The selection of Senator Joe Biden appears to be a pragmatic move, one that is likely to bolster Senator Obama’s chances of a victory. Experience, ability to reach out to the white working class (Hillary voters) and foreign policy expertise — seem to have been the key reasons for selecting Biden. The conventional wisdom is that even if the VP does not hugely help the ticket, he or she shouldn’t hurt the ticket. At the moment Biden is unlikely to hurt the ticket provided he can avoid any major gaffes over the next several weeks. On the other hand, it does appear as though he can help the ticket particularly on Obama’s perceived weaknesses. Obama’s choice of Biden is akin to Kennedy’s choice of Lyndon Johnson – the seasoned hand behind a young, charismatic chief.
The choice of the VP candidate gives voters an insight into how the aspiring Presidential candidate thinks, and hence how he is likely to govern. Barring this, the selection of the vice-president, despite all the hype, is relatively a formality. The top of the ticket is what really counts the most.
By selecting Biden, Obama has shown once again that he is capable of adapting his positions to do what it takes to win, an essential ingredient for governing in partisan-ridden Washington. The selection also signifies a transition for the Obama campaign from doing what it took to win the primaries (taking on the Clinton machinery) to doing what it takes to win the general election (appearing centrist and taking on the Republicans). Despite all the accusations of Obama’s lack of experience, he has proven once again, that he can be a very astute politician, another attribute that will come in handy when trying to get things done if he were to come to power. Ironically (given that he beat the Bill Clinton at his own game), it appears as though Senator Obama has modeled himself on Bill Clinton (themes of Change, Hope, Washington is broken etc.) and it is highly possible that he would govern like Clinton himself (if he comes to power).
The choice of Biden appears to have complicated John McCain’s task of selecting a VP. Since the Obama-Biden announcement, Republicans have done everything from labeling the Democratic ticket as the Liberal Dream team, referring to Biden as Obama’s Cheney (ouch!), to suggesting a McCain Lieberman ticket, to kissing up to Hillary voters, to saying that the choice is an admission of Obama’s weakness — his lack of experience.
With Karl Rove’s proteges in charge of his campaign, McCain’s choice is also likely to be a very calculated one – one that appeases the party’s base, addresses his self-proclaimed weakness on economic matters, and ensures a decent match-up against Biden in the debates. It would be way too risky for McCain to select an inexperienced politician to match up against Biden in the debates. Going by these criteria, Mitt Romney appears to be the most likely choice (if you recall the primaries, all his positions were completely flexible).
(How many houses does a McCain-Romney ticket own? 🙂
p.s: The grand plan to text message supporters of the choice before the media picked up on the announcement turned out to be a flop. In this Twitter age, it is not in the least bit surprising that the news leaked. For an otherwise tightly run campaign, this was a setback of sorts, though the attempted stunt does have some benefits for the campaign.