Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bye-Bye Biden?

No. But in a quick Google News search this morning I stumbled upon another blog commenting on this piece in Politico. The other blog, Daily Kos, made its assessment of an article that suggests Obama will likely search for a new Veep in 2012 thus:
"You would be hard pressed to find a more ham-handed example of concern trolling. Anywhere... And kudos to Politico for offering Hugh Hewitt the platform to spread this nonsense. It's very fair and balanced of them."
So I gave the article a shot. After all, this is my first real examination of any office in real-time, so someone suggesting the sitting VP might be replaced - and suggesting so only six months into a new administration - is quite interesting.

What's even more interesting, here - and believe me, I'm not defending Biden, neither am I against the man - is Hugh Hewitt's (the author of the Politico article) lack of understanding of how the VP works. Maybe he decided to go back to the good old days of FDR, where he changed Veeps twice. Or perhaps to Lincoln, who decided Hannibal Hamlin, who, as historian Steve Tally put it in our interview with him, "went home" instead of fighting, wasn't the best face forward for the Lincoln Administration. Or maybe - and this is more likely - he didn't research at all. Just assumed.

The problem with going back to a Lincoln or an FDR is that in their camps - and in FDR's case, among the majority of Americans - these guys were indestructible. FDR was elected four times, and Lincoln was reelected during a war. They were their day's equivalent of the teflon politician, and Obama, as slick and popular as he might be, isn't there, just yet.

Additionally, the Vice President, at least since Mondale, and definitely since Cheney, has become a man of power, at least in the right hands. Biden has experience and his own strengths, and, though he might not have much power at the moment, the office has that potential much more than in the days of FDR's three VPs.

Then there's consideration number three - Obama's image. He knows that much of the reason why he was elected was his passion, enthusiasm and intelligence. Who in their right minds, who is elected on the basis of their ability to judge the state of things, would put those integral qualities into question? He would essentially be saying "I made a mistake in choosing the man who could potentially replace me as the most powerful man in the country. As the country's first black president who anyone could predict would echo the Camelot years, I didn't at all think about the likelihood that someone might want to hurt me, so I chose some names out of a hat. Please excuse me while I wipe the drool off of my chin."

This is one case where Obama would be best suited - and it hurts me to say this - to take a cue from George W. Bush, should Biden prove the mistake this one radio host believes him to be. He shouldn't admit he was wrong. And the likelihood that he would - in this case, anyway - is low. What would we hear? We'd hear a lot of what we heard in the debates, just slightly reworded. Here's a little test - whenever you listen to Obama or Biden talk about one another right now, replace "The President" or "Joe" with "The Senator."

"Sure, Joe and I differed on some things, but our message was the same."
"The President and I have not always seen eye to eye, but that's the magic of the system. We can disagree and work together in perfect harmony."

However the administration actually feels about Biden and his role (likely very good, as he's thus far been a strategic first or second strike in PR, saying rather overtly what Obama only suggests might be true), they're keeping him. They need him, and, as W proved, they need consistency. They can admit all the mistakes they want, but you never admit your running mate was one of them - it shows you don't get people, and that you're short-sighted. Short of a sex scandal, they won't replace Biden. In this day and age, as they used to say "it just isn't done."

- Jason C. Klamm

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