Biden gets the nod


I always thought Joe Biden was a dark horse for VP, mostly because of what the NYT today characterizes as a directness that can be impolitic, but he clearly brings experience, both political and otherwise, and foreign policy credentials to the Democratic ticket.

Here's part of the explanation on why he got it:

“I think in his heart of hearts he thought in the end he wouldn’t get it,” said Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a friend. “During the vetting process you mostly hear why you wouldn’t be a good candidate,” he added, naming “the change issue” and “some of the things he said during the campaign.”

But Mr. Biden had some powerful patrons in his corner whose opinions Mr. Obama respected, like Mr. Rendell; Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus; and Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts — not only a respected Senate lion but also uncle to a senior member of Mr. Obama’s vetting team, Caroline Kennedy.

As the vetting team sorted through Mr. Biden’s financial statements, political statements and medical records, Mr. Obama’s top political aides — Mr. Axelrod chief among them — reached out to friends in Mr. Obama’s orbit to get a sense of what sort of politician Mr. Biden was. The results belied Mr. Biden’s reputation. Reports came back that he was not only potentially more energetic and disciplined than widely known, but also that he had a distinct appeal suited to the areas throughout the industrial Midwest where Mr. Obama had struggled in the primaries.

But Mr. Obama was seeking a running mate with whom he would be comfortable governing for four or eight years, a bit of advice Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts had given him.

Last December, Matt wrote about Biden in the Phoenix when the senator came to RI for an appearance:

Sounding this theme before his fundraiser, Biden proclaimed himself the national security candidate, asserting that problems in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are “are big-ticket items looking for grown-ups,” and that a winning presidential nominee needs to have “unimpeachable credentials on national security and foreign policy as well as a clear notion of how he is going to keep the middle class from rolling off the table. I am that candidate.”

While it will hurt Biden if the debate focuses on social issues, he also faces serious challenges on national security, since the Democrats’ large anti-war base will scrutinize his initial vote for the war and his subsequent refusals to call for a withdrawal of troops.

Biden has also been criticized by progressives for his support of the 2005 bankruptcy bill — a bill largely written by the credit card industry based in his home state. Sponsors asserted the bill was meant to stop careless consumers from running up high credit card debt and escaping payment. After having blocked the bill in previous years, Biden has said he felt that the bill included enough protection, including a safe harbor provision for low-income people and another requiring that child support payments trump creditor’s claims.   

However, Biden and other sponsors opposed amendments to separate credit debt from other kinds, such as those caused by identity theft, medical catastrophes, or the absence of a family member serving in Iraq. He also opposed an amendment to stop the so-called “millionaire’s loophole” in which wealthy individuals can avoid creditors’ claims. (Rhode Island joins Delaware as two of only five states that permit this loophole). Several potential rivals, including Clinton, criticized the failure of these amendments and the crackdown on low-income and middle-income debtors.

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