Nine days before Obama must have announced his running mate, it seems that most speculation is focusing on Joe Biden. I have four categories I tend to lump VP possibilities into: the sublime (John Kitzhaber, Vic Snyder), the very good (Jack Reed, Kathleen Sebelius), the unacceptable (Tim Kaine, Chet Edwards) and the outrageously unacceptable (Evan Bayh, Sam Nunn). Biden falls somewhere a little short of the "very good" category. I generally like him a lot on foreign policy, and even though he voted for the AUMF, he did try to pass a much more limited authorization for force, and he talked before the war in much more cautious, measured, and even prescient terms than Bayh or other war supporters did. His record on the Balkans (via Jon Cohn) is damn near perfect, and very in sync with the kind of advice Sam Power will be giving Obama. And, of course, there's hardly a more effective surrogate on foreign policy in the entire Democratic party.

Most of his negatives have been mentioned over and over: the plagiarism scandal, his vote for the bankruptcy bill, his long-windedness, his tendency toward gaffes. And these are all real issues; I think he's done a good job of deflecting the plagiarism issue with humor, and that the Senator from Delaware deserves a little slack on issues regarding the credit card industry, but they're real marks against him all the same. Also, I worry about the message that picking a 36-year Senate veteran who's chaired two of the body's most powerful committees (Judiciary and Foreign Relations) sends about Obama. Rather than reassuring voters nervous about Obama's relative inexperience, it could focus attention on that perceived flaw. This is pretty petty, but I also am concerned about who Obama would pick as his Secretary of State if Biden's the running mate. With Tony Lake out of the running, John Kerry and Dick Holbrooke seem like the top contenders. Holbrooke would be godawful, and I'm lukewarm on Kerry at best.

All that being said, if Obama can't pick Sebelius because Georgia and Musharraf's resignation put foreign policy back at center stage, and Jack Reed really is (*tear*) off the list, Biden's about as good as they come. Obama could do a lot worse.

P.S. If Obama does pick Biden, though, I think they're going to have to have a talk about this:

Listening to a bloviating colleague at his first meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama slipped a three-word note to a member of his staff: "Shoot. Me. Now."

4 thoughts on “Obama-Biden?

  1. Intrade has almost as much faith in Evan Bayh as in Joe Biden. Those are the two standouts in that venue.
    If you strongly disagree with Bayh on the issues, then maybe you are right, but it seems to me that Bayh has a lot of positives in terms of political strategy. To begin with, that he could help tip Ohio.

  2. I set out my view on all of this last week when you were blogging for Ezra where I predicted it would be Biden. Again with Bayh though, it isn’t the end of the world if he gets picked, Dylan. He’s been a cipher in the Senate and the only thing most could say definitely about him is he’s ambitious. He seems like a team player and would probably be easier to control than Biden and I do believe he would bring Indiana. I would still prefer Biden. Also, I’m fairly wonky but as a native Oregonian I ‘m still very puzzled by your fascination with John Kitzhaber. (Seriously, do you know many Oregonians that share your enthusiasm?) Reed would have been great, but he doesn’t seem to want it. Sebelius also great, but would be perceived as a stunt I’m afraid and the chattering classes are talking foreign policy credentials these days as you indicated. In any case, we should all be happy if it’s not Sam Nunn.

  3. Biden would lose him at least one vote (not that he would have voted for Obama anyway). My former friend & business partner (until he went rabid Bushie & moved to Wyoming) always said he left Delaware because he hated Biden so strongly.

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