Debra J. Saunders

DENVER -- The goodie bag given to attendees of the Democratic National Convention includes maps, magnets and Dale Carnegie's Golden Book. The first principle for Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is: "Don't criticize, condemn or complain." No. 2: "Give honest, sincere appreciation."

Clearly Carnegie didn't write an opinion page column, but in that I think my original take on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's choice of running mate was a tad harsh, I would like to address what was positive about his choice of Joe Biden.

My first take? I felt the same as when I watched the end of the last episode of "The Sopranos." Let down. The go-to-black ending may have been nuanced, but as far as I was concerned, the producers punted. They chose a non-ending because they couldn't decide on a strong ending.

Yes, Biden is considered a statesman with strong foreign-policy credentials. He also comes across as a very decent man. He has been an effective senator, who could work with Democrats and Republicans alike.

Politically, however, not choosing Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate seemed a gratuitous way of insulting Clinton's close-to 18 million voters. Worse, it must have felt like rubbing salt into the wound to Clinton and her supporters when Obama passed her over for a man who, months ago, was shooting for a third- or fourth-place finish in Iowa -- then dropped out after he came in fifth, having failed to garner 1 percent of the vote.

There are more than 1,500 delegates pledged to Clinton in this town -- and you know what they say about women scorned. So, if you have to pick the Iowa horse who couldn't win, place or show -- well, first, hide the ashtrays.

Now for the honest, sincere appreciation part: It was gutsy for Obama not to pick La Hil. Maybe he didn't pick her because he doesn't like her. Or maybe he didn't pick her because his pollsters think that Clinton would cost him votes. Whatever the reason, if Obama loses, he will spend the rest of his life hearing that this is where he screwed up.

And it won't matter that Clinton ran a disorganized campaign, burned through $106 million before the first vote was cast and frittered away a solid lead. Clintonia will whisper that if the Dems lose the White House, then it will be because Obama didn't pick Clinton.

The upside of this gamble? If Obama wins, then he'll own the operation. He'll start with a clean slate.

Debra J. Saunders

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