Obama: Was Biden the right choice?

Weighing in on the wisdom of choosing Joe Biden as vice president

It was worth the wait, said Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic. After putting his party through weeks of suspense and intense speculation, Barack Obama made a shrewd choice last week and tapped veteran Delaware senator Joe Biden to be his running mate. Biden may be chronically “prone to gaffes,” thanks to a lifelong love affair with the sound of his own voice; nonetheless, he’s a “terrific vice-presidential pick.” Raised in working-class neighborhoods in Scranton, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., Biden intuitively connects with the blue-collar whites who are so wary of Obama. As a Catholic, said David Brooks in The New York Times, Biden will also help Obama in another key demographic. Most important, as a 35-year Senate veteran and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden brings experience and foreign-policy muscle that Obama lacks.

You can say that again, said National Review Online in an editorial. Obama picked Joe Biden because he knew he had to do something to plug the gaping holes in his presidential résumé. But in sharing the ticket with a Washington insider and liberal “attack dog,” Obama has directly undermined his promises to bring “change” and a “new kind of politics” to America. As for bringing in white, working-class voters, said Fred Barnes in The Wall Street Journal, Biden has twice run for president, and both times got “embarrassingly little support.” He’s hardly a proven vote-getter. “What Obama has done is create an all-liberal ticket,” and history shows that Democrats win the White House only when their ticket has some centrist, red-state appeal.

“I may be alone among conservatives,” said Michael Graham in National Review Online, “but I’m not cackling with glee” over the Biden pick. It’s not that Biden himself is such a formidable asset; the “Delaware Gaffe Machine” is certain to blurt out some embarrassing comments between now and November. But the choice of Biden is a sign that Obama, finally, has “grown up” as a candidate. The “cocky, holier-than-thou Obama” of the primary season would have picked a soul mate to run with—another youthful, idealistic, mold-breaking outsider, like Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, to underscore his message of change. Instead, Obama made a hardheaded political calculation, one that shows he knows he can’t win this thing by force of personality alone. Obama, it’s now clear, realizes he’s in for a tough fight, and that “is not good news for John McCain.”

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