ELIZANDRO: Just Biden his time

John Elizandro

Many in the political and intellectual classes viewed the nomination of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate with disdain. Such a relative newcomer to the national political scene, they reasoned, will likely stumble and flail.

Surely the inexperienced political novice would end up as an embarrassment to the McCain campaign and a liability to her running mate’s chances of success.

So far, Palin’s selection has turned out to be quite the opposite. The Alaska governor has been an enormous boost to the McCain campaign. Since her selection, McCain’s fundraising has improved dramatically, attendance at his rallies has soared and great improvements have been made in his poll numbers within several important demographics.

Barack Obama’s choice of his running mate, however, is beginning to seem less inspired.

You almost have to feel bad for Joe Biden. Just days after his nomination as Obama’s vice presidential running mate, the senator from Delaware was totally outshined by McCain’s choice. Momentarily, the race seemed to become a three-way act: Obama, McCain and Palin. But before long, Biden’s legendary reputation for verbal slip-ups catapulted him back into the spotlight. Biden’s first perplexing statement was his admission that Hillary Clinton “might have been a better pick” as Obama’s running mate. Obama had spent a great deal of time on the campaign trail articulating exactly why Biden deserved to be the next vice president of the United States, and one can only imagine his reaction when he heard Biden himself was undermining his case in favor of arch-rival Clinton.

But The Human Gaffe Machine’s mistakes didn’t stop there. At one rally, Biden enthusiastically urged a wheelchair-bound supporter to “stand up” and be recognized by the crowd. Upon realizing his mistake, he awkwardly stumbled and stammered before returning to his speech.

Embarrassing, if trivial, Biden soon began making more substantive errors on policy. Asked about his position on the bailout of insurance giant AIG, Biden definitively said, “I don’t think they should be bailed out.” This was at odds with the position of his running mate, who had tried to articulate a more nuanced position on the issue.

Obama was later forced in an interview to scold Biden and dryly said, “I think Joe should have waited” to make that judgment. Biden next remarked that raising taxes on wealthy people in the middle of an economic crisis was “patriotic.” Sorry, senator, but paying taxes is no more “patriotic” than following the speed limit. You either do it or you go to jail. Biden still wasn’t finished.

When the Obama campaign ran an ad mocking John McCain’s inability to use a computer – McCain doesn’t use a computer because his injuries sustained during his time in Vietnam preclude him from typing – Biden minced no words when asked his opinion of the spot.

When asked about the ad, run by his own campaign, Biden said he thought it was “terrible.” When discussing the role of presidential leadership in times of economic crisis, Biden said, “When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the TV and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed.”

Unfortunately for Biden, not only were TVs only in the experimental stages in 1929, but Franklin Roosevelt wasn’t even the president. For a candidate so quick to cite his own “judgment,” Obama seems to have made a curious choice in a running mate.

As of late last week, McCain was calling for a postponement of Sept. 26’s debate in order to deal with the economic crisis. At Obama’s insistence, the debate went on as scheduled.

Here’s a suggestion: While McCain returns to Washington to work toward a solution for the financial markets, perhaps Obama instead should debate Biden. They would certainly have a lot to argue about.


John Elizandro is a freshman from Radnor, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].