Sunday, August 24, 2008

OH NO! 0-8!: Wilmington Vice...

Nearly three months after clinching the Democratic nomination for President, Senator Barack Obama selected Delaware Senator Joseph Biden to be his running mate in this year's presidential election. Sen. Obama, after weeks of speculation, announced his choice at 3:00 a.m. via text message as a means to encourage more people to sign up on his website. The selection was confirmed later in the day at a rally featuring both Obama and Biden.

Since Obama became the presumptive nominee, questions as to whom he
would bring on as his running mate have been rampant, paralleling John McCain's own quest, which remains ongoing. With only two days until the Convention opens--that is tomorrow--Obama's time was running out, unless he wanted to throw it to the delegates who might stick him with Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Although Clinton had volunteered to be the number 2 on the ticket, the selection was always unlikely. Although the Democrats needed and still need some healing after Clinton's loss and supposed unfair treatment, it is doubtful that Obama would have felt comfortable with her as his running mate and later his Veep. The primary was tough and for a primary a bit nasty. That being said, he knows that he cannot live and cannot govern without her, hence her slot at the convention and support for paying down her campaign debt. Moreover, she will have a role during his administration, most effectively if that role is as a Senator.

For her sake, being Vice President would have left her with less power, less influence, and less attention. Moreover, Hillary was, as some have said half-joking, already Vice-President once. Since she played the best card at the end--conceding without pre-conditions and negotiating thereafter--her next move might be requesting that an Obama White House look to her to get things done in the Senate, especially where her pet issues like health care are concerned. Even without that position, she can do much more in the Senate and continue to make history. In this light, luckily Obama never seriously considered her.

Other possibilities were VA Governor Tim Kaine and IN Senator Evan Bayh. Kaine offered a more geographic advantage being a successful Democrat from the South. Bayh in the alternative provided Obama with a Clinton proxy as the Indiana Senator had been a major Clinton supporter. Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of KS, also provided the Obama team with a Democrat successful in a state not friendly to the Democrats. Before admission of his affair, former NC Senator John Edwards was considered. Even more wildly, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was thought to be a possibility, who like Dick Cheney was on Obama's VP search team.

Ultimately, Obama chose Biden, a wise choice. After it became clear very early on that the Delaware Senator could not win the nomination, he remained quiet, ostensibly endorsing nobody. Obama's explanation of having a ticket that is well rounded (completed by Biden's foreign policy experience) versus a geographic counterpart is quite wise. The Wilmington, DE resident is well respected by both parties for his experience with foreign affairs and his service on key Senate committees. Biden's life, if a little tragic, offers a different history from that of Obama, as well. Although a long-serving Senator does not necessarily fit well with Obama's change mission, if he is as close an advisor to Obama as more recent Vice-Presidents have been, many concerns about Obama's experience may be allayed.

Obama-Biden is quite a ticket, perhaps a well-devised union of old and new. How well we cannot say until after the convention, after McCain makes his choice, and after November 4th.
*Obama-Biden photo from wikipedia

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