The Odd Blog

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Obama picks Biden as running mate

Posted by That Other Mike on 25/08/2008

Mr Obama could benefit from Biden's foreign policy clout, analysts sayBBC NEWS | World | Americas | Obama picks Biden as running mate.

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has announced that Joe Biden will be his running mate in November’s election.

Mr Obama’s choice, confirmed on his website and with a text message to supporters, comes ahead of next week’s Democratic Party convention.

This is quite a savvy move on Obama’s part. Biden is an experienced Senator with a lot of foreign policy experience under his belt –he’s on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee– and has been in the Senate since 1972.

He’s a moderate Democrat with the potential to bring in working class white male votes; not enough to get the whole of the vote or even a majority, but perhaps enough to tip the balance. This is a crucial issue in some respects: the working class white male vote has been going to the Republicans for years, based partly on social conservatism and the (erroneous) belief that they represent a better choice for the economy. While Democrats have historically held the black vote and the women’s vote1, they have not usually done very well amongst the white male vote, and have been chasing it for some time.

Another reason Biden might bring in the WM vote, although likely to be glossed over, is that he blunts the perceived foreignness of the Obama campaign: he doesn’t have too strange a name, his middle name isn’t Hussein, and, more to the point, he’s White. His presence should dilute the xenophobia a little.

Biden is, though, as we said, most valuable to Obama as a foil to his admitted lack of foreign policy experience; he provides some balance on the ticket.

He will also give Obama the appearance of experience in other areas. It’s not that he’s lacking experience, not really: he’s been involved in politics of some variety since at least 1992, which is a long time in a job by anyone’s reckoning. It’s worth noting that many of those crying about his alleged lack of experience were more than happy to vote for Bush in 2000, when he had only 5 years experience as Governor of Texas and some small experience in his father’s single successful camapign under his belt.

That being said, Obama has been painted as lacking experience, which is probably down to his youthful appearance more than anything else; he’s 47. If that seems young, it’s only because the field of Presidents has been dominated by the elderly. There have been some very successful younger Presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, for example, was only 42 when elected, JFK was 43, and Clinton was 46, as was Ulysses S. Grant. Is anyone going to tell us that they failed as Presidents because of their relative youth? In opposition to the slur of excessive youthfulness(!), though, Biden is 65. While we should not make the mistake of confusing age with experience or wisdom, he has been involved in high-level foreign policy for a long time, and is known as a clever and intelligent politician.

The other side of it, of course, is: What’s wrong with Biden?

Well, he has a history of making intemperate or ill-judged remarks, and said some things about Obama during the Presidential campaign that may rebound on him later. This could be managed with the same impressive grasp of media relations that the Obama campaign has already used, but he’s going to need to stay on message and be kept on a tight leash, if I might be permitted to mix metaphors a little.

Other than that, I don’t see much in the way of potential problems; in some ways Biden is the perfect balance to Obama. He’s got cross base appeal coupled with real political creds. If the Obama campaign can keep up the same aggressive campaigning and image control that’s already been used, they’ve got it in the bag.

The next question is what is to be done with Hillary Clinton? While I think keeping her in the Cabinet (assuming an Obama win) would be useful and important, given her capabilities and experience, I don’t think she’d be willing at this point to Secretary of whatever, rightly seeing it as something of a sop. So what to do? She deserves to be involved in the new government on some level; if not for her own abilities, then because the weasels PUMAs will have a tantrum over it, and while they don’t represent a huge voter bloc, they might be enough to cause trouble come November.

My bet would be a place on the Supreme Court. She’s qualified, experienced and politically savvy, while also being strong enough a player not to be seen as Obama’s puppet. Now, this is rank speculation here, but there are also House and Senate elections up at the same time. If voters in these elections also end up riding the anti-Bush wave and the fact that the Democrats have far fewer areas to defend, there could end up being solid Democratic majorities in Congress; this of course, leaves open the question of whether there would even be a spot for Obama to fill. Leaving aside the faint possibility of Congress’s creating new places on the Court (unlikely, as it seems the number 9 has become sacred), the only member of the court likely to retire due to old age in the next session is Associate Justice John Paul Stevens; while the rest of the court might be considered elderly, the next person down from him is Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is a mere stripling of 75 compared to Stevens’s 88. Assuming that Justice Stevens retires, though, a seat on the SCOTUS would be an excellent way to smooth things over and keep the country running smoothly under Democratic leadership; it would also let her cement a legacy of perhaps as much or even more lasting impact than the Presidency.

This is all so much speculation until a winner is declared, of course.


1Before someone comes along and accuses me of ignoring the intersections between these two groups, one can refer to them separately because they represent slightly different voting tendencies, and also, fuck off, you smug, self-absorbed shit. I understand the concept of intersectionality, thanks; it’s not fucking rocket science.

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2 Responses to “Obama picks Biden as running mate”

  1. Lottie said

    Great post, Honey! I was pleased with Obama’s choice and thought it was quite smart for the reasons you mentioned as well. And I’d love to see Hillary on the Supreme Court!

    Here’s hoping…

  2. […] darling husband, Mike, author of The Odd Blog, wrote a very good piece discussing Obama’s choice for a running mate. Be sure to check out the two drabbles he posted as well. My honey is […]

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