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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Joe Biden: Obama’s Bare-Knuckled Blunderer (And How the Race Has Shifted)

The McCain campaign strategy in bringing Sarah Palin on as VP has worked brilliantly to this point. It caught Obama’s people flat-footed, it brought out the worst in her opponents and in some of Obama’s biggest supporters, and it completely stole the spotlight from the DNC. It was as if the left couldn’t even imagine McCain making the pick of a woman as a running mate.

Biden, in contrast, was a safe choice. He was meant to be Obama’s bare-knuckle fighter. Biden was supposed to solve the experience gap. Some people even called Biden a great pick.

Ultimately, he was meant to solve the problem of that famous 3 a.m. call.

During the media roar over Palin--a schizophrenic reaction swinging from digging in the dirt to treating her like a rock star--Biden has almost disappeared. Unfortunately for the Obama camp, when Biden does surface it’s by inviting a paraplegic, wheelchair-bound senator to stand and then admitting that he may not have been the best choice for the job.

“Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States. Let’s get that straight,” Mr. Biden said. “She is qualified to be president of the United States of America. She is easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America, and quite frankly, might’ve been a better pick than me.”

Strangely, I agree with him on at least one part of this: Hillary would have been a better pick.

The biggest mistake of the Obama campaign was in not finding a way to bring Hillary into his camp. It would have brought together a base of voters that would have nearly guaranteed a winning campaign. And to those people who say that there was too much tension between the two camps, I submit that you don’t have to like your VP pick to recognize the smart political choice. The only thing you have to do is trust them to act in to help carry your policies forward in office and trust that they will help you win the election. Hillary, out of a sheer sense of political self-preservation, would have done both.

No matter how you view the Biden pick, it was still a dumb thing to say and it gave even more ammunition to the Democrats’ opponents--the same opponents who grabbed onto Biden’s earlier statements about Obama’s lack of experience. Right now, small mistakes and tiny flubs are being magnified in no small part because the party of the left seems to be floundering and unsure of itself.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that some of Obama’s biggest supporters are becoming the GOP’s best (if inadvertent) friends.

Thanks, folks. From those of us on the right, I’d like to let you know that we appreciate your hard work.

While Obama may be laying claim to being the one, the only Gaffe-O-Matic, Biden has shown himself to be a bare-knuckled blunderer. He was meant to shore up Obama’s weaknesses, but, in retrospect, he’s just magnifying the sense that Obama isnt quite ready for prime time. Biden was an overly safe pick for a wildly exciting candidate--and likely an irreversible one.

I know some folks are suggesting that Obama will “throw Biden under the bus,” but that would be political suicide. It would be more evidence (especially in the face of McCain’s inspired choice) that Obama isn’t quite up to the job and a “me too” invitation to Hillary would be an offensive and desperate decision that would relegate Hillary to the position of token woman. Can anyone possibly imagine that it would help save Obama? I think it would damn him to also-run status.

The only way that Obama negates the Palin pick isn’t by switching his old white guy for a woman; he negates the Palin pick by discrediting the pick--which, of course, runs the risk of demeaning or diminishing women.

The McCain camp moved brilliantly to grab the media and the country. Obama will be walking a tightrope as he works to discredit Palin and risks angering women who had overwhelmingly supported him earlier in the election cycle. Not only that, but the Democrat’s presidential nominee is campaigning against the Republican’s vice presidential nominee--a situation that distracts the Obama camp from what is arguably the more important target, but also diminishes Obama to comparisons with the GOP number two. Biden, if he didn’t say crazy stuff like he did today, would be nearly invisible in the race at this point.

With just a few months to go, the GOP is working to consolidate small leads, take back some of the battleground states, and force Obama to spend more time and money in states that his folks probably considered safe.

Far left hand-wringing aside, nothing is decided. There is a lot of time for the race to tip one way or the other and it’s hard to predict whose voters will actually show up at the booth. While Obama tries to figure out the Palin puzzle, though, McCain has solidified a good portion of the Republican base and is making serious inroads in wooing independents to the cause.

But from a strategic standpoint, the Sarah Palin pick was a bold, exciting, and utterly brilliant bit of political maneuvering by the McCain camp--and that’s not even having discussed the message that it sends to the Republican party about the kind of leaders that the GOP is promoting right now.

Again I say: Palin - Jindal 2012.

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