Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Assets and the Baggage Biden Brings to the Obama Campaign

Tom Edsall at the Huffington Post offers a reasonably objective report on what Joe Biden brings to the Democratic ticket in The Good, Great, Bad, and Ugly.

Edsall writes:

“Joe Biden brings a host of assets to the Barack Obama campaign - chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; working class Irish Catholic roots; toughness on the stump; and the crucial, if difficult to describe, attribute of likability.

“At the same time, the five-term Delaware Senator carries some baggage, including two alleged incidents of plagiarism; an episode of resume inflation; a tendency to shoot from the mouth - only sometimes on target; and the dubious distinction of becoming the first national party nominee with known hair plugs.

‘“That said, the Biden choice is likely to be far less consequential to the outcome on Election Day than the current flurry of commentary suggests. Although political analysts and political scientists have explored the importance of vice presidential picks, ‘the quantitative research finds nothing,’ notes MIT political scientist Charles Stewart III. ‘You can't even really say that there's a 'first do no harm' principle involved, since there are plenty of examples of 'problematic' vice presidential choices, running from Johnson (alienated Kennedy's core) to Bush I (alienated Reagan's core) to Quayle (lightweight boy blunder).’”

(To read Edsall’s post in its entirety, go here.)

I think we can all agree that if Hillary Clinton were at the top of the Democratic ticket or in the VP slot, the Democrats would be generating a lot more excitement and enthusiasm in a race in which an average of the national polls show Obama’s lead over McCain has shrunk to 1.4 points. However, we’re stuck with Obama’s light resume and his ability as a motivational speaker paired with Biden’s experience and his tendency to put his foot in his mouth.

The highlights of next week’s convention have to be the roll call vote with Sen. Clinton’s name on the ballot and the speeches she and Bill Clinton are scheduled to give. Obama’s appearance at that football stadium is destined to be anti-climactic.

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