Barack Obama’s selection of Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden as a running mate makes great political sense–but only if Obama wins. So, the logic is hard to assail with one obvious exception I’ll come back to. First, here’s why it’s sorta brilliant.
1. Biden is by far the most engaging public servant at work today, whether working a room or in a national debate. Watching him on TV, I’ve always been struck by his good sense, outspokenness and sense of humor, even when I’ve disagreed on the issues. Watch him get off the first one-liner, er, one-worder in a Democratic debate, if you don’t believe me.
2. His personal story’s every bit as engaging and dramatic as McCain’s POW story, without the taint of having been involved in military disasters and an unfortunate war in Vietnam. For a reminder, click here.
3. Biden balances Obama in an astounding number of ways. His maturity balances Obama’s youth. His working class background counters Obama’s elitist reputation. His off-the-cuff out-spoken-ness and passion balance Obama’s tendency toward over-sophisticated phrasing and lofty sentiment. Biden’s popularity among feminists and his solid legislative record in regards to women’s issues will offset the resentment some Hillarites still harbor for Obama. His willingness to engage in rough-and-tumble politics might stand in for Obama’s distaste for same. His northeast background complements Obama’s Midwestern holdings. I could go on.
Of course, the exception I refer to is what might be remembered one day as a missed opportunity. By bringing Hillary Clinton onto a so-called “Dream Ticket,” Obama would’ve solidified the Democratic vote, including those who made up half of the “undecideds” in recent polls, and could’ve made a considerable dent among Republican and Independent women voters. Such a choice might’ve been unstoppable.
In addition, by choosing Hillary, Obama certainly would have won over Bill Clinton, still the most popular Democratic president since Roosevelt, and the only one since then to win a second term. Could be that Obama resisted sullying his place in history by an association with the only modern president to be impeached. Yes, Bill can be a loose cannon as well, but that might be a good argument for anchoring him to the campaign.
Finally, bringing Hillary on would’ve made so much history, the story would’ve galvanized the world, including the American press and the public. The first ticket composed of a man of color and a woman. The resurgence of the Clinton brand. Bill’s vindication. The uniting of the party. Imagine the hoopla.
Yes there’s a down side to bringing all the Clinton baggage on board. Who donated to the Clinton Library? Would Bill and Hillary connive to leverage her position into an ungovernable power base within the administration?
Still, Obama/Clinton might’ve been an invincible ticket, and given the swiftness this month with which Obama lost his once substantial lead, he might rue the day he passed on Hillary.
Having said that, Biden’s a great choice, despite that caveat. If Obama wins, he’ll be glad he let Hillary slide.
Stay tuned. It’s getting excited.