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Works and Days

Biden is back—Smile, Laugh or Cry?

August 23rd, 2008 - 10:43 pm

Biden—Pros and Cons

Plus Side

He’s been around in the Senate about ten times longer than Barack Obama, and offers age and experience to Obama’s thin (“above my paygrade”) resume and blank slate. Biden understands Washington after more than three decades (Obama made a ludicrous claim when he announced today that “Joe Biden… for decades…has brought change to Washington.”).

He has endured personal disasters and crises with courage and resolve, both the tragic death of his wife and daughter, and his own brain aneurisms. He can be blunt, and is used to the Beltway braggadocio, and as the old stag can advise Bambi about the ways of the forest. He’s run two campaigns, so Biden’s negatives are already out there, and there will be few new surprises. He can start in mediis rebus, unlike a Quayle in 1988 or Edwards in 2004. He’s friends with Hil, and might have a good chance to woo her voters back. While a liberal, he’s not in the Barbara Boxer/Harry Reid Pluto orbit.

Downside

Some “hope and change!”

I don’t see how anyone can attribute singular foreign policy expertise to Biden. He is all over the map on Iraq—take Saddam out; my perfect war is now your fouled-up peace; hurrah for the elections; it’s now George Bush’s war; the surge worked; etc. Each new position was always predicated on the perceived pulse of the battlefield, and the assurance that no one amid the pontifications would check to see that his latest sermon was usually at odds with his of last month. Biden voted against Iraq #1 in 1990-91, and for Iraq #2, so let Obama figure that out.

I’ve written too many dissections of Biden’s idiotic idea of trisecting Iraq. Every one of Obama’s criticisms of Hillary on the war could be trumped in the case of Biden, perhaps quieting him about hammering McCain for wanting to take out Saddam. Biden’s inquisition of Justice Alito is now the locus classicus of Senatorial arrogance and self-absorption—but not surprising given his prior unprofessional hit on Justice Thomas.

The problem is not just his past record of plagiarism or silly gaffes, but the continuing hubris that fuels such corner-cutting and logorrhea. Biden is affable and smiles, but listen closely to what comes out of his mouth; it often is  wierd, whether silly or savage, rather than “scrappy”. If Obama thought he was getting an old pro, scripted explicator likely to contrast with his own gaffes or unteleprompted disastrous declarations, think again: Biden will match Obama, slip for slip, gaffe for gaffe.

Pundits keep evoking his more embarrassing evaluations about Obama as comparable to Vice Presidential Pick George H.W. Bush’s early dismissal of Reagan tax cuts as voodoo economics in the 1980 primaries. But Bush never said, in the manner of Biden, that Reagan simply was not qualified to be President, or boasted that he would be honored to run with Jimmy Carter. So there is a lot of material for McCain ads (cf.#1: Biden praises McCain, and trashes Obama).

More concretely, we now have two lawyer-Senators, neither with executive experience, or any knowledge of the private sector. Both are liberal–no southern or Midwestern governor here, or even Hillary’s latest blue collar reincarnation.

Both simply left law school and abruptly ended up in politics and the rest is history. Their shared frame of reference is the collection and spending of someone else’s money. Delaware won’t offer too many electoral votes, and I question punditry that suggests “working-man” Biden will really ensure nearby Pennsylvania.

Bottom line: other than the fact that VP won’t matter that much by November—unless Biden does something analogous to what ended his two earlier Presidential runs—Hillary would have better united the party, more likely picked up the independent voter, and her advantages and savvy far outweighed the problems of leashing Bill. After all, she got more primary Democratic votes in one state than did Biden in his entire campaign, and would have offered the ticket another historical first.

Look to McCain to pick up 20% of her votes–and watch her facial expressions as poor Hil professes her hope for an Obama win.

Olympian Afterthought

To the extent the Chinese put on a splendid Olympics, it was due to their uncanny emulation of Western organization, protocols, and economics. To the extent they did not, it was due to their rejection of Western notions of freedom and human rights.

The Europeans, for all the hype, were boorish, time after time—whether the Brit middle-distance runner taunting his opponent, or the Spanish racist eye antics. Often they seemed just creepy, like the Swiss male beach volleyball team.

After watching the Olympics, one is always reminded that the US is a veritable UN, but one that works. Our coaches and athletes are from all over the world, to the extent that it is almost impossible to ascertain what an American looks like—not true of almost all other countries.

And in sports like swimming, basketball, and track, again and again winning non-American athletes, well, turn out to be sort of Americans, given their frequent training and residence at American universities and colleges.  No decline of America evident here.

A Few Embarrassments:

The robotic and exploited underage Chinese gymnasts;

The crass track and field post-event interviewer Bob Neumeyer, who insisted on jabbing his mike in the faces of the recently defeated with questions that were as stupid as they were cruel;

Why the hours of diving? Finally left the television on, conked and used it as Sominex…

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