The Rainbow Candidate and the Plain Vanilla Veep

Barack needed a surprise.  He has become so dull, that McCain looks exciting beside him.  So the Obama held us all breathless for a day or so while he studied the field of Democrats, publicly pondered different names, and then settled bravely on a stirring choice:  Joe Biden.  The sheer boldness of this is breathtaking.  Biden has been running for president almost since the Eisenhower Administration it sometimes seems, and he has been posturing as thoughtful man since he purloined the speeches of British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock twenty-one years ago.  The Delaware senator safely delivers his home state of Delaware and that is about all.

Clearly, Obama is playing for time (or Biden his time.)  His once-strong lead has vanished.  States once toss ups, like Missouri, have moved firmly into the McCain camp, and states once safely Democrat, like Wisconsin, are edging toward the toss up status.  All the signs point toward McCain momentum.  And so, Barack, who seems to lack a single new or clever idea, has decided that playing defense for the next one hundred days or so is the best political strategy.

Has Bob Dole been secretly advising the Obama?  Joe Lieberman, eight years ago, was an inspired choice.  John Edwards at least was youthful and Southern.  Cheney proved rock solid as a campaigner, whatever the Left may hoot about him now.  The last vice presidential nominee this lame was Jack Kemp.

The former Buffalo congressman had been great two decades earlier, when he was a very popular conservative politician in a blue collar Democrat stronghold, but by 1996 he had been out of electoral politics for decades and lacked the cachet of a young, vigorous man.  Senator Dole seems not to have noticed.  Obama seems not to have noticed that Biden also bloomed during the Reagan years.

The only thing politically that can be said about Biden is that he is safe.  Barack seems to be desperately thrashing about for safety now.  In Biden, Barack finds the ultimate politician.  Biden was elected to public office when he was twenty-eight years old and he has served as an elected official for the last thirty-eight years.  Only three Democrats in the Senate have served in that body longer than Biden: Robert Byrd, who is positively ancient; Teddy Kennedy, who was almost drafted for president in 1968 -- forty years ago; and Daniel Inouye, who has been a senator from Hawaii almost since Hawaii has been a state.  In the 209 year history of the United States Senate, Biden ranks as 20th in length of service among all states, all political parties in the history of the republic.   He has already served in the Senate longer than Bob Dole served.

Yet Biden has never been in the Senate leadership, never been elected by fellow Senate Democrats to any post beyond what seniority has required.  In his community, the Senate, Biden has never been Democrat Floor Leader or Democrat Whip or Democrat Conference Chair or Democrat Conference Secretary or Democrat Policy Committee Chair:  He was never been anything that required his fellow Senate Democrats to pick him out for a special honored position.

This cannot be because Biden was an outsider.  Not only has the senator been in the Senate almost forever, but because Delaware (anywhere in Delaware, really) is a relatively short drive from Washington, D.C.,  Biden has lived his entire adult life either working in Washington or living near Washington.  He has no idea at all what "Flyover Country" is, or what people believe there.  This is not a reflection, in particular, of Biden's ideological bent -- he is very liberal, but not very, very liberal -- as it is of his natural home, which is Washington or very close to Washington.  How can Obama bring change when he has selected someone who so very much represents "just the same"?

People will savage Biden, but there is no particular need to do that.  He is not the worst, not the most corrupt, not the most radical Democrat politician in America.  But Biden is, perhaps, the plainest vanilla Democrat in America.  The exceptional thing about him is that there is almost nothing exceptional about him, except that he has been a Washington politician for a long, long time. 

Which is to say that Biden is a dull man's choice; he is a "punt on third down" choice; he is an antithesis of change candidate.  Most men, winning their party's nomination for president, strive for something.  Reagan picked his greatest rival and a man who, by his resume at the time, already had a dizzying career.  Dubya picked a man who had already been Chief of Staff to President Ford, House Minority Whip, and Secretary of Defense during Desert Storm.  Mondale picked the first female vice presidential candidate and Gore picked the first Jewish vice presidential candidate.

Obama picked a colleague in the Senate, the most exclusive and elite elected body in the world, and he managed to pick a senator who actually makes Obama look good.  The senator from Illinois is playing defense.  He is waiting to win.  He is sweating out the weeks until November.  He has said, as loudly as he can, that he wants nothing at all to change in Washington.  Politics as it is, whether the Chicago machine or the Senate Club, is just fine with Barack Obama.  That is not so much evil or mad as it is pure Obama:  The essence of banality.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
Barack needed a surprise.  He has become so dull, that McCain looks exciting beside him.  So the Obama held us all breathless for a day or so while he studied the field of Democrats, publicly pondered different names, and then settled bravely on a stirring choice:  Joe Biden.  The sheer boldness of this is breathtaking.  Biden has been running for president almost since the Eisenhower Administration it sometimes seems, and he has been posturing as thoughtful man since he purloined the speeches of British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock twenty-one years ago.  The Delaware senator safely delivers his home state of Delaware and that is about all.

Clearly, Obama is playing for time (or Biden his time.)  His once-strong lead has vanished.  States once toss ups, like Missouri, have moved firmly into the McCain camp, and states once safely Democrat, like Wisconsin, are edging toward the toss up status.  All the signs point toward McCain momentum.  And so, Barack, who seems to lack a single new or clever idea, has decided that playing defense for the next one hundred days or so is the best political strategy.

Has Bob Dole been secretly advising the Obama?  Joe Lieberman, eight years ago, was an inspired choice.  John Edwards at least was youthful and Southern.  Cheney proved rock solid as a campaigner, whatever the Left may hoot about him now.  The last vice presidential nominee this lame was Jack Kemp.

The former Buffalo congressman had been great two decades earlier, when he was a very popular conservative politician in a blue collar Democrat stronghold, but by 1996 he had been out of electoral politics for decades and lacked the cachet of a young, vigorous man.  Senator Dole seems not to have noticed.  Obama seems not to have noticed that Biden also bloomed during the Reagan years.

The only thing politically that can be said about Biden is that he is safe.  Barack seems to be desperately thrashing about for safety now.  In Biden, Barack finds the ultimate politician.  Biden was elected to public office when he was twenty-eight years old and he has served as an elected official for the last thirty-eight years.  Only three Democrats in the Senate have served in that body longer than Biden: Robert Byrd, who is positively ancient; Teddy Kennedy, who was almost drafted for president in 1968 -- forty years ago; and Daniel Inouye, who has been a senator from Hawaii almost since Hawaii has been a state.  In the 209 year history of the United States Senate, Biden ranks as 20th in length of service among all states, all political parties in the history of the republic.   He has already served in the Senate longer than Bob Dole served.

Yet Biden has never been in the Senate leadership, never been elected by fellow Senate Democrats to any post beyond what seniority has required.  In his community, the Senate, Biden has never been Democrat Floor Leader or Democrat Whip or Democrat Conference Chair or Democrat Conference Secretary or Democrat Policy Committee Chair:  He was never been anything that required his fellow Senate Democrats to pick him out for a special honored position.

This cannot be because Biden was an outsider.  Not only has the senator been in the Senate almost forever, but because Delaware (anywhere in Delaware, really) is a relatively short drive from Washington, D.C.,  Biden has lived his entire adult life either working in Washington or living near Washington.  He has no idea at all what "Flyover Country" is, or what people believe there.  This is not a reflection, in particular, of Biden's ideological bent -- he is very liberal, but not very, very liberal -- as it is of his natural home, which is Washington or very close to Washington.  How can Obama bring change when he has selected someone who so very much represents "just the same"?

People will savage Biden, but there is no particular need to do that.  He is not the worst, not the most corrupt, not the most radical Democrat politician in America.  But Biden is, perhaps, the plainest vanilla Democrat in America.  The exceptional thing about him is that there is almost nothing exceptional about him, except that he has been a Washington politician for a long, long time. 

Which is to say that Biden is a dull man's choice; he is a "punt on third down" choice; he is an antithesis of change candidate.  Most men, winning their party's nomination for president, strive for something.  Reagan picked his greatest rival and a man who, by his resume at the time, already had a dizzying career.  Dubya picked a man who had already been Chief of Staff to President Ford, House Minority Whip, and Secretary of Defense during Desert Storm.  Mondale picked the first female vice presidential candidate and Gore picked the first Jewish vice presidential candidate.

Obama picked a colleague in the Senate, the most exclusive and elite elected body in the world, and he managed to pick a senator who actually makes Obama look good.  The senator from Illinois is playing defense.  He is waiting to win.  He is sweating out the weeks until November.  He has said, as loudly as he can, that he wants nothing at all to change in Washington.  Politics as it is, whether the Chicago machine or the Senate Club, is just fine with Barack Obama.  That is not so much evil or mad as it is pure Obama:  The essence of banality.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books:  Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie, and his recently published book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.