacy, Belk said.
    That’s no short order in the South, either, said Obama supporter John Hines Jr. of Effingham, S.C.. “For older Americans, I think color is still an issue,” said the 53-year-old paper maker.
    Of those polled, 86 percent said race would not be an important factor in how they choose to vote.
    However, a quarter of all likely Southern voters surveyed said that if a candidate had a Muslim parent, it would impact their votes. Obama, who is a Christian, had a Muslim father.

    Reply

  6. Bill Carson says:

    …and did I tell you that Biden’s running mate is black? haha!

    Reply

  7. Joe Turner says:

    I feel sorry for the writer of this editorial. It has to be deeply painful to feign happiness at a Biden selection. I’d rather take a beating than force myself to write something like this. I guess if the pay is high enough…

    Reply

  8. Dan Kervick says:

    I think it’s just wrong, and incredibly obtuse and snobbish, to think that expertise on domestic economic issues is something that can simply be “requisitioned” from policy hack central, whereas foreign policy expertise requires an uber-special years-long course of esoteric study and absorption. It takes a lifetime to understand how the US health care system is put together, if even that is enough. Hillary Clinton and Ira Magaziner, a couple of pretty smart cookies, were unable to achieve health care reform because they didn’t fully understand the structure of the powers that were be arrayed against them.
    This kind of comment seems like another example of the self-congratulatory elitism of the foreign policy priesthood, who think that just because they speak a foreign language or two, and know how to say “un plus petit morceau” when the waiter comes around with the Clafoutis aux Cerises at the French Embassy dinner, they comprise some special caste of brilliant expert sophisticates.

    Reply

  9. MarkL says:

    I think Biden got the job because he is a world class ass-kisser.
    The choice of Biden is rather comparable to Dukakis’s pick of Bentsen.
    That sure went well.

    Reply

  10. Carroll says:

    The ‘progressive’ guru weights in:
    Filled a gap, rather than reinforced
    by kos
    Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 09:52:50 AM PDT
    I wrote a a month ago:
    we really, really don’t want to pick someone who plugs a supposed gap in Obama’s armor. You pick Wes Clark, and people won’t see “phew, national security is covered!”. Nope, they’ll see, “Obama is trying to compensate for his lack of national security creds!” And whether it’s Sam Nunn, or Joe Biden, or anyone else who supposedly patches up a weakness, the end result would be what Gore had to endure in 2000 — “He picked Joe Lieberman to compensate for Gore’s ‘Bill Clinton’ problem.”
    So now Biden is Obama’s pick, and he’s clearly not a reinforcing one. If Obama’s core message is “change” and “judgment” based on his prescience on the Iraq War vote, well then, Biden is the exact opposite of those things. And the media has reacted accordingly.
    But David Sirota made the only observation that matters in the great scheme US government:
    What Biden Means
    by davidsirota
    Sat Aug 23, 2008 at 11:24:16 AM PDT
    “””” It also shows…. how, in particular, the antiwar movement’s strategy of focusing all attention on Republicans…””” has actually helped create the situation whereby the Democratic Party feels perfectly comfortable rewarding supposed Serious Foreign Policy Voics like Biden even after they voted for the war.””””
    Party on………..same old, same old.

    Reply

  11. Gretchen T says:

    Joe Biden is sexy!
    WhoooHoooo, and he gets my vote goin’, WhooHoooo!
    You can all have your Kucinich, Nader, Barr, Paul, whomever …..
    But Joe’s got my vote goin’ ….. hummin’ buzzin’ oooin’ and ahhin’ ………. WhoooHoooo!
    Get that thang, Joe!

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, I will be passing through a neighborhood, in about forty minutes, that I dare not get out of my truck, for fear of gang violence directed against a gringo on mexican turf.
    Thats REAL danger. And many of us face it everday.
    I’m confident, should terrorism strike me down, it will be on American soil, and it won’t be a Muslim doing the deed.
    Its time to put a stop to this horseshit, take care of the homefront, and stop peddling our global meddling.
    I don’t need to swim the Atlantic to find a clusterfuck.

    Reply

  13. Mr.Murder says:

    Joe Biden talks a big game, his voting record doesn’t.
    MNBA
    *cough*
    Iraq War
    *cough*
    This is all about hop[e and change.
    Hope you don’t notice there was not any change.

    Reply

  14. WigWag says:

    Senator Biden’s performance when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas imboglio was widely ridiculed. So widely ridiculed in fact, that Saturday Night Live did a hilarious skit poking fun at Senator Biden.
    Here’s a small piece of the transcript from the SNL transcript site:
    Clarence Thomas Hearings
    Sen. Joseph Biden…..Kevin Nealon
    Anita Hill…..Ellen Cleghorne
    Judge Clarence Thomas…..Tim Meadows
    Sen. Edward Kennedy…..Phil Hartman
    Sen. Howell Heflin…..Chris Farley
    Sen. Strom Thurmond…..Dana Carvey
    Sen. Paul Simon…..Al Franken
    Long Dong Silver…..Chris Rock
    [ open on interior, Capitol Hill, night ]
    Sen. Joseph Biden: [ banging gavel ] Gentlemen! Gentlemen, please! Please! Professor Hill, I want to thank you for your.. patience here today. You’ve shown remarkable courage throughout your testimony. It couldn’t have been easy for you – or any of us – to sit here for the last seven hours and talk about penis size, or large-breasted women having sex with animals, or pubic hairs on soft drink cans, or oral sex, or the black man’s sexual prowess, or large-breasted women having sex with animals. But we appreciate your candor. [ rest of committee shake their heads and smile ] And we, uh.. hope we can reschedule you for another session tomorrow.”
    Anita Hill: Thank you, Senator. [ stands up to leave, bumps into next witness, Judge Clarence Thomas, and quickly walks away from him ]
    Sen. Joseph Biden: The committee, at this time, would like to call Judge Clarence Thomas. Judge Thomas? [ Judge Clarence Thomas sits ] Judge Thomas, we’re sorry to have to bring you back, but, as you know, some pretty serious allegations have been made by our previous witness.
    Judge Clarence Thomas: First of all, I want to say that these proceedings are a travesty!
    Sen. Joseph Biden: Mmm-hmm. Well, I understand that. But you did ask Ms. Hill out on a date?
    Judge Clarence Thomas: Uh.. yes, I did.
    Sen. Edward Kennedy: Were you, uh.. were you drunk at the time?
    Judge Clarence Thomas: No
    Sen. Joseph Biden: And she still didn’t go out with you? [ Thomas nods no ] Now, Judge Thomas, there have been charges by Professor Hill that you talked casually with her about graphic scenes in porno movies. Is that true?
    Judge Clarence Thomas: Yes, it is.
    Sen. Howell Heflin: Uh.. what porno movie did you talk about?
    Judge Clarence Thomas: Well.. I mainly spoke about a favorite of mine, called “The Hind-Lick Manuever”.
    Sen. Howell Heflin: That’s a good movie, Judge! But do you think hard-core porno is the way to go? Because I feel women prefer softer porn.
    Sen. Joseph Biden: Senator Thurmond?
    Sen. Strom Thurmond: I agree with Senator Heflin. Yeah, that’s right! The women like something with more stories and costumes, that’ll transport ‘em to another place and time. That’s right! Women don’t like close-ups of oversized genitalia! That’s just never gonna turn ‘em on!
    [ committee agrees ]
    Sen. Edward Kennedy: A, uh.. another good thing is to get them out on your boat for some reason, because, uh.. because then it’s really hard for them to get away…
    Anyone who wants to educate themselves about Senator Biden’s performance during the Hill Hearings can easily do so. The hearings are available on You Tube. Alas, the Saturday Night Live spoof is not. NBC made You Tube take it down.

    Reply

  15. Carroll says:

    “The collapse of a perception of American power”
    Yep, the ‘perception’ has collapsed. Right along with the ‘actual’ power.
    It strikes me that Joe will punch back against this collapse with his usual master of the universe role which is exactly why it collapsed to begin with.

    Reply

  16. serge says:

    There’s been a lot of interesting back and forth here. I simply hope that the two of these guys go hammer and tongs on these Republic Party goons. Said goons are going to be frenzied in their attempts to bring Obama and Biden down.
    I say screw them. Biden had better do his part, and Obama had better let no opportunity to attack the assholes slip past them. It’s ours to lose; let’s hope we don’t.

    Reply

  17. Mr.Murder says:

    Obama race baited when he campaigned, why not pick Biden for doing the same?
    That “clean and articulate” gaffe was a love letter, from an average Joe.

    Reply

  18. new york pundit says:

    It’s all but over now. Biden and Obama is charisma times 1,000. Mc Cain will look like a bumbling fool (though he is not)as we get closer. With Florida and now Pennsylvania ready to go democratic, and with$4 gallon gas tied to Texas Oil Companies, and the no-end-in-sight Iraq war..I predict Obama 53 / Mc Cain 47. If the “race thing” has not yet
    turned anything,it “ain’t” gonna happen–
    if it does 51-49 still Obama-Biden.
    Blame the Republicans,mainly because Bush-Cheney
    have not groomed any one to popularity except maybe a few Generals and our Secy of State.
    Unless Mc Cain comes up with someone so so so
    popular it’s over. One shot at a win is a wild
    card—ready>>>>>> McCain-Hillary.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Does this mean we will be giving Georgia the One billion in aid that Joe called for?
    Giving Georgia One billion US dollars for invading Osesstia ‘after’ we warned them not to do it is good foreign policy expertise?
    Would I hire someone who allocated my assests this way. I don’t think so.
    But carry on with the hope. Looks like more of the same to me so I am just going to be a spectator.

    Reply

  20. Linda says:

    WigWag,
    I never questioned the accuracy of the quotes but do raise questions about taking one quote from any long hearing out of context to somehow decide whether someone is OK or not. It doesn’t make much sense, especially for politicians who have long records in hearings transcripts, public speeches, etc.
    I just think it’s a waste of time–same as if I kept asking for Hillary to make a stronger statement rejecting her vote on Iraq military force authorization or keep blaming her and Bill for messing up health care reform early in his first term. I said then and still believe that that serious blunder by an inexperienced and arrogant President and First Lady meant that we wouldn’t have health care reform for another 20 years. So I partly blame them for all the additional uninusred and underinsured since 1993. But if Hillary were the nominee, I’d vote for her as better than McCain.
    In being fair to Biden, I could make an argument that his words and actions were trying to be civil rather than cowardly, especially when he didn’t have the veto-proof majority in the Senate to accomplish anything.
    So for now, I choose to be a little optimistic and hopeful about next year, try to get at least one Democratic Senator from Georgia and a Democrat as President, and then next year or the year after, I’ll see if I am upset with what they do. Of course, if McCain is elected, I’ll start being anxious on 1/20/09. If Obama makes arrogant and inexperienced mistakes, I’ll condemn them. But until then, I’ll just want to see Obama-Biden elected to have the opportunity to make things a little better and even make mistakes.

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “the collapse of the ‘perception’ of American power and global doubt about our abilities to achieve results on the world stage is a national security issue of major order.”
    The collapse of a perception of American power (if true) is an enormous national security challenge? How so? Actually, again if it’s true, then it is in fact an enhancement of national security because it will cause the United States to lessen its hegemonic zeal to attack other countries economically and militarily and will force it into (back into, that is) a more cooperative, treaty-based relationship with other countries, and away from belligerency. It is US military activities, according to the CIA, which have lessened US national security, and Joe Biden promoted war in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.
    The concept of “American Exceptionalism,” that belief in American superiority which to you is our ability “to achieve results on the world stage,” in other words, would be a welcome change, particularly to the other 180 countries in the world who have had to deal, in various ways, with ugly Americanism imperialism.
    Along with this change would come (should come) a decrease in the obscene Pentagon corporate welfare budget, nearly equivalent (ex-war) to the military expenditures all other countries combined.
    Also along with this change would come an increased attention to domestic problems, of which there are many. The US compares unfavorably to the rest of the civilized world in health care, human rights, mass transportation, incarceration and homicide, for some examples, and faces huge challenges with the environment and energy.
    Again, Steve Clemons has fallen for the bogeyman-meme of “national security.” As Hermann Goering said in 1946: “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    Maybe Senator Obama can explain whether he is concerned that the Vice Presidential nominee he selected might have a problem with Americans of Indian decent. Here’s what Senator Biden had to say about Americans who came from the subcontinent;
    “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
    Was this a racially insensitive remark? Judge for yourself. The video is on You Tube.

    Reply

  23. b says:

    Barack Obama just made his first major presidential decision. It signals that he’s ready to go toe to toe in a debate with the Republicans on foreign policy. This move by Obama is so important for the country because of Biden’s tremendous ability to counter Republican foreign policy. He offers the best chance we have at convincing the American people Republicans are taking us off the cliff and making us less safe every day. It also opens the door to a bipartisan cabinet to guys like Hagel and Lugar, who repsect Biden so much. Maybe a team of rivals, after all, eh? Biden still represents “change” because he’s one of the few who gets things done in Washington because of his bipartisan tendencies. People have to stop analyzing every statement Biden has ever made over the last 30 years. This gotcha game is so destructive. He’s in place to to make a mockery out of the campaign John McCain is running and to offer experience to the ticket. I can say personally I’ve already encountered many moderate Democrats who were very suspicious of Obama and disinterested in who won this race, who are now energized and excited about the ticket.

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  24. WigWag says:

    Linda, I took the quote on Gonzales from the transcript of the hearing. The quote I provided is an accurate rendition of the tenor of the Senator’s comments. And in any case, the words speak for themselves.
    Whether it was the Gonzales hearings, the Thomas nomination or the Senator’s role in the confirmation hearings of any of the judges or justices nominated by either Bush, Senator Biden was meek and ineffectual.
    On foreign policy I think the Senator has been okay. On the Judiciary Committee the Senator was terrible. He almost never stood up to the President or his right wing Republican colleagues. His behavior on that Committee can best be described as cowardly.
    But I am happy to acknowledge that whether McCain picks Romney, Pawlenty or anyone else, his selection will be ten times worse than Biden.
    In fact, I could vote for Biden. After all, he is qualified to be President. That’s a major difference between the junior Senator from Illinois and the senior Senator from Delaware.

    Reply

  25. We're Screwed says:

    Joe Biden, “I am a ZIonist.” From a March 2007 interview with
    Shalom TV (How about being an American, Joe?)
    In an exclusive Shalom TV interview, US Senator Joseph R. Biden
    Jr. (D-DE) emphatically stated his commitment to the State of
    Israel, calling the country “the single greatest strength America
    has in the Middle East.”
    Senator Biden further stressed that without Israel, one could
    only imagine how many battleships and troops America would
    have to station in the Middle East.
    Meeting with Shalom TV President Rabbi Mark S. Golub in
    Washington, DC, the candidate for the Democratic Party’s
    presidential nomination said that it’s insulting for any American
    to suggest that Israel is somehow the cause of the war in Iraq.
    “If, tomorrow, peace broke out between Israelis and Palestinians,
    does anybody think there wouldn’t be a full-blown war in Iraq?
    And, conversely, if Iraq were transported to Mars, does anyone
    think there would not be terrorism visited upon the Israelis
    every day?
    “So let’s get it straight. Israel is not the cause of Iraq. Iraq being
    settled or not settled has nothing to do with Israel’s conduct.”
    The Senator also expressed a sensitivity and empathy for Israelis
    who have had to live with terrorism.
    “[From 9/11], Americans can taste what it must feel like for
    every Israeli mother and father when they send their kid out to
    school with their lunch to put them on a bus, on a bicycle or to
    walk; and they pray to God that cell phone doesn’t ring.”
    “I am a Zionist,” stated Senator Biden. “You don’t have to be a
    Jew to be a Zionist.”

    Reply

  26. Mary says:

    Keep writing about Biden on foreign policy please. And could you
    tell us about the portfolio of the Foreign Affairs committee versus
    the Armed Services committee. I think there is room to point out a
    significant McCain weakness about failing to see the big picture
    because he is hopelessly mired in a military-centric mindset.

    Reply

  27. Linda says:

    WigWag,
    An election should be about more than finding quotes and taking them out of context like the one above. And BTW his names is spelled Gonzales.
    I already posted below about how I wasn’t thrilled with how Biden handled Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, but he’s a pro-choice Catholic. So what difference does any of that make? You’re too smart to be like a few women who have posted here and actually say they are old enough not to have to worry about unwanted pregnancies, even from rape or incest, so they don’t care about younger women’s right to choose.
    But they’re still so angry and stupid that they are going to vote for McCain.
    All that is about the past, and it predicts nothing about the future or Biden’s positions today.

    Reply

  28. WigWag says:

    Joe Biden on Ronald Reagan’s 1982 Evil Empire Speech;
    “…a model of internationalist wisdom…”

    Reply

  29. WigWag says:

    As a particularly astute blogger at another site has noted,
    “Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court because Joe Biden is a coward. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Biden allowed Republicans to hijack the Thomas confirmation hearings. He watched passively while the nominee’s perjury was overshadowed by vicious right wing attacks upon Dr. Anita Hill. Witnesses who were prepared to substantiate Hill’s allegations of professional misconduct against Thomas were not summoned because Biden’s top priority was mollifying his reactionary colleagues.
    Biden became enraged during the Thomas hearings, but his hostility was not directed to the Republicans who smeared an honorable woman or at the judicial nominee who lied under oath. Instead, the senator furiously denounced civil rights groups and women’s organizations that claimed they had convinced him to derail the nomination. “Joe Biden is not in anyone’s pocket!” he thundered.”

    Reply

  30. riffle says:

    The real problem with Fournier is that he sought a position with the McCain campaign this very cycle.
    He’s in charge of the major political news organiztion and he was trying to get a job with one of the campaigns! That is laughable.
    This would matter less if he worked for a news organization that was primarily devoted to analysis–but the AP is supposedly like the “box score” for the campaign. It’s carried, often unedited, by many other news sources.
    With Fournier, it’s like Tony Snow running the AP political news during Bush’s campaigns.
    It has already produced slanted coverage as well as bogus analysis. Fournier definitely should be fired and just go to work for McCain directly.
    More detail here:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_08/014385.php

    Reply

  31. susan says:

    This from June, 2004:
    Joe Biden: I was in the Oval Office the other day, and the president asked me what I would do about resignations. I said, “Look, Mr. President, would I keep Rumsfeld? Absolutely not.” And I turned to Vice President Cheney, who was there, and I said, “Mr. Vice President, I wouldn’t keep you if it weren’t constitutionally required.” I turned back to the president and said, “Mr. President, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are bright guys, really patriotic, but they’ve been dead wrong on every major piece of advice they’ve given you. That’s why I’d get rid of them, Mr. President — not just Abu Ghraib.” They said nothing. Just sat like big old bullfrogs on a log and looked at me.
    Big old bullfrogs. Yeah. Here’s one more quote from Biden:
    Biden: About six months ago, the president said to me, “Well, at least I make strong decisions, I lead.” I said, “Mr. President, look behind you. Leaders have followers. No one’s following. Nobody.”
    In the 2008 election, Biden was the only Democrat who really figured out how to talk about Republicans and foreign policy. All the other candidates on the stage started from the presumption that Republicans were strong on national security, and voters needed to be convinced of their failures and then led to a place of support for a Democratic alternative. Biden dispensed with all that. He started from the position that Republicans had been catastrophic failures on foreign policy, and their ongoing claims to competence and leadership should be laughed at, and even mocked.
    Republicans have failed at governing. As the Guardian’s Michael Tomasky wrote, “This race is about an unnecessary war that was based on lies. It’s about a lousy economy and a housing boom that went bust. It’s about $4-a-gallon gas. It’s about America’s dreadful reputation in the world. It’s about federal inaction on a wide range of problems, most notably healthcare and climate change, but a bushel of smaller things besides. It’s about 84% of Americans thinking the country is on the wrong track.
    In other words, it’s about the Republicans – their stewardship (failed), and their ideas (stale). And it’s about how committed McCain is to that stewardship and those ideas.”
    Biden is a brawler and it appears that Obama is ready to rumble.
    Let’s roll!

    Reply

  32. WigWag says:

    Joe Biden was a member and a long time chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    Senator Biden tells Alberto Gonzalez how much he likes him during his confirmation hearings:
    “But I want to explain to the public and anybody listening: This is not about your integrity. This is not a witch hunt. This is about your judgment. That’s all we’re trying to do. And so when I get to ask my questions, I hope you’ll be candid about it, because — not that it’s relevant — I like you. I like you. You are real — you’re the real deal.”

    Reply

  33. Steve Clemons says:

    Joe M. — Joe Biden’s plan for Iraq does not split Iraq into three countries but proposed a federation of three largely autonomous regions united nationallly with a central government that dealt with oil management, production, and asset distribution and national security on behalf of the nation of Iraq. Biden was an early supporter of the Iraq War — but he’s recanted that and been an ally in exposing the corruption that surrounded the invasion and in exposing much about the Bush administration’s incompetence and lies regarding the Iraq War.
    Don — the collapse of the ‘perception’ of American power and global doubt about our abilities to achieve results on the world stage is a national security issue of major order. We don’t see this situation in similar terms.
    best, steve

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “We are entering a period of enormous national security challenges abroad”
    Really? What “enormous national security challenges abroad” threaten the average American? The United States itself is not threatened by any foreign military power, and yet has managed to concoct a “war on terror” directed against a guy in a cave in Pakistan (no, I didn’t make that up), against a “terrorism threat” that is statistically miniscule or even non-existent.
    This whole “enormous national security challenges abroad” meme has been devised to (1) suck money out of the national treasury for corporate welfare and (2) redirect the attention of US citizens from the myriad domestic failures of the US government, and Steve Clemons has fallen for it.

    Reply

  35. the718 says:

    Anyone, including Steve, who thinks that Obama really represents or will change anything is seriously deluded in their thinking.
    Obama is an exceptional but ultimately classic politician. He is not going to change a single thing.
    If he were, he would not have thrown FISA under the bus with his recent vote.

    Reply

  36. Joe M. says:

    Mr. Clemons,
    What about the fact that Biden was an early supporter of the Iraq war, and has been such an open forceful advocate for splitting Iraq into three countries?
    That’s directly opposed to Obama’s central message on Iraq, do you think it matters?

    Reply

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