Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Biden a strong, astute choice. It’s the choice of a confident man who’s not desperate to carry one more state. It connects Obama to the Democratic establishment and to non-bobo (bourgeois bohemian) currents in his party’s tradition. It’s the choice of a boring, blowhard white guy who couldn’t be more experienced. Obama’s task, to repeat, is to show that he’s not a crazy extemist, that his brand of change is safe. His choice of Biden will suggest that to at least some voters, including some of the working class, white Hillary primary voters. Of course Biden has plenty of warts, but they’re already displayed in neon letters for all to see, and it’s very unlikely that new ones will be discovered. Let’s hope McCain can do as well in connecting himself to his party.

WEEKEND UPDATE: Everyone should read Rob’s smart and challenging post below. I’m using my awesome NLT power to respond to here. Where’s the panic? The boring white guy scenario of Biden or Bayh has been there for months, and I’ve always thought it was the way for him to go. Biden is a bit better because of his foreign policy "leadership" and because he’s the less boring of the two. Hillary or Kaine or some gimmicky guy or gal (such as Wesley Clark or the woman from Kansas) would have been panic choices. Of course Obama couldn’t really like Biden that much. He chose with his head, not with his heart, contrary to the advice (we read) of the lovely Mrs. Obama. But I haven’t seen much real evidence (contrary to what he says) that Obama has much of a heart (and I mean that as Machiavellian praise). He’ll do, as he says, what he has to do to win, and Machiavellians don’t panic (and there is, objectively, not that much reason for him to do so, although he should be concerned that he’s been unable to seal the deal). Biden is boring and silly some of the time, but to be really fair and balanced, he was often pretty good in the pre-primary debates. He is certainly more charming than Bayh. Anyone who remembers and is bothered by (like me) Biden’s performance in the Clarence Thomas hearings is not a likely Obama voter. What Obama himself said about Thomas was more of cheap shot than anything I remember Biden saying, and probably studies have shown Obama that taking shots at Thomas is a good way of energizing his base.

I got a really mean private email criticizing me for saying good things about Obama strategy. But I really think the tendency among conservatives is to underestimate this guy. McCain is going to have to be really savvy to be competitive, and I really do want Mac to win. (And I just read Pete’s comments--which are very similar to and more pithy and eloquent than mine.)

Discussions - 24 Comments

I have to say, Peter, that to me it looks more like the panic spoken of by Schramm below. He couldn't really have wanted Biden, who is a has been and a never was, and who showed his bad character during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Biden is boring and silly, and will wear as poorly as Obama is, in my humble.

Biden was probably his second best choice (I'd have preferred Bayh). I've read some commentators write that if Obama had been confident he would have picked Kaine. Sure. Their motto could have been "No experience, No acoomplishments, No Problem"

Obama needs help with two groups of voters. Working class voters who voted for Hillary and swing voters who voted for Bush in 2004 and feel burned. Biden probably helps some with both groups. We are going to hear alot about Biden's working class background. Biden's status as a foreign policy elder stateman might reassure swing voters who have soured on Republican rule but are leery of Obama as Commander in Chief and Chief Diplomat.

Conservatives should not get too confident that Biden is an easy target.

Biden is verbose but vice presidential Candidates (as long as they are Democrats) get alot of leeway. When was the last time a Democratic presidential candidate was hurt by the stupid or silly coments of their running mate?

Biden really was a duplicitous jerk during the Bork, Thomas, and even the Alito hearings. The problem is that the only people carrying a grudge about Biden regarding those hearings aren't voting for Obama anyway and I really doubt the public is very interested in rehashing Biden's behavior.

Biden was critical of Obama during the primaries. Conservatives hope this can be used Obama. Maybe. But George H.W. Bush was alot more critical of Reagan during the 1980 Republican primaries (Voodoo Economics and all that) and that didn't hurt the Republican team.

The Biden choice will so offend conservatives (Rush was praying for him to be the pick on Friday) that McCain no longer has worries picking up support on the right. There is too much inside baseball on this. Biden functioning as GWB's Cheney? Two senators will reinforce each other's vices, not complement their virtues.

Ken, Biden might be a bit of Republican base energizer if Mac counters with a choice that they think of as genuinely conservative. But Obama wouldn't give VP Biden much to do, except hang out some with foreign leaders.


I said before Obama sealed the nomination that whether it was Hillary or Obama, ---------------------- the VP pick would either be Biden or Bill Richardson.

Biden was ALWAYS the obvious pick, ------------- in fact, with the reemergence of foreign affairs in the campaign, {the invasion and attempted absorption of Georgia}, he became the ONLY pick for a guy like Obama, who is hopelessly out of his depth when it comes to national security.

The Democrats are soon going to regret that Biden isn't at the top of the ticket, ------------------------------ but they had their chance, they could have made a serious selection, instead they went for their Leftist fantasies, chose an unready poseur, ---------------------------------------- and are going to see their hopes crushed come the Fall.

Doesn't this simplify McCain's job. Yes, he'll have to pick someone fairly conservative for the convention. Yet for the general election, all McCain has to do is focus on an articulate VP choice who can effectively puncture the gasbag in debate and on the campaign trail.

Any suggestions?

Second try:

My first reaction to the Biden appointment was "boring" -- thanks to Peter, I understand why that's not so bad for Obama and really, not so bad for us in the event his team wins. "Boring" beats scary.

I'd pick Santorum.

Santorum would place front and center an issue Republicans have ALWAYS won national elections on of late, --------------- and that's the judiciary. Who better than Santorum to drive home the dangers of a runaway judiciary.

Who better to speak about the radical, {nay, the in truth horrific} scale of Obama's positions on abortion.

Who better to galvinize Conservatives.

Who better to discuss Tehran?

Who better to place in contrast for American Catholics the STARK divide between the two tickets.

One thing more, Santorum is a SERIOUS selection. And because he can't be said to be able to "deliver" Pennsylvania, {though I think he puts Pennsylvania in play}, it would be clear that McCain made a pick that flowed from a SERIOUS deliberation, and not a political calculation. Though there would be political advantages.

One thing more too. Santorum is a TOUGHMINDED man. A ticket of McCain/Santorum is a ticket that clearly wins the testerone duel, and that's a ticket that all of America sees as two Alpha males who don't want for nerve.

Part of the reason why Obama is dropping in the polls is that Americans have rightly sensed he's weak, as VDH has termed it, he's an unready "metrosexual." Such creatures may cut it on the red carpets of this world, but not in the corridors of power.

Biden is clearly going to be the attack dog, allowing the false messiah to continue to walk on the water.

Republicans had better damn well make sure they have their own attack dog in this brawl, ----------------------------------- and MITT ROMNEY AIN'T IT!

Kate, The problem is that my suggestion would be Bobby Jindal. I don't think Pawlenty or Lieberman (he stunk last time he ran for VP) would decimate Biden. Romney I think might look more competent and less verbose but probably no less boring. Santorum might make Biden look bad, but obviously he's not going to get it. Obviously Biden doesn't shine as a const. scholar, but who do the Republicans have who can? McCain isn't going to pick Roberts or Scalia or Thomas, although each of them looks better to me than those on the short list.

Santorum for VP? That would be hilarious, but the U.S. has moved past its kook-fundamentalist phase. But describing him as serious and toughminded? C'mon. I applaud his working on behalf of the poor, but the guy amassed a collection of some of the dopey-est things ever said. He rivals Bush in sheer brainlessness meriting a diagnosis of anosignosia. Check out the old site One riff on his 'Intelligent Design' ideas or his amendment to Title IX would confirm his having been voted the stupidest person in Washington. His book was so dumb it was panned by Christianity Today. The press and blogs, left and right, would crush him.

No one should send Peter mean e-mails, certainly not for the silly reason he thinks Obama's strategy is a good one. It's not like Lawler could elect the guy! But Peter, look, it's obvious the original plan was to run Barack himself as the foreign policy wunderkind, as the magical mystery tour makes plain. He really did think he could take Virginia, so then why not take his soul brother Kaine. Or why not cement the Kansas narrative and go for the Hillary women by dancing with Sebelius. The Biden choice is a much more defensive one. Go for the narrow electoral victory that eluded Gore and Kerry. I think the inner circle thinks they would lose if the election were held today, and they went off game plan, for the reasons you in fact suggest. BUT, they have just saddled themselves with an aging lightweight, who in fact does not wear well and is prone to silly statements. And Richard Adams is right, Biden not only lied to Thomas but crudely misrepresented his statements as well. So Ken is right too--this will only add to the galvanization of the anti-Obama vote. One thing Peter is right about. Biden is popular among the more moderate liberal academics--for some reason. But has he ever polled well among the liberal hoi polloi? Last, thanks for the compliment!

The word now is thar Kaine and Sebelius were nixed for being pro-life.

My wife assures me, what I have read, that Sebelius is militantly pro- abort. Reference?

My source was Fox news, which turns out to have been wrong. She's Catholic but being denied communion for being pro-abortion.

There is a hint of ambiguity in her abortion record, compared to, say, Obama's. Nevertheless, I erred by trusting Fox. I just googled S. for a few minutes--not impressed, wouldn't have been a good choice.

Yeah, can't be that hard to find a pro-abort "cultural" Catholic. But that IS what this is largely about.

Stertinius, you're going to be "wailing and gnashing your teeth" come the Fall, when you see America get past her "kook" Jeremiah Wright "fundamentalist" phase, as well as get past the stale black liberation theology.

Do you have any idea how bizarre it is to watch you attack Rick Santorum for his thoroughly mainstream Catholicism, ---------- and all the while leave unaddressed the racism, the hate, the heresy oozing from the pulpit where Obama went for "spiritual" sustenance.


And as for Santorum being "serious" and "toughminded," ------------- well, all you had to do was watch him square off against empty suit Bob Casey in the Senate debates, or all you had to do was merely observe with what seriousness he spoke to the issues of the day during his last Senate campaign.

Santorum lost Pennsylvania because of Bush, and for no other reason. Take a look at the number of Republicans who lost seats during the '06 go-round. That tells you everything you need to know.

PETER, the job of the VP pick isn't to square off against his opposite number.

His job is to hammer the leader of the opposition ticket.

I subscribe to the rather traditional notion that the VP pick is to act like a Pit Bull, ripping and tearing into the opposition. If he can put a state in play, -------- fine. If he can actually deliver an important state, ---------- well that's great. But that's over and above his base duties, foremost of which is to rip apart the leader of the other party's ticket. I'm putting it rather graphically, but you guys get the gist.

CAN ANYONE recall where a VP pick cost a candidate a state, or several states?

When was the last time a VP pick could be said to have cost someone an election?

Santorum lost Pennsylvania because of Bush, and for no other reason.

Wasn't it the biggest loss for a Senate incumbent in nearly 30 years? That was all from Bush? I'm not sure I buy that. His book, his odd comparisons of Iraq and terrorism to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, his staunch opposition to any other belief than his own, the whole Terri Schiavo thing (I mean . . talk about an intrusive federal government) . . .

I think lots of factors were involved, Bush included. But I don't think that's the only reason . . .

Yea, it was Bush. When so many Republicans were defeated, in so many districts, so many states, so many races, --------------- then we need to look for a common denominator.

I don't know MATT if you're from Pennsylvania, but I am, and Casey didn't run against Santorum, he ran against Bush. In fact he didn't "campaign" at all. Did you know that he only scheduled one, JUST ONE public event per week, and that was during the last two months of the campaign. Now does that sound like a man who was hard at against an opponent. EVERY SINGLE TIME that Santorum closed to within single digits, the Casey "campaign" released a new television advertisement, which featured additional photographs of Bush with Santorum, ---------------- and within 48 hrs thereafter, Casey's lead was back up to double digits. And that REPEATEDLY throughout the race. Which leads one to the only rational conclusion possible, the people of Pennsylvania were sending a message to their President by ousting one of his fellow Republicans.

Casey's debate performances were so bad, so pathetic, revealed him to be so out of his depth, that Pennsylvania papers which had already endorsed him observed that his debate performances raised questions about his ability to handle the job. Nonetheless, the people rejected Santorum in favour of Casey.

Casey didn't defeat Santorum.

Hell, he didn't even run against Santorum.

All Casey did was run a popularity contest on one of the most hatest Presidents of modern times.

Bush destroyed Santorum. Absolutely destroyed him.

And Santorum tried his damnedest to make up for a communication deficit, {no, a communicative black hole} at The White House, ---------------------- but no Senator, nobody for that matter, can make up for that level of incompetence, that level of gross and reckless incompetence in The White House.

Casey didn't use the events surrounding the demise of Terry Schiavo against Santorum. If you recall, Casey pretended to be just as pro-life as Santorum, rendering the life issue a wash. He didn't exude any waffling on that either. Santorum for his part didn't try to imply that Casey would prove to be your typical Catholic Democrat in the Senate, someone who made a separate peace on the life issue with the forces of abortion.

Did the war play a part?

Only to the extent that the President and his staff couldn't be bothered to go out there and fight for his war effort, and his Bush doctrine. By then, Bush's foreign policy had already entered early re-entry. It would become, as Bolton, Feith, {Gaffney, Perle, Gingrich, et al.} and many another describe, soon become a flaming object hurtling towards the Earth's surface. That was all in the wind. But by then all of America had seen their President holding hands in some creepy fashion with those they don't much cotton to. That was the kind of thing that, shall we say, handcuffed Republicans natiowide.

PETROLEUM prices were soaring, and the President couldn't even be bothered to speak to the issue.

??????????????????????????????????? Just think about that single act of supreme incompetence, and the impact that would INEXORABLY have on those Republicans standing for re-election.

Returning to the impact the war had, it needs to be noted that the election occurred pre-surge. There was CLEARLY a hands-off attitude from Washington at that time, where we were sustaining daily casualties, the Generals were travelling through, getting their tickets punched and NOBODY seemed to have any ultimate responsibility for events in the field. IT WAS THAT cavalier attitude, coupled with a DISDAIN, a deliberate, pre-meditated disdain for even trying to inform the American people of what the war entailed, what it would cost, what we were trying to do, -------- it was all of that which led to the INEVITABLE defeat of one of the finest Senators in recent times.

Santorum hadn't a prayer. There's absolutely no way he could have defeated any Democrat with that kind of incompetence dragging him down.

As for his speech about Tehran, --------------------- that was simply toughminded, straight talking, ------------ but by then no Pennsylvanians were listening, ---------------------- for as Peggy Noonan so accurately stated, by then the American people had "tuned out" their President.

I couldn't tell you the number of Congressional and Senate staffers I spoke to back in '05 and throughout '06, --------------- but there were Republicans like me, WARNING of what was coming. And warning in no uncertain fashion. Just about everything that ensued I predicted, IN DETAIL. REPEATEDLY I got the same answer from the staffers, and that was that nobody over at The White House is even heeding them. THAT LEVEL of mismanagement, that level of disdain for those ordinary actions attending any political activity, --------------------- it's a wonder ANY Republican held his seat with all of that going on.

How could a Republican explain the Dubai Deal for instance? 90 percent of the American people laughed at the very notion of delivering over ports to Dubai, yet the President tried to force it through. The American people knew the Dubai government made some promises to get that deal through, but unlike Washington, they knew those promises to be COMPLETELY worthless.

How could Santorum defend the President's refusal to engage with Cindy Sheehan, when Sheehan was camped outside his Crawford home, blasting away at him all day every day, just grinding down support for the war effort.

And then there was the immigration fiasco, which led to the great signing ceremony in October, the details of which were attempted to be rendered a nullity by the new immigration reform bills that followed the November, '06 debacle.

There's many a Conservative and Republican out there who would like to avoid fingering the TRUE culprit for that debacle. But not me.

Bush led my party into an absolute meatgrinder, and there was no need for it. None at all.

If you want to energize the religious base, go with Huckabee, who at least has the like-ability factor. The country is deeply suspicious of culture-war kooks like Santorum. He is why people like Rick Warren and Osteen and Huckabee and Obama has ascended. Santorum's glassy-eyed fanaticism should never be equated with 'seriousness'. Washington reporters still talk about his creepy photos of his dead son's fetus in his office, using it as an anti-abortion mascot.

Huckabee? Are you for real? Is that who you think best represents the base of the GOP? Then why didn't he win? Why couldn't his message travel beyond Evangelicals?

"[G]lassy-eyed fanaticism........????????????????" You've forgot that my party was born from the Abolition movement. We're not WHIGS, we're Republicans, and we WANT morality to inform both our domestic and foreign policy.

Santorum won his Senate seat TWICE, and won a state that Gore and Kerry carried. Pennsylvanians KNEW how intense Santorum's views on abortion were, ------------ that's why he was elected. Pennsylvania isn't fond of abortion, isn't fond of partial birth abortion and isn't fond of federal funding thereof. We're talking Pennsylvania here, not the San Francisco Bay area.

"[C]ulture war kooks............???????????????????"

Where have you been since 1968? What do you think the Left has been waging on American traditions for the last 30 years?


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