So much for that text message announcement. Obama really should’ve done it earlier – this afternoon at the latest. All he’s done now is piss off the morning papers by making them miss their deadline, and given the networks a scramble for Saturday morning. How very throwback to think you could avoid the internet attention – but then, they got what they wanted in millions more phone numbers. And the biggest winner of the day is big Telco. Hooray!
So what can we say about the choice? I must admit that I, like Jonah Goldberg it appears, have always had a soft spot for Joe Biden. He’s actually a lot like John McCain in his blunt personality, albeit without the history of heroism behind it, which forms a package some find entertaining and others abrasive.
He certainly fits Obama’s Cheneyesque goal in a choice, which is why I thought Biden was the likeliest selection this morning. (I get few “I told you so” moments, so allow me this one.) In the end, Obama wasn’t interesting in breaking down any political traditions by going for a dark horse, going courageous with Clinton or pissing off the netroots with Bayh or even swinging for a state with a targeted pick like Kaine – he just wanted an old white guy who’s been around Washington forever. And lo and behold, he found one!
Biden is a “reassure people” pick, not a Hope pick, and certainly not a Change pick. Say it with me now, and know it is one of the first times you’ve heard it said about Joe Biden without an accompanying snicker: GRAVITAS. Such a ludicrous word it’s become if it can be applied to this fellow, who is in so many ways an uninspiring Washington politician – an ornery chap who likes women a bit too much for his own good, a horrible liar during the Clarence Thomas hearings (and during a few others too), and yes, all of it coming with an ego the size of Jupiter.
What’s more, for a man who’s supposed to bring vast tracts of foreign policy experience to the table, he’s really more of a shoot from the hip type – take this TNR anecdote for example:
At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.
The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.
So why do I still kind of like the man? Well, if I had to explain it, my view would come down to this:
Joe Biden does not believe that America is a bad idea.
This fact, of course, separates him from most liberal Democrats. Including Michelle Obama. And that is a good thing.