At last, after a build-up reminiscent of the Super Bowl, Senator Barack H. Obama has chosen his Vice Presidential nominee. In some ways the selected of Delaware Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was a surprise. It was a surprise because it somewhat mitigates Obama's call for change. A Senator who has held office since 1972, Biden hardly qualifies as a change agent. It was not a surprise because Obama is badly lacking in foreign-policy credentials. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, Biden has credentials in spades. This is important to Obama. A reason he has been slipping in the polls is that the public has doubts about his ability to handle an international crisis. Biden sends a signal that he will be able to influence Obama in that respect. In fact, Obama said he wants Biden to speak up and tell him when he thinks he (Obama) is wrong. You can count on Biden to do just that.
Biden also will help Obama because he is an attack dog. He will go after McCain without reservation, thus enabling Obama to take the high road. His age also helps Obama. The first-term Senator from Illinois is considered too young by some of the electorate. Biden adds to the ticket some gray hair to reassure voters.
However, Biden also has liabilities. His long record in the Senate means he will be called on to justify votes he cast in the 1970s. McCain also has served a long time but Biden beats him by 14 years. In addition, Biden has a well deserved reputation for shooting from the lip. No doubt the Obama people will do their best to try to reign in their Number Two. But Biden is Biden. If he could go a couple of months without saying something to offend someone it would be absolutely remarkable. Of course, McCain has been known for his hot temper. However, not once since he returned from the political dead to become the presumptive GOP nominee has McCain blown his top. So perhaps if McCain can be that restrained Biden can as well.
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