The funniest of several mirthful moments in the Democrats' vice presidential
candidate rollout was the assertion by aides for Sen. Barack Obama that though he's
been in the U.S. Senate for more than 35 years, Joe Biden isn't a Washington insider
because he takes the train home to Wilmington every night.
Do they really believe this? Or is it just that they think we're stupid enough to
The only running mate who could have moved the needle much for Sen. Obama was
Hillary Clinton, and he had powerful reasons other than electability for not
But Slow Joe?
If Mr. Obama had been more confident, he would have selected either Virginia Gov.
Tim Kaine or Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Either would have reinforced his
primary campaign theme of being a welcome change from the old ways of Washington.
Gov. Kaine had the additional advantage of likely turning historically Republican
Virginia blue. And although there is little likelihood Gov. Sebelius could have
delivered Kansas, her skill in working with a GOP legislature would have reinforced
another Obama primary theme, that of reaching across party lines.
But either would have exacerbated Sen. Obama's inexperience in foreign policy. His
boss really wanted to select Ms. Sebelius, an "Obama insider" told the American
Spectator's Washington Prowler, but "we needed the foreign policy on the bottom of
the ticket more than we want to admit."
If Sen. Obama had been more prudent, he'd have selected Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Sen. Bayh served two terms as governor before being elected to the Senate in 1998,
so he has the experience Sen. Obama lacks. In the Senate he serves on the Armed
Services and Intelligence committees, which touch the foreign policy base. He
probably couldn't flip Indiana from red to blue, but he'd have made things
uncomfortable for Sen. McCain in a state Mr. McCain must win. And although Sen.
Bayh rarely says anything memorable, he never says anything stupid.
Which brings us back to Slow Joe, who has a Ferrari for a mouth, but a Chevette for
a brain. The first moves so much faster than the second that he frequently gets
himself in trouble.
"As he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals and free
associations, as he demonstrates yet again...that he is incapable of staying on the
river of thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never
quite work his way back -- you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind
against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river, but not remembering
where it is," Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2006.
Ms. Noonan used to be a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. But a year earlier, David
Ignatius of the Washington Post, who normally has kind things to say about
Democrats, described Sen. Biden as "a man who... seems more impressed with the force
of his own intellect than an objective evaluation would warrant. Listening to
Biden, you sense how hungry he is to be president, but you have little idea what he
would do, other than talk...and talk."
The Obama campaign evidently considers Sen. Biden to be a foreign policy expert,
because he has served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for nearly 30 years,
and been its chairman for the last two.
But, said Democratic blogger Mickey Kaus, Mr. Biden "doesn't have gravitas. He has
Sen. Biden strongly supported going to war in Iraq. But he opposed the troop surge,
which proves you don't have to be young and inexperienced to be spectacularly wrong.
But let's assume voters pay more attention to Sen. Biden's job title than to what
he's done in it. The pick is problematic for Sen. Obama in other ways.
Sen. Biden has shown a fondness for the PAC money Sen. Obama has made a fetish of
eschewing. His son, Hunter, is one of those lobbyists Sen. Obama criticizes, one
who's been accused of fraud. Sen. Biden himself has close ties to Tony Rezko
accomplice Joseph Cari, who has pled guilty to extortion. Mr. Rezko was Sen.
Obama's earliest benefactor, and it is not helpful to have voters reminded of the
Sen. Biden is nearly as old as Sen. McCain, which makes it harder to attack Mr.
McCain on his age. Mr. McCain was in the Hoa Lao prison when Sen. Biden entered the
Senate, which makes attacks on Sen. McCain as a "Washington insider" hilarious.
Hello Slow Joe. Goodbye hopenchange.