I know the Obama people want Biden to help them win the parts of Pennsylvania he lost so badly to Hillary Clinton. But really, can the Obama campaign really sell a 65 year-old man as “that scrappy kid from Scranton” when Joe Biden moved out of Scranton, Pa., to suburban Delaware when he was 10 years old – in the year 1952? Are Pennsylvanians really that stupid?
Posts For: August 23, 2008
Many are saying Biden’s chief aim will be to reach out to working-class voters because he comes from the working class. But he hasn’t been in the working class since he was 18 years old, almost 50 years ago. And he has been a U.S. senator for the past 36 years. He’s not exactly a Man of the Lunchpail, and considering that his small state is the nation’s ninth wealthiest and has a very small working-class population, once again Democrats are making an assumption about Biden’s campaigning abilities based on hope rather than experience.
Ironically it wasn’t Joe Biden’s but Barack Obama’s gaffe that played into the McCain team’s hands. The McCain campaign is already out with the YouTube and the barb:
Barack Obama sounded as though he turned over the top spot on the ticket today to his new mentor, when he introduced Joe Biden as the next president. The reality is that nothing has changed since Joe Biden first made his assessment that Barack Obama is not ready to lead. He wasn’t ready then and he isn’t ready now.
Remember Biden isn’t the only one with the gaffe problem –neither of these guys should go anywhere without a teleprompter.
But personally, I think that wasn’t the worst of it for Biden. What’s with the wife comments?! Let’s remind ourselves that the number one problem the Democrats face is that half the Hillary Clinton voters aren’t sold on The One. So they send out the text message at 3 a.m. ( I share this and Noah’s take), don’t vet Hillary and jab at professional women? Great job fellas. And from the female perspective, my own take is that Biden reminds many women of their husbands who prattle on, won’t take the icy stare hint to pipe down and have to apologize a lot to the relatives for saying dumb things. The irritating “know it all” factor is very high with this duo.
Here’s Joe Biden, from October 30, 2007:
I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is, “Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, & after that we’re going to attack you. We’re going to take you down.” It’s a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They’re a decade away from being able to weaponize exactly what the question was, if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They’re far away from that. Number three, we’re going to – we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they’re going to be importing their crude oil. There’s much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I’d take it out.
Sounds good to me. I just wonder how Biden’s running mate feels about a preemptive strike.
I did not catch the entire speech, but what I did see left me with a sense that especially with Joe Biden, the Obama team should have given themselves much more prep time. For a campaign famously scripted and planned, this was a bit of a off-message, muddled start. Biden will do that to you. And they should have anticipated the spate of rather critical reviews and had a sharp retort to why Biden and “change” aren’t like oil and water.
John is right that the media is already in overdrive on the Biden-gushing. But does it matter? What we know is that mainstream media fawning has no correlation with real voters’ reactions. They kvelled over the Berlin speech, marveled at the ease with which Barack Obama followed his scripted interludes with heads of state and gasped in reverence at his nuanced answers to Rick Warren. But the public had a different reaction. None of these episodes helped and many, or all, arguably hurt Obama. By now we should know that there are no less reliable predictors of voter reaction than the mainstream pundit class.
Why? Aside from being hopelessly infatuated with The One, they do not represent the views, values or demographic attributes of voters actually in play. MSM pundits are generally liberal, urban, highly educated, nonreligious, obsessed with rhetoric, and lacking real world experience outside politics/media. In other words, pretty much like Obama. They show no inclination to explore any topic — the Mayor Daley machine, the Bill Ayers connection, Obama’s state senate record — that might throw the Obama narrative off balance. So the coverage is predictable and breathless, but utterly irrelevant. Other media and a surprisingly adept McCain team have broken their lock, if it ever existed, on campaign coverage. It seems the voters are pretty much on to them.
And if any real voters spent part of Saturday watching this, they might scratch their head as to why all the hoopla for that.
1. Why a text message in the middle of the night? The Obama campaign spent several days building a sense of mystery and anticipation around the VP nominee…only to drop the big news in the dead of night.
2. Why 3 A.M.? If this was a shot at Hillary Clinton, it’s anachronistic, not to mention self-absorbed and vindictive. If it was a reference to the 3 A.M. phone call ad, and thus an attempt at bolstering Obama’s national security credentials, it was irrelevant. How does making an important campaign announcement at 3 A.M. reassure people that Obama is ready to handle international crises? If anything, such a stunt underscores his inexperience and unseriousness.
3. Even if none of the above applies, and the 3 A.M. text message was a campaign novelty act, it still seems almost unbelievably contrived. The Obama campaign is suffering from the nearly 50 percent of Clinton supporters who are either undecided or leaning to McCain. Yesterday these voters were insulted by the revelation that the Obama campaign did not even bother to vet Clinton; and today they were insulted a second time by what many will take to be another petty affront. Obama should be going out of his way not to antagonize Clinton supporters. How could he have not predicted that the timing of his announcement would be perceived by Clinton Democrats as a slap in the face?
Altogether, one of the strangest incidents in the campaign so far.
A few weeks back, the Israeli media made a big deal about a mysterious arms acquisiton request that Israel had made to Washington, and that Washington had turned down. This weekend Ha’aretz reported that we’re talking about refuelling jets — a fairly clear sign that Israel is interested in moving forward with preparation for a possible attack on Iran, and that Washington is uninterested in anything of the sort — at least not before November. But then again, there’s nothing new here. US Administrations routinely try to prevent any major new international crises during the months before a presidential election. From the Bush administration’s perspective, there is no greater threat to American security than an Obama victory, and an attack on Iran really does carry risks of “instability” that could ricochet back against McCain.
From an Israeli perspective, however, there is only so far that American pressure can go in preventing Israel from acting if the Iranian technological timetable demands it. And just as US foreign policy is right now beholden to electoral concerns, so might Israel’s be, but in reverse – there is nothing, after all, like a major military crisis to potentially keep Olmert in power and make Israelis forget about Morris Talansky for a while.
This is entirely subjective, of course, and I was not its intended audience, but I think this event was a little like a balloon with a pinprick hole in it that began to deflate almost from the moment it began. The best moment was Obama summarizing Biden’s life story, and then it was followed by a half-hour speech by Biden that didn’t quite work and featured what ought to be worrisome signs for the Obama camp of Biden’s propensity for sliding off text in weird ways (as Daniel Halper notes above, he veered into a strange joke about his “drop-dead gorgeous” wife being a “doctor,” which is a “problem”).
Why is it a “problem” that Biden’s wife has a Ph.D.? Not sure; you would have to ask the senior Senator from Delaware, who just said that it was.
Biden calls the guy at the top of the ticket “Barack Omera.” The crowd starts to chant “O-ba-ma,” in order to offer a useful corrective.
He begins to shout: “When have Americans ever, ever, EVER let their country down when they’ve had a leader to lead them?” So does this mean Americans do let their country down when they don’t have a leader to lead them? And what does it mean to use the phrase “let the country down” in relation to the American body politic? At best it’s nonsense blather; at worst it’s quite disturbingly statist.
Interesting solecism by Biden here.
Yes, Obama began to introduce Biden as the “next president.”
UPDATE: Here’s the moment: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RElChQ6g2Io[/youtube]
Joe Biden “is a statesman who doesn’t have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong,” says Obama. Interesting, since “bluster” is just about the perfect word to describe Biden’s speaking style once he gets going.
Senator Barack Obama walked on stage in Springfield with the U2 song “City of Blinding Lights” playing in the background. Utterly appropriate, considering the first lines of the tune:
The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
Barack Obama is delivering a wonderful tribute to Joe Biden, heartfelt and moving — talking about the death of Biden’s first wife and daughter in a car accident that also left their two sons gravely injured, and deciding then that he would not move to Washington but would ride the train home every night to raise his kids in Wilmington. It’s so effective you would think Obama was the veep and Biden the man at the top of the ticket.
Chris Matthews, on MSNBC, sets the tone for the coming five days: “This looks like the best possible choice.” The Biden choice is the opening of a mainstream-media return to uncritical Obama coverage.
NBC’s Chuck Todd, following Matthews, discussed what a wonderful campaigner Biden is: “I saw him in Iowa. He got barely a percent of he vote [in the 2008 caucus], but he got four or five hundred people out to see him.” That anecdote tells a story almost the opposite of what Todd intends: It means that, at the end of a town hall meeting with Biden, Iowans were evidently less likely to vote for him than they might have been going in. As a senator from Delaware, Biden has never actually received more than a 165,000 votes in any of the six elections he has won.
There is, in poin of fact, no evidence whatever that Biden is the kind of politician who makes a direct personal connection with voters. But by Tuesday, mark my words, it will be gospel that he is a populist genius.
The McCain team is watching carefully no doubt as the Joe Biden roll out continues. They should keep in mind a number of things. First, those past comments attacking the nominee and/or his positions come in very handy. Second, there are grave risks with selecting a nominee who steps on your message ( in the case of Obama, “change” or “I don’t need no stinkin’ experience”). Third, the more your VP pick sounds and possesses characteristics of the opposition (and the more you hawk those attributes), the closer you come to endorsing the rationale for your opponent. Fourth, there is something to be said for “doing no harm.” (The fun of Biden is that part of the harm is yet to come when he spends day after day unscripted on the trail.)
So if the McCain camp internalizes some of these lessons they may conclude it is best to find someone as consistent as possible both on policy and in persona as John McCain himself, someone who doesn’t bear similarities to the Obama faults they are now ripping ( flip-floppery, lack of authenticity and candor), and someone who hasn’t insulted McCain in juicy ads and debate appearances. In other words, it is sort of an object lesson in not selecting Mitt Romney. But we’ll see.
With Joe Biden you can add to the list of themes that have gone by the wayside for Barack Obama: “experience doesn’t matter.”
A sampling of all the fun things ahead with a Biden VP pick. The most effective part of the new McCain ad? That chin-in-the-air, arrogant Obama expression. That’s plain luck to get it on the same shot as the Biden comment.
Things like this give the Congressional Republicans hope that they can keep the losses to a minimum.
“Celebrity news” — the Obama purse. Pretty sure this isn’t a clever McCain ad. Not yet.
Michael Kinsley must be out to build Republicans’ self-esteem, accusing them of “genius, courage, creativity and utter ruthlessness” in presidential politics. The real secret? Luck — the Democrats seem to have a knack for finding the worst candidate. Really a 1.4% lead in this political year?
Not everyone thinks George W. Bush is responsible for every bad thing in the world: “I know that many folk will prefer to point fingers at Bush — this mistake and that — but the fact is that Moscow has acted in the last two weeks in a continuous and logical extension from its aggressive politics over the last few years.”
Obama’s so-called money advantage not only doesn’t seem to matter, it’s not real. And the DNC is reduced to fibbing about their fundraising. And apparently it is time to stop wasting some of that money on some faux battleground states.
Playing the Rezko card: Lynn Sweet asks why John McCain would succeed when Hillary Clinton did not. Aside from the Clintons being defective messengers on any ethics issue and the press never really spending much time on it during the primary (too busy defending The One), voters have a funny way of getting serious when they vote for the President as opposed to a nominee.
Victor Davis Hanson gives Obama advice he’ll never (but should) receive: “Barack! You are running for the top job in America, so when you mention the U.S., or its history, just dispense with the Harvard qualifiers, the howevers and buts, the oppression studies talking points, the morally equivalent cute examples, the tangled legal nuances, and professorial huffing, and simply say nice things about your country, and if you can’t, don’t say anything at all about it. The voters know that you believe America is not perfect, but they don’t know whether you believe it is good.”
Former prosecutor Andy McCarthy delivers the closing argument on Obama’s record on the Born Alive Infants legislation: “So he has lied about what he did. He has offered various conflicting explanations, ranging from the assertion that he didn’t oppose the anti-infanticide legislation (he did), to the assertion that he opposed it because it didn’t contain a superfluous clause reaffirming abortion rights (it did), to the assertion that it was unnecessary because Illinois law already protected the children of botched abortions (it didn’t — and even if it arguably did, why oppose a clarification?).” Read what Obama said at the time. Chilling.
Were pundits’ expectations too high or is Obama just a terribly flawed candidate? I vote for the latter.
Huffington Post has a point: the “santuary manison” really was one of Rudy Giuliani’s better lines.
John McCain largely has avoided hot button social issues to the consternation of some in the conservative base. He has ignored the brewing controversy over Barack Obama’s Born Alive Infants legislative voting record and he hasn’t made much comment on the highly successful (for him) Rick Warren forum. That all seemed to end with Saturday’s radio address.
First, he went straight at Obama’s “above my pay grade” response to Warren’s question about when life begins/”babies get rights.” He zeroed in on this particular answer, but he also broadened it to make a larger point about Obama’s candor and character. McCain explained:
Here was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, asked for his position on one of the central moral and legal questions of our time, and this was the best he could offer: It’s above his pay grade. He went on to assure his interviewer that there is a, quote, “moral and ethical element to this issue.” Americans expect more of their leaders. There seems to be a pattern here in my opponent’s approach to many hard issues. Whether it’s the surge in Iraq that has brought us near to victory, or the issue of campaign reform, or the question of offshore drilling, Senator Obama’s speeches can be impressive. But when it’s time for straight answers, clear conviction, and decisive action, suddenly all of these responsibilities are — well, as he puts it, “above my pay grade.” As mottos of leadership go, it doesn’t exactly have the ring of “the buck stops here.”
But McCain didn’t stop there. He explained (to those who may have been deprived of any meaningful MSM coverage) the Born Alive Infants legislative history and then argued:
At Saddleback, he assured a reporter that he’d have voted “yes” on that bill if it had contained language similar to the federal version of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Even though the language of both the state and federal bills was identical, Senator Obama said people were, quote, “lying” about his record. When that record was later produced, he dropped the subject but didn’t withdraw the slander. And now even Senator Obama’s campaign has conceded that his claims and accusations were false.
Why has McCain decided to go after Obama on these points, and why now? Several reasons, I think. First, he is forcing the MSM to cover issues they don’t want to and haven’t covered except in passing. The combination of Edwards-itis (the disinclination to cover bad stories about Democrats) and VP-mania has resulted in practically no public discussion and coverage outside the blogosphere and conservative media on the Born Alive Infants issue. McCain is upping the ante and putting a spotlight on it. Second, McCain has figured out that these are issues of moral character which go beyond pro-choice and pro-life divisons. How forthright is Obama when it comes to tough issues? How honest has he been about his past record? He thinks voters may conclude ” not very.” Third, he believes that Obama’s positions are so extreme that even generally pro-choice voters will recoil if presented with some basic facts about his opponent. (“His extreme advocacy in favor of partial birth abortion and his refusal to provide medical care for babies surviving abortion should be of grave concern to reasonable people of goodwill on both sides of this issue.”) And finally, the McCain camp has every intention of doing whatever they can to rain on the Democrats Convention. This is one of many salvos I expect to see this upcoming week. They don’t intend to give Obama a free pass.
Will this work? Time will tell, but when the MSM is avoiding issues that shed doubt on the character, veracity and purported “moderation” of a Democrat, chances are that his Republican opponent would be wise to pursue them.