Barack Buys a Lemon

Joe Biden is not the standard-bearer for Change.

A few weeks ago, Barack Obama was lauded for his wise selection of the highly respected, experienced, gravitas-laden Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running-mate.

My, how things change.

Now, after John McCain's earthshaking selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Barack Obama finds himself not only speechless (unlike Joe Biden) but also feeling a cold draft where his warm and fuzzy message used to be.  Over the past year, Obama has moved heaven and earth to make sure that this election is about "Change!" plus a little bit of Hope.  Now that we're in the home stretch, the person carrying the banner of Change is - his opponent.

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but the choice of the young, female governor of a far western state, famed as a budget-cutter and scourge of corruption, with absolutely no exposure to the corrosive Washington atmosphere of corruption, represents Change with a capital C.  What's more, the decades-long meme of Republicans as incorrigibly sexist lies all but demolished, just in time to take advantage of the fact that at least half the Democrats believe Hillary Clinton was robbed of her rightful throne by sexist commentators, pundits, and of course, Obama himself.

And in the other corner, we have... Joe Biden, who makes John McCain look like a newcomer to politics.  Biden first settled himself comfortably into his Senatorial seat while McCain was still strapped into a Vietnamese torture chair.  When Joe first went to Washington, he rode not Amtrak, but Penn Central, behind a Depression-era electric locomotive.

Think of it: Joe Biden has been in the Senate so long, he rode trains before your taxes started paying for them.

Change?  The only change Joe Biden represents is a fresh pair of Depends.  Which, to listen to him bloviating on the news, should best be worn on his head, covering his mouth.

It's true that not all of the ridicule of Joe Biden is entirely fair.  When he was pilloried for saying Barack Obama was "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," are we to understand that Biden's critics thought Obama inarticulate, dull, and unclean?  And though he has repeatedly confused Osama and Obama, that's not necessarily a Senior Moment, most everybody does that.

But you don't have to look far for Bidenisms that are without excuse.  It's not so much that he says things that are inherently and transparently stupid, as that he takes a long time to say nothing intelligible at all.  On the subject of his vice presidential campaign, Sen. Biden said:

My role in this campaign is I'm the old man. I really thought I was still in pretty good shape. But I watched when they, when Barack, as they say, 'rolled out,' his, his, Vice President nominee. Half of the people in America thought I was going to get 'rolled out.' I don't know.  And I was listening to one of the news broadcasts after we had that great event in Springfield, Illinois, and there...was a runway to get up to the, to get up to the microphone from the door we came out. And I came out, and it was a long way away, I didn't want to hold people up, so I started jogging. Next morning, I listen, I think it was Gwen Ifill, whom I love, Gwen Ifill said, you know, something to the effect that, 'It was a great speech, but Biden shouldn't run.' I thought, What are you talking about I shouldn't run? What do you mean I shouldn't run? So, you know, I don't like young guys anymore.

Well, that was enlightening, eh?  At least Barack must be relieved that Biden is keeping his eyes firmly fixed on his opponent.  As Joe said a few days back:

There's a gigantic difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent.  She's good looking.

Hmm.  In a race that may very well be decided by angry women who were robbed of their standard bearer, Barack Obama has got to be suffering from buyer's remorse.  He can't even count on Biden to try to defend him from attack:

Biden repeatedly praised [Palin's] speech, noting she made "good, funny lines. ... I'm glad they weren't about me. I was sitting there thinking, whoa, zinger."

But what can Barack do?  For the first time in his career, he finds himself in a situation where there just isn't enough room left under the campaign bus to throw someone.

A vice presidential nominee is a prospective elected official in their own right.  They cannot just be summarily fired.

A presidential candidate who tries to leverage his VP pick out still must struggle with the fact that it was his pick in the first place.  Just about the only issue of substance Obama has on which to run is his "good judgment."  If his biggest recent political decision was not just wrong, but so egregiously wrong that it has to be corrected within weeks, what's he got left?

And if he can't throw this albatross overboard, he's left with him hanging around his neck - while Hillary stands on the sidelines politely suppressing a chuckle.  Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold - even when it's accidentally served fresh from Joe Biden's mouth when he says:

...She's easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America, and quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me.

Hillary certainly doesn't represent change - and neither does Obama/Biden.  But thanks for the slogan!

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Partisanship.
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