The "Windy Ticket"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Aug 23, 2008 12:00 PM
Listening to some of the campaign coverage of Joe Biden this morning, one would be tempted to believe that Barack had made one of the greatest veep picks ever.  Of course, favorable coverage is expected at this juncture.  But at risk of being the skunk at the garden party, many of the claims are simply mistaken, in my view.

As a general matter, if it's a bad thing that John McCain is 71 years old, supposedly too focused on foreign policy, and (as Obamaphiles like to claim) a "Washington insider," then why did Barack go out and choose a 66 year old running mate, whose supposed area of expertise is foreign policy, and who has an even longer tenure than McCain in the Senate but with fewer legislative achievements to his credit? 

More specifically, look at his alleged expertise when it comes to foreign policy.  Biden supported the war -- getting what Barack would characterize as the biggest "judgment" issue wrong.  Then he fecklessly tried to repeal the authorization he had supported, even as the war raged.  As even Mother Jones notes, Biden's plan to partition Iraq along sectarian lines (before the surge succeeded) could well have given rise to more, rather than less, ethnic conflict. 

We're also hearing -- as an alleged big plus for Barack -- about the fact that Joe Biden is a Catholic.  Not so fast.  So was John Kerry -- and yet he won a smaller share of the Catholic vote than Al Gore had.  Biden's Catholicism also allows for a discussion of how a supposedly practicing Catholic could embrace a pro-abortion rights extremist like Barack.

Last night, before the pick was announced, John King --sitting in for Anderson Cooper -- noted approvingly that Biden was the poorest guy in the Senate.  That was certainly true as of 2006; more recently, according to CNN, his net worth was minus $300,000.  Before anyone gets carried away with extolling Biden's common-manness, are we really supposed to trust with the federal budget a guy who's running a personal deficit, despite a Senate salary of more than $165,000 per year?  After all, in Obama's view, since Biden makes more than $150,000, he's more than middle class.  And if we're all going to play the house-size/class warfare game, judging from the looks of his mother's house on TV this morning, he shouldn't be hurting.

Finally, as bloggers will gleefully catalog in days to come, for someone who is supposed to impart "gravitas" to the Obama ticket, Biden suffers from a raging case of verbal dysentary. 

Perhaps there's some poetic appropriateness in a candidate from Chicago -- who's most notable for his rhetorical skill -- putting together the "Windy Ticket."