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November 21, 2007

Biden For Veep!

Interesting article in the Times about what a troubled relationship John Kerry and John Edwards had. It's a reminder of the sort of campaigner Edwards was for the ticket: Relentlessly optimistic, scared to go negative, and basically weak. And it bears almost no resemblance to the campaign Edwards is running now.

So, in that way, it's not terribly illuminative. But it's interesting as a cautionary tale on how you pick a VP. In retrospect, Edwards was a terrible choice for Kerry. He highlighted Kerry's absent charisma, his lack of charm, his Massachusetts mannerisms. He was picked for his the qualities that would have made him a good presidential candidate, not qualities that made him a good vice-presidential candidate, or helped make Kerry better nominee.

The eventual nominee needs the VP to do the sort of aggressive campaigning Edwards wouldn't. Which is why I'm increasingly finding myself a big proponent of Biden for vice-president. Biden's long and communicable experience on foreign policy and ability to deride and dismiss Republican claims to expertise on the subject both amplify any argument of experience and demonstrate a bareknuckle tendency that someone on the ticket will need. Right now, he's the only one in the race who seems to have figured out how to puncture the Right's national security pretensions, and so the most useful in the #2 slot. And that is something the Democratic ticket will need to do. So c'mon: Tell me you don't want to see this patter throughout the election:

November 21, 2007 | Permalink


I will admit to being perplexed by this line of thinking.

If you think Biden is politically suitable to have on a presidential ticket as the VP nominee, why don't you give him serious consideration for the top job?

Posted by: wisewon | Nov 21, 2007 1:23:20 PM

Biden is a douche-bag overall. Don't look at the past month -- look at how he undermined anti-war Dems / supported Bush over the past 5 years. Do a search on "Biden" at Atrios'.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 | Nov 21, 2007 1:24:31 PM

Biden's 1988 Presidential candidacy may have been legitimate. And there might, just might, have been reason for him to test the waters in 2004. But after 1988 and 2004 he enters gadfly territory and that doesn't impress me. In fact he is in serious gadfly territory right now and he should pull out to give the big 3.5 more breathing room but he doesn't. So that impresses me even less.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Nov 21, 2007 1:27:46 PM

Everything I wrote here is about Biden as a campaigner. That's rather a different set of qualifications than to be president.

Posted by: Ezra | Nov 21, 2007 1:27:55 PM

Interesting-- I'd be curious to hear what set of qualifications he's missing that makes him second tier after Clinton/Obama/Edwards.

Posted by: wisewon | Nov 21, 2007 1:34:07 PM

This comment contains no comment. Or does it?

Posted by: Pinko Punko | Nov 21, 2007 1:39:25 PM

You've got to be kidding. There are two democrats in the race who will not get my vote under any circumstance. The second is Joe "Bend Over" Biden.

Posted by: Jim W | Nov 21, 2007 1:42:59 PM

nope -
Clinton/Richardson 08

all the foreign policy cred of Biden, plus the mountain state cred. the only downside he has is some sexist charges against him which are washed out by the fact that the pres on his ticket is a woman. (unless it reminds people too much of her hubby)

Posted by: yep | Nov 21, 2007 1:49:23 PM

You want the *perfect* VP candidate?

Al Gore.


Posted by: The Confidence Man | Nov 21, 2007 1:55:05 PM

The Times story is also cautionary on Edwards' credibility on Iraq in 2008 as well as 2004.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly | Nov 21, 2007 1:58:33 PM

It is a little unclear to me how a person can be a good enough campaigner for VP (and by his own actions President) but not be strong enough to actually be President. But even stipulating that the nation cannot afford a VP who is too weak to be President. If for no other reason than he _might be_ President at some point, but also because the next Administration has tons of work to do.

There is also the Bankruptcy Bill to explain.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Nov 21, 2007 2:07:09 PM

I'm a big Biden basher as well, but I find myself persuaded by Ezra here. Taking a more traditional approach to the VP slot could be helpful. That is, finding someone who will help you win the campaign and then do pretty much nothing else except (if you choose to let him/her) help you get re-elected. Call it the Lloyd Benson corollary of presidential politics.

Also, a Biden VP would get Biden and his bankruptcy bill support out of the Senate. The DEL governor is a Dem so we'd keep the seat. (The assumption here being that the appointee would be better than Biden on consumer protection; that may be deeply naive.)

Posted by: Peter | Nov 21, 2007 2:10:28 PM

I think Biden would be fine as president, but he's not my first choice. I think he would be a very good VP -- good campaigner, able to puncture the Right's primary political argument, broad and deep relationships in the Senate, enough foreign policy experience to act as a useful envoy and representative. The VP is, at this point, its own job, and requires slightly different qualifications.

Posted by: Ezra | Nov 21, 2007 2:14:04 PM

Reading that over, it comes across as saying that Benson would not have been a good president. I should have phrased it differently, since Benson would probably have been a fine president. I only wanted to highlight his skill as a campaigner.

Posted by: Peter | Nov 21, 2007 2:14:54 PM

If Hillary wins the nomination Biden as VP would be too conservative. It seems so unlikely that the GOP candidate would win this year that you should not care if he is a good campaigner.

Posted by: Floccina | Nov 21, 2007 2:18:14 PM

You want the *perfect* VP candidate?

Al Gore.

Not again-- he's not carrying anyone else's luggage at this point in his life, and why should he?-- but in 1992 he absolutely hit that sweet spot in between being presidential material himself and acing the VP campaign role. Edwards wouldn't have understood that function in 2004, I imagine, or have had the political discipline to fulfill it even had he understood.

Personally, I want an heir-apparent VP, because we need the WH for twelve consecutive years at minimum (my hopes were for Gore-Obama, alas). I don't think we're going to get that with HRC, for a variety of reasons, but we shouldn't ever nominate a VP who can be seen as senior to the person at the head of the ticket, or one who will be too old to run in eight years.

Posted by: latts | Nov 21, 2007 2:22:16 PM

What latts said.
The VP slot should go to someone who can step up as president at the end of a second term. Part of the problem the repugs are having is that VP Cheney couldn't be the heir - he's too old. So they have to resell their GOPer crap to the base all over again.

Posted by: CParis | Nov 21, 2007 2:29:27 PM

latts, I hear what you're saying, but I don't think you quite understand the post-Cheney role of the VP (and, by extension, the VP candidate). Gore wouldn't be carrying anyone else's luggage as VP candidate -- he'd be (as Ezra implies) the designated attack dog, and would be running with an eye to the Cheneyesque fourth-branch portfolio he'd be assigned by the person at the top of the ticket: to wit, in Gore's case, environmental/energy policy (with a likely seat at the table in defense/intel issues). In order for Gore to agree to be anyone's VP candidate, he'd need to be given assurance that he would, in fact, have such a post-Cheney fourth-branch portfolio.

The question, really, isn't so much would Gore do it, as it is, Would any not-as-dumb-and-naive-and-lazy-as-W Dem candidate agree to cede such autonomy to Gore? And certainly given Gore's history with Hillary, that's pretty unlikely.

I think, however, that it would be hugely in Hillary's longer-term interest to do so: think about the boost that she would get (and I'm not exactly a big fan of Hillary for the nomination) by jointly announcing, with Gore at her side, that Gore would be her VP nominee. She'd pretty much end the primary contest right there.

And are you saying that Gore would *not* be ready to take over in '17? He might be a little on the old side, sure -- of course, if he is wildly successful in managing his VP portfolio '09-12, he could step down midway through the second term to allow an up-and-comer to step in for confirmation as the heir-apparent.

Posted by: The Confidence Man | Nov 21, 2007 2:50:14 PM

I would put the odds of accepting VP under Hillary right up there with the odds of the earth's atmosphere undergoing spontaneous stochastic cooling(1).


(1) that is when all the cold molecules just happen to collect in one area. Every molecule of air in the atmosphere.

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Nov 21, 2007 3:01:43 PM

That should be

..."the odds of Gore accepting VP"...



Posted by: Cranky Observer | Nov 21, 2007 3:02:48 PM

I don't want to see this patter throughout the election.

Posted by: chuck | Nov 21, 2007 3:05:11 PM

I would argue that Hillary has already decided on Biden as a top pick for VP. To buttress my suggestion, take a closer look at the last debate. In particular, watch body language between Biden and Hillary, and listen closely when they refer to each other. They reinforce each other's points on more than one occasion.
My wife, who is a Sociologist, and reads people's unspoken intent for a living, caught this immediately.

Posted by: Blue Steel | Nov 21, 2007 3:06:43 PM

I don't think you quite understand the post-Cheney role of the VP (and, by extension, the VP candidate)

Yes, I do, and I think we need to ditch that model ASAP. We can do without the creepy uncle/agent type, after all, and we absolutely should not leave any room to imply that the presidential candidate is not completely in charge.

Of course Gore could take over any time between now and the day they shovel dirt over him; he was more ready than Bill Clinton was in 1992 and now has the international stature of a beloved former president without even having had the job. Being VP again would just be an insult and, as you (and Cranky, more entertainingly) noted, impossible given an HRC nomination.

Posted by: latts | Nov 21, 2007 3:15:15 PM

Biden for VP? I don't see where he brings a single vote to the front of the ticket. The Democrats need to figure out how they are going to insure victory in FL, OH and other states that Kerry didn't carry in '04. Obama for VP could help energize the black vote and pull in Border states as well as forcing Repubs to play defense in the Deep South.

Similarly Richardson could add Southwestern states NM, AZ, NV or even FL.

Jim Webb could move VA, NC, and TN into theBlue column as well as adding security cred to the ticket and appealing to Reagan Democrats.

Any of these is a more logical pick than the Senator from MBNA.

Posted by: AndyS | Nov 21, 2007 3:21:49 PM

I am sincerely swayed by Ezra's reasoning. Go, Biden!

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree | Nov 21, 2007 3:28:54 PM

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