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Not What He Advertised

John, you are right that Barack Obama isn’t going to get a transfusion of support in Pennsylvania or among blue collar voters by virtue of Joe Biden. To be honest, there are millions of voters who don’t know very much about him, will never see him on the stump and only vaguely remember he was an early dropout in the Democratic primary. Only in the politically-obsessed world in which we all operate is Biden an entirely familiar face.

Moreover, Biden is not all that pristine on the money front. Byron York reminds us that the Senator from MBNA isn’t exactly averse to lobbyists and their money. And just to add a little spice it turns out that Fred Baron, none other than John Edwards’ money man/girlfriend’s financial angel is a large Biden supporter. (The National Enquirer will no doubt fill in the gaps when the mainstream media yawns and asks no more questions about that.) You have to love this quote from Baron: “Joe Biden and I see eye to eye on the way this country should be run.” You’d pay money to watch Biden respond to that. (Especially because it’s Biden – the explanation could be several side-splitting paragraphs long.)

All of this goes to what Biden is not — help in the blue collar, populist battle Obama is trying to wage against John McCain. But even more interesting is the media’s recognition that Biden spells problems in other areas for Obama that are at the core of his present difficulties. Two of Politico‘s pundits list several, including this one which will come as a downer to The Chosen One’s groupies:

He’s a lot more conventional than advertised. Obama has promised a different and more consensus-oriented brand of politics but more often than not has done what most politicians do: switched positions to soothe voters, dodged the unpredictability of town hall meetings and gone for the jugular when he sees it. The Biden pick — the most important choice Obama has made to date in his public career — was safe and traditional. Two male career politicians from the Senate is hardly transformational.

So Biden’s selection aggravated the problem with Obama’s base (e.g. the whole New Politics meme is dying a slow and obvious death). That’s bad enough. But then Obama’s overriding worrying — he’s not passing Hillary’s 3 a.m. test — was highlighted for the entire punditocracy. The Politico duo explain:

He’s insecure about security. The Georgia-Russia crisis amplified Obama’s shortcomings on national security — both his own experience and the perceptions of voters about his own readiness for command. McCain is making that his calling card, and polls show it’s working. Biden offers Obama instant help: He knows this stuff and is more than willing to flaunt it.

Well in addition to providing the instant help, Biden, of course, makes plain that Obama is frantically in need of instant help.

The bottom line: Biden’s supposed benefits are ephemeral and his liabilities in magnifying Obama’s problems are very real. Perhaps that’s why they waited until 3 a.m. on Saturday to announce the pick. Only one more day to fend off that troubling reality before the Convention starts.



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