With the decision of who he would choose as his running mate behind him, Barack Obama showed up at the old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, for a little symbolic fist bump with history. It was seventeen months ago, in the snow and cold of a midwestern February day, that Obama announced his candidacy on the steps of the grand old structure.
Candidate Obama realized at the time his one major shortcoming:
I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness — a certain audacity — to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
Since then, everyone from Hillary Clinton to John McCain has questioned whether he has anything to recommend him for the job besides the gumption to declare for president as a sitting senator with a little more than 2 years experience under his belt.
Enter Joe Biden, who was also in Springfield to stand shoulder to shoulder with the nominee and proclaim to the world that he really didn’t mean all those things he said during the primary; that when Biden said about Obama, “I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training,” he was talking about some other Obama — the one that didn’t choose him as a running mate expecting people to believe that someone with Biden’s foreign policy experience would fill in the massive holes in his own resume.
Obama certainly gave his former critic a big buildup in his speech before 30,000 of the faithful. He spared no praise for the six-term senator, even going so far as making believe that 36 years in Washington and membership in the most exclusive club in the world — the select clique that runs the Senate of the United States — doesn’t affect the way such a man looks at the world:
Joe Biden is that rare mix — for decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn’t changed him. He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America’s cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.
A real “Man of the People” — that’s our Joe. Except Obama, who has heavily criticized John McCain for his ties to lobbyists and for taking their dirty money, seems not to have noticed that the man whose “values are firmly rooted in the middle class” also has his hand firmly rooted in lobbyist’s wallets:
The industry that has given Biden the most cash has been lawyers/law firms ($6,567,404) followed by real estate ($1,297,690). Pro-Israel groups are the 8th biggest contributing industry.
Obama may decry lobbyist cash (or at least federal lobbyist cash), but Biden has taken $344,400 from lobbyists since 1997 — making lobbyists the 10th biggest contributing industry.
That seems a direct contradiction of the Obama message.
Given Obama’s problems with flip-flopping, his positions on everything from victory in Iraq to FISA reform, and the biggie on campaign finance, a little contradiction like this should thankfully go almost unnoticed.
The Joe Biden that Obama described in his speech was a far cry from the savage questioner of Clarence Thomas, the brutal inquisitor of Robert Bork, the Democratic pit bull of the Judiciary Committee who conservatives came to hate. Instead, this was working class hero Joe, the senator with the lunch pail who commutes daily to and from Delaware on the Amtrak express to Washington:
Time and again, he has made a difference for the people across this country who work long hours and face long odds. This working class kid from Scranton and Wilmington has always been a friend to the underdog, and all who seek a safer and more prosperous America to live their dreams and raise their families.