I love me some Joe Biden.
I always thought Biden was the best white guy running for president this cycle. For me, he is the quintessential old-school American politician – someone who is funny, smart, brilliant on his feet and has always shown himself able to get things done. He brings real gravitas to the ticket and shows everyone that Barack Obama is serious about putting the post-Bush government back together. Obama said he was looking for someone who would feel free to speak his mind and challenge Obama when he thought he was wrong. He’ll certainly get that.
That’s the easy part. Because of his long record of service and his big mouth, Biden also comes with loads of baggage for Republicans – who can only win by tearing their opponents down – to poke through. Even before the announcement this morning, they were already dragging out video from his ‘88 campaign, saying that the presidency was no place for on-the-job training, showing his use of line from a British politician the same year, squawking about his calling Obama "articulate" and "clean" last year and blah blah blah. McCain even put out an instant ad in the middle of the night, showing Biden at a debate earlier in this campagin, saying that Obama was "not ready". This is the sort of thing that they would have done with anyone – like I said, they have no other argument for their own election.
But Biden is going to give as good as he gets. He does not suffer fools gladly, and will turn the lies of the GOP against them when he has a chance. Senatorial comity notwithstanding, if I were John McCain, I would stay away from any direct public debate with Biden. All he would have to do is remind McCain what it was like when he was really independent, really a maverick, before he was stuffed into the uncomfortable straightjacket of right-wing Republican orthodoxy for this campaign.
Biden is also perfect for the VP-as-bulldog role – he’s the best choice in that way since Bob Dole, without the dark surliness and without being wrong all the time. The Joe Biden that has sharply grilled Bush lackeys and judicial nominees is going to be an invaluable resource for the campaign and in the White House after that. We can only hope that the campaign consultants get out of the way and let Joe be Joe, with no "play it safe" constraints.
Most exciting is the prospect of Biden in the vice-presidential debate. It will be one thing if McCain tries to get cute by picking a newby like Pawlenty or Jindal. Either will most likely be stunned into Qualye-ian silence by Biden's superior experience and intellect. But, my dream scenario continues to be to have Captain Underpants, Mitt Romney, on the ticket. I would love to see Romney try to mix it up with Biden – Biden would take Romney’s empty rhetoric and stuff it down his golden throat. I can’t wait to see those vacant eyes glaze over the way they do when he knows his goose is cooked. Besides the entertainment value of having Mitt to kick around for a couple of months, an all-rich/all-elitist McCain-Romney ticket would provide an excellent contrast to the far more modest Obama-Biden pairing. The motto: Obama and Biden – we only have one house each!
The only drawback in the choice of Biden is that, at 65, he is unlikely to be a viable candidate if Obama serves until ‘16. But that’s a small consideration and there will be no shortage of heir-apparents if the Democrats are able to govern effectively when they have control of both houses of Congress and the White House. The choice of Biden shows that Obama will be ready to hit the ground running, ready on Day One. That was someone else’s most effective argument for her candidacy, and Joe Biden takes care of that for Obama.