For once, the conventional wisdom got it right: Barack Obama did select Joe Biden, widely presumed to be the front-runner in the veepstakes. His strengths have been well-documented: He's experienced -- especially in foreign policy -- and he's a Catholic who may help the Democrats in the industrial states that will decide the election. He's a fiery speaker too.
But he comes with some downsides. With this pick, Obama hasn't helped himself in any states (he was already going to carry Delaware with all of its 3 electoral votes) and he hasn't expanded the map. Carrying Virginia, for example, seems farther away than ever. Biden is also prone to verbal gaffes and in a presidential campaign, they can derail the whole express.
He's also on record as saying that he admires McCain and that Obama isn't ready to be president. In the old days, it was easier to get around such things but in the You Tube age, expect to hear and see these quotes again -- even in commercials. And, to this observer at least, Biden has always come across as a bit angry and "lecture-y" -- it's hard to see how this will help with women.
In the end, if the experience path was the way Obama wanted to go, the feeling here was always that he should pick Dick Gephardt or Bill Bradley. But it could have been worse. The problem for Obama is that expectations for him have always been so high among some of his core supporters that anyone he picked would be a disappointment.
A NOTE AN HOUR LATER: As predicted, McCain is already up with an ad repeating Biden's comments criticizing Obama and praising McCain. No one said this was going to be easy.