Politrix: Insert Already-Clichéd Headline about “Biden Time” Here

Good morning, lovely people. I know y’all have been waiting with breath that’s bated to see what I think about Barack’s Veep pick, Joe Biden! Okay, so not really, LMFAO, but if you know me at all, you know that I’m going to tell you anyway.

But first, can I just say how exciting this whole thing is? You can call the text-message-in-the-middle-of-the-night situation a gimmick if you wanna, but you’d best believe I was glued to CNN on Friday night waiting to see if anyone broke the story-props to my boy John King, master of the Magic Wall, for getting the info and forcing the Obama camp to make the announcement a full 4 hours ahead of schedule-and then slept with both my cell phones next to the bed (I’d subscribed for the announcements to come to both numbers, and its good thing, too, because while my T-Mobile MDA sucked it, the good ole’ iPhone—3G, thanks—received the message at 4:03 am). Nevermind that I was up ’til 2:30 watching the glory that is Larry King, but I was up bright and early (okay, 11-ish) to watch the coverage leading up to the 3pm EST rally. These are wonderful times for a political junkie like your girl.

Anyway, back to Biden. So as I’ve written before, I picked Obama as my candidate while working on a big piece on the primaries last year. In the course of researching that piece, I obviously took a hard look at Biden’s platform, as he made his second bid for the presidency (he ran the first time back in ’88). So I broke out my notes from November to see what I really thought of him, before my view could be filtered through the prism of Obama’s approval. And it turns out that I liked how the guy thinks on most of the issues that matter to me.

JB on education: “My mother has an expression: children tend to become that which you expect of them. I want a country where we expect much from America’s children…. We know what we need to do: First, stop focusing just on test scores. Second, start education earlier. Third, pay educators more. Fourth, reduce class size. Fifth, make higher education affordable.” I dig it.

When it came to the economy, JB advocated for more green jobs, more comprehensive workers’ rights, increasing the minimum wage, protecting wages for folks working to rebuild New Orleans and extending family and medical leave rights. Yup, sounds good, even if it’s only a third of the economic puzzle.

On the issue of healthcare, he wished to insure all the babies, but took a more states’ rights (read: conservative) stance on the issue than Obama, saying we should leave the issue to them to create systems. While I understand his view here (he hopes that establishing a few good programs will provide templates that other states can use, and argues that states know their constituencies better than the federal government ever could), I think that it doesn’t go far enough, nor is it specific enough, to amount to more than the rhetoric about our broken healthcare system that has emerged in every election cycle since I’ve been old enough to pay attention (which, ironically, was the ’88 election when I voted for Michael Dukakis in my second grade class’s mock election).

He lost me when he voted to authorize the war, but had come around by the time he hit the debates: “It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly….We gave the president the authority to unite the world to isolate Saddam. And the fact of the matter is, we went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.” He also voted for the border fence (as did Obama), which I’ve always seen as a stupid, teeny-tiny Band-Aid for a huge boo-boo.

So, overall, I’m pleased. I’ve always said Obama needed to pick a white man to win this thing; I never for a second thought he would consider Hillary. Up until he took himself out of the running in July, I’d been thinking he’d go with Jim Webb, the decorated veteran and Junior Senator from Virginia who switched back to Democrat from Republican after 9/11. I think Biden is ready and willing to say the things Obama can’t, and he demonstrated that well at Saturday’s rally. He’s on the right side (that’s my side) of most issues, and he brings a ton of foreign policy expertise, as the chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It doesn’t hurt that he’s from Pennsylvania, a state we need to win this fall, and prefers to be called the solidly blue-collar “Joe.” And I don’t set much store by the Republican stance that picking an old head like Biden highlights Obama’s weaknesses; had he picked a younger, less-established candidate that embodied the change message, they would have had a field day with that, too. This is definitely the better position to be in; how can you really ridicule someone for having “too much experience?”

But I do think there will be some hurdles to jump: It’s not just Republican conjecture that Biden has said some damaging things about Obama, it’s true, and those very things will be used against this ticket in the coming months. Hell, it already started with McCain’s ad that ran on Saturday morning, in which Biden said Obama was not yet ready to be president. Not to mention the comments about Obama being “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Do I think his past comments are a deal breaker? Nope. I just think it means the Obama-Biden machine will have to work extra-hard. But from all the “donate now” emails I get every day, I can tell you that they are not afraid of a struggle. The real question is, are you?


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