Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

So Who Is Joe Biden?

Gaffe Machine?


Old School Washington Insider?

Aggressive Attack Dog?

Probably all of the above.  But what about his positions on issues?  

He is a moderate on abortion.  NARAL says he's only 35% pro-choice on voting but National Right to Life Coalition says he's 0% pro-life.  He's a Catholic who says he personally against abortion but doesn't want to impose anyone's views on anyone.  So he's voted against public funding for abortions and against partial birth abortions but he's also voted against banning abortions on military bases and against requiring parental consent for abortions.  Biden also says that he believes the constitution includes a "right to privacy" which is the underlying logic of Roe v. Wade.  

One of his better one liners is "Nobody asks if you're gay in a foxhole."  He's rated as having a 78% pro-gay rights voting record by HRC and 100% on affirmative action by NAACP.  But only 60% on civil liberties by ACLU.  

He's rated as 42% pro-trade by CATO but his key votes indicate he's from the pro-trade wing of the Democratic party.  In particular he's advocated expanding free trade to the Andean countries, Vietnam and China.  But he's opposed CAFTA in Central America.  When Clinton was President, in 1997, he favored "fast track" authority.  But since Bush has been President, he's opposed it.  So shock of shocks, he trusts Democratic presidents more than Republican ones.

Unions love this guy.  AFL-CIO rate him at 100% pro-Union.  

He's got a 100% pro-separation of church and state voting record.


The Law Talking Guy said...

I fear this only emphasizes foreign policy in this campaign, because the media says that's what Biden is about (although that's not really true).

History Buff said...

Yes, but foreign policy is where presidents have the most control. They can say all they want about the economy, but congress is in charge of this area, all the president can do is veto. I'm glad he picked someone stong on foreign policy and someone who knows how to play the game. The Clinton's weren't the only Washington outsiders that had trouble with this, it was disastrous for Jimmy Carter.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'll disagree with History Buff on whether Bill Clinton's foreign policy had problems. He had a remarkably far sighted foreign policy. It was also innovative in several ways.

First, most administrations before his had made the State Department and the Defense Department the only instruments of foreign policy. But Clinton dramatically increased the role of the Commerce department. This was a brilliant move in the era of Globalization. Contrast this with Bush's war cabinet - he appointed a former Defense secretary to be VP, a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be Secretary of State and a notorious chicken hawk to be Secretary of Defense. After a while he even appointed his Assistant Secretary of Defense to be head of the World Bank, an institution supposedly dedicated to economic aid to poor countries.

Second, he adopted a policy of peaceful containment of China combined with constructive engagement with that country. He improved our relations with India, Iran, and Vietnam. And our relations with China did not suffer greatly as a result. Contrast this with the Bush policy which has made enemies of all these countries - except perhaps India.

USWest said...

It is interesting that Obama picked Biden and not Richardson. In fact, it doesn't seem Obama considered Richardson. It is evident that Obama wasn't just looking at foreign policy. He wanted an insider and he wanted a sharp personality. That tells me that Obama appreciates and works well with a personality like Biden's. And it tells me that Obama feels that this is what the nation needs in the event that Biden needed to run the government. I think as Biden's record gets more air play, people will be happy with this choice.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Biden is white. He has made comments about race that are somewhat insensitive, but nothing out of the ordinary for older people. So maybe older white people will find that Biden makes Obama seem more comfortable.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I'll bet you 90% of voters have never heard of Joe Biden, and 95% could not correctly identify him. Worse, there surely will be enough hard-to-explain-in-a-soundbite votes in Biden's 35-year record that McCain will be able to bury him with them. Biden brings no electoral votes (sorry, Delaware!) and his foreign policy experience will serve only to highlight Obama's lack thereof. Biden is an insider's insider who will add nothing but a sense of dullness and politics-as-usual to Obama's struggling campaign.

Biden for VP was a choice made by committee--the candidate no one had a strong objection to, but no one loved either. Of all the candidates possible, he picks Biden. Sigh. You know, there's a reason voters never warmed to Biden on either of his Presidential runs. He looks more comfortable attending a foreign funeral than fist-bumping at a political rally. But then again, such is the traditional role of a Vice-President.

Raised By Republicans said...

The above is the first pass at the numbers on Biden as VP choice.

Dr. S.,

Assuming Hillary was NOT going to be the pick. What pick would you have wanted to see and why? Please, give a name don't just say "a bold choice."

Dead Parrot said...

As an observer of the process, I understand the role of the VP. He (or she) is expected to help the presidential candidate get elected by attacking the opponent, articulating positions, making the candidate seem tougher or softening the rough edges as needed.

But as a voter who has to make a decision, the VP is not part of my evaluation. I want to know who the candidate is likely to put in his cabinet. They will have a much bigger impact on the country over the next four years than the Veep.

To that end, the choice of Biden has one major result - he cannot be Obama's choice for Secretary of Defense. He would have received a long look.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Here are a few possible bold VP choices for Obama other than Hillary, in no particular order.

1. Max Cleland
2. Ted Kennedy
3. Caroline Kennedy
4. Colin Powell
5. Michael Bloomberg
6. Harold Ford, Jr.
7. Barbara Lee
8. Jim Jeffords
9. Al Gore

They all have plusses and minuses, and a few might have declined (like Gore and Jeffords). But none would have been boring. (Hillary was still my first choice, of course.)

USWest said...

Gore is a bad option because you don't put 2000 back in the White House.

Ted Kennedy is too sick and not a good choice because you want to talk about baggage! If you think Biden's 35 year sof voting record is a problem, the Ted Kennedy is a catastrophe.

Carolyn Kennedy: Brings nothing to a ticket, least of all experience.

Jim Jeffords is like McCain picking Liberman and would set off a fire storm.

Numbes 4-6 are interesting choices. But Powell is tainted with Iraq and is probably pretty done with government service. You can't say, as Obama has over and over, that you voted against the war in Iraq, and then put Powell on your ticket.

Bloomberg would have been an interesting possibility. Ford jr. would have made a pretty picture, but is too much like Obama maybe to sell to the electorate. Again, Obama said that he wanted someone whom he would trust to run the government. Ford wouldn't be the guy in that case.

The others on your list, I don't know enough about.

If McCain spends his time attacking Biden, then at least Obama is out of the firing line. That may have been part of the calculation. Let Biden serve as a red herring.

Raised By Republicans said...

Thanks Dr. S. Those are some good names to think about.

I like the Jeffords idea! That would certainly have been "post partisan." Jeffords also voted against the Iraq War so he would consistent on the message there. But if Dr. S's concern is that no one has heard of Biden, even fewer have heard of Jeffords.

Max Cleland would have been kind of interesting too. Dueling war heros. Go ahead McCain, "swift boat" the guy with no legs and one arm. It'd be like appointing Cotton Hill - "I got no shins!" But Cleland voted for the Iraq War and later admitted he did so only to curry votes - it didn't work. So full marks to Cleland for being self aware but minus 10 points for lack of political courage.

There's bold and there's suicidal. Barbara Lee actually voted against using military force in Afghanistan after 9/11!! If Obama picked her he'd hand McCain the biggest political gift in generations. She's probably the most radical leftist in the House. If Obama put her on the ticket, I'd seriously consider not voting.

I like Al Gore but do we really think Gore would want to be second banana again? Bloomberg and Powell are still Republicans. So I think a lot of the people on this list would turn it down and not be particularly careful about keeping it a secret. That could have put Obama in a position of being publicly rejected. He needed to offer it to someone who he would be pretty sure would be glad to get the offer.

Caroline Kennedy is too Boomer and I don't know that she's really accomplished anything in the way of public service except serving on a lot of boards of institutes and programs honoring her father. What I think Obama's biggest strength is that he's coming without all that 1960s Boomer baggage. Appointing a Kennedy from any generation just dredges all that stuff up again for good or ill. But I'm just too much of a Gen X chauvinist to put up with it much longer. Everyone now..."Gen X Forever! Boomers Never!"

Teddy Kennedy is reportedly so ill now that he cannot travel to a celebration being held in his honor. He's sending a video taped message instead.

Spotted Handfish said...

If only this analysis had appeared sooner, courtesy of the UK's Grauniad...

The Law Talking Guy said...

I was totally turned around by Biden's speech on Saturday! That's exactly the message Democrats need to win. He can talk to older people and convince them that Obama's the right young man for the job. All about The Economy and No Third Term! Suddenly, I'm in love with Uncle Joe (well, I'll find a better title).

As for Richardson, remember how Carville called him a Judas? That may be how the Clinton inner circle thought, and Obama knew that putting him on the ticket would be viewed by them as a slap. They didn't mind Biden.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I loveed the rundown of VP candidates by Medium Lobster that Spotted Handfish pointed us to (see above)! Hilariously painful. My favorite was his summary of The Cryptkeeper as a possibility for McCain's VP:

"The Cryptkeeper [for McCain's VP]

Pros: balances out McCain ticket with touch of youth and vigour; winning sense of humour sure to charm media and independents alike; foreign policy expertise ensured by unquenchable thirst for death.

Cons: May be just a pre-makeup Joe Biden"

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S said this in another thread but it fits better with this thread.

"Biden is a mediocre choice, not terrible, not good. That's the definition of playing it safe. Choosing Biden signals nothing exciting but also signals nothing loud one way or the other.

In the end, even skeptical people will realize that, whatever little they may feel Obama has to offer at this point, McCain has nothing to offer. The choice will be between Obama-and-what's-his-name and that-Republican-dude. At this point, a ham sandwich labeled "Republican" would probably lose the election. No doubt that is why Obama picked a ham sandwich of his own for VP."

I think you are being too hard on this choice Dr. S. The other options weren't obviously great. The Barbara Lee suggestion was truly suicidal. Jeffords and Cleland were interesting but not slam dunks either.

You're also exaggerating Biden's lack of national profile and the likelihood that it won't improve quickly. For example, your random guess that "90%" have never heard of Biden is way way off. CNN polls conducted recently say that 38% like Biden, 25% don't like him and 12% have never heard of him and 25% are unsure.

I'll reiterate that Biden is a good choice from the Clinton point of view. IF you think that Hillary Clinton would be a good President and that the country would be better off if some day she were, you have to admit that her best shot at being President would be if McCain won. If you aren't willing to pay that price, then her best shot would be if Obama has a successful two term administration and she would run in 2016. If Obama had picked someone like Caroline Kenneday or Evan Bayh or Chet Edwards, it would set them up as the heir apparent for 2016 and would have been a hurdle for HRC. My guess is that the choice of Biden was in part approved by if not encouraged by HRC herself.

USwest said...

RBR: "The choice will be between Obama-and-what's-his-name and that-Republican-dude. At this point, a ham sandwich labeled "Republican" would probably lose the election.

Let's don't jinx ourselves with overconfidence RBR. Too many things can go wrong, including election fiddling. It ain't over until the fat lady sings. Now go out side, turn around in a circle three times and toss salt over your shoulder!

USwest said...

As for the speech: I love Biden's reference to Mccain's 7 kitchen tables!

Dr. Strangelove said...

RBR says, "IF you think that Hillary Clinton would be a good President and that the country would be better off if some day she were, you have to admit that her best shot at being President would be if McCain won."

You are overthinking here. Not picking Hillary is bad for Hillary. It's that simple.

If she could not be the Presidential nominee, she wanted the VP slot--or at least to be nominated for it. And that is certainly what Hillary supporters wanted. Hillary surely has a better chance of winning in 4 or 8 years with VP or "VP nominee" on her resume than with just another 4 or 8 years of being Senator.

And why wouldn't Biden want to run in 4 or 8 years himself? He's only a few years older than Hillary, and after two Obama terms he would still be about McCain's age. Being 70 is not "too old" anymore! Not with all the baby boomers retiring and wanting one of their own in the White House. Obama has elevated Biden to national standing, and he is now a rival to Hillary for any future election.

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest, to be fair, the overconfident "ham sandwich" remark was mine... RbR was just quoting me.

I think I am right that 90% of Americans don't know who Biden is. When I told several friends on Saturday, they ALL said, "who?" Even a friend who had given money to Hillary in the recent political campaign. These are not political junkies like us, but ordinary people who don't read the newspapers and don't watch CNN. I'll bet you the 38% who were OK with Biden were just glad it wasn't someone else (like Hillary), and the 25% who didn't like him were disappointed it wasn't someone else (like Hillary). And anyhow, if asked by a pollster, most people will just say yes or no based on gut feeling, regardless of whether they actually know who Biden is (beyond, perhaps, hearing his name mentioned in the past few days as a possible VP pick).

Nobody likes to admit ignorance to a pollster when it comes to a person they are clearly "supposed" to know.

Uswest said...

OK, if Dr.S is correct, isn't being unknown a good thing? This means that Biden can introduce himself anew.

We needed someone who could speak in simple, straight sentences fro the simple folk. Biden is good at that, even if there is a gaffe from time to time. Who doesn't have a gaffe?

Dr. Strangelove said...

I just want Biden to slip up and say, "It's time for the Democrats to take black the white house!" :-)

Raised By Republicans said...

I want to hear McCain refer to Iraq as Vietnam.

Pombat said...

Oooooh, RbR, THAT would be goooooood :-)))

Anyone got any links to Biden's speeches recently, or should I be ok with my usual US news source, and subject of a little bit of an intellectual crush I must admit (despite him being short), the wonderfully giggle-inducing Jon Stewart?