Sunday, August 24, 2008

Obama Picks Sen. Joe Biden

Comment from Marc Ambinder:

This is a formidable ticket, and a risky ticket, and not a comfort zone choice for Obama. Put aside the obvious: Biden has foreign policy meat on his bones...He's a great debater... he has a working-class Scranton-bred Irish-Catholic heritage...he knows Washington very well...he has known tragedy in his life...

He was elected to the Senate as a change agent at the age of 29. He is comfortable but not wealthy -- he has not used the prerogatives of office to enrich his personal wealth, although his family has benefited from his stature.

Biden premised his presidential candidacy on the notion that Obama was unqualified and not ready from day one. You can expect that the McCain campaign or the RNC will run a national television advertisement featuring Biden's many and various quotations to this effect.

I gather that what impressed Obama about Biden is that Biden gets things done. He's a man of action. He's not a bullshitter. I also get the sense that Biden, 65, is pretty well aware that, at age 73 in eight years, he's not going to be a viable presidential choice, and thus convinced Obama that because the vice presidency would be his terminal position, the famous Biden ego will take a subordinate role.

I gather that Obama realizes that he needed a pick that would demonstrate some level of intellectual seriousness about the condition of the world. One of his sons heads for Iraq soon. Obama knows that, for Biden, getting Iraq right is much more than just about proving a point.

Biden is also a fighter on domestic policy. He touts as one of his greatest legislative accomplishments 1994's Violence Against Women Act.

Some liberals think he's a bully who got the Iraq war wrong (although Biden did try to pass a less bellicose resolution.) . But I suspect that the general response from Democrats will be "Great choice."

The criticism will focus on Biden's 1987 plagiarism bout, his support of credit card companies (he pushed the bankruptcy bill that Dems now hate), his comments about Obama, his racial obliviousness (the comment about Indian-Americans in 7/11). In a normal year, this stuff would have disqualified him instantly. That Obama (apparently) picked him demonstrates a recognition that the Democratic ticket ought to be more than just about Obama's personality... or a statement of bipartisan pragmatism... it's easy to float on gossamers when the world is safe, but when it's burning down, a guy like Biden is just the ticket.


Reminder about the 7-11 episode

Biden Commits "Racial Slur"

As NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein pointed out on Friday, there is quite a double-standard in the media concerning what's acceptable for a Democrat to say versus a Republican. With that in mind, as captured by C-SPAN, Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) recently made some comments concerning folks from India that were not at all flattering. As of yet, there appears to be no media outrage. Here's what Biden said:
"In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

Our friend Ian at Expose the Left has the video so that you can watch for yourself to gauge the seriousness of these statements, and what might have happened if a Republican had said the same thing.

Source (See the original for links)

Jonah Goldberg on Biden

Since we're at the beginning of this story, let me say - again (or again) - I have something of a weak spot for Biden. I think he's an honestly smart guy. I think he's a bleeding heart in many of the best - and worst - senses of the term. I saluted him for wanting hearings on the Iraq war. I think his behavior during the Bork and Thomas hearings was beyond disgusting and dishonorable. But we can get into all of that later.

I think it is an outright terrible decision on Obama's part to pick Biden. Yes, he helps balance Obama's inexperience on foreign policy, but he also reminds people of it. Yes, Biden could conceivably be effective as an attack dog. But Biden is such a gasbag he makes the Hindenburg look like a sack of rocks. Obama doesn't need to increase his lip-flapping quotient. Biden is a gaffe machine and Obama is bad explaining faults, and his VP's faults will inevitably become Obama's in the Fall campaign.

Biden will be fantastic at convincing people already eager to vote for Obama to vote for Obama. His ability to convince the undecided is much, much weaker, in my opinion. There's more than a small risk that Biden will reinforce the sense that this ticket is all about hearing itself talk. I wouldn't be surprised, two months from now, that we'll hear a lot of talk about how Obama's mistake in picking Biden can be explained by Obama's inherent weakness, and love, for talky-talk-talk.

Another possible, perhaps even likely storyline: Barack Obama has just picked his Dick Cheney.

Biden's profile as a blue collar Scranton guy sounds great on paper, and some of it probably speaks well of him as a human being, but as a political fact Joe Biden is a Senator. He talks like a Senator. He thinks like a Senator. He is a Senator. In a race where at least three of the candidates are Senators, he is the most Senatorial of them all (barring the unlikely scenario where McCain picks Bob Dole in order to make himself seem youthful).

All that said, I think Biden will give a phenomenal speech at the convention and for a week or two people will think it was a great pick.

I will leave you at this late hour with my description of Biden from a while back, which I see little need to embellish:
He says interesting things, from time to time. I think he makes a fair point here and there. He was correct, for example, that Congress needed to have a real deabte over the war. I think he has some obvious verbal intelligence. But, again, what's fascinating - and what might be distracting some folks from seeing his underlying-yet-occassional smarts - is that he lets his ego and vanity get in the way. The man loves his voice so much, you'd expect him to be following it around in a grey Buick, in defiance of restraining order, as it walks home from school. He seems to think his teeth are some kind of hypnotic punctuation marks which can momentarily disorient the listener and absolve him from any of Western civilization's usual imperatives to stop talking. Listening to him speechify is like playing an intellectual game of whack-a-mole where every now and then the fuzzy head of a good point pops up from the tundra but before you can pin it down, he starts talking about how he went to the store and saw a squirrel on the way and it was brown which brings to mind Brown V. Board of Ed which most people don't understand because [TEETH FLASH] he taught Brown in his law school course and [TEETH FLASH] Mr. Chairman I'm going to get right to it and besides these aren't the droids you're looking for..

Source (See the original for links)

More on Biden

It's hard for Obama supporters to play the age card any longer, as their potential veep is all of six years younger than McCain. The candidate of hope and change selected a running mate who was first elected to public office when Obama was 9 years old. He was elected to the Senate when Obama was 11. The bottom of the ticket running on change has been in Washington forever.

He voted for the Iraq War - which Obama touted as the most important decision since the end of the Cold War.

Biden supports a ban on partial-birth abortion. He supports deploying U.S. troops to Darfur in Sudan.

His mouth will be an absolute time bomb. Will he refer to Delaware as a "slave state" again? Will he discuss who's behind the counter at 7-11s?

I'm reminded of a Rudy Giuliani response when Biden took a shot at him - "Joe's a good guy, we all criticize each other during this time... But for Joe Biden to talk about qualifications - he's never run a city, he's never run a state, he's never run a business." That statement is true for both men on the Democratic ticket.

Other than Biden's mouth, it's a relatively safe pick. But since he'll be spending just about every waking moment between now and Election Day in front of television cameras... look out.

UPDATE: One last thought before bed: Imagine McCain picking Gov. Bobby Jindal. First line at the debate, "Senator, before we begin our debate, let me clarify for you that I don't work at a 7-11."


Study: ABC, NBC, CBS strongly support Obama

'Coverage bordered on giddy celebration of political rock star'

A comprehensive analysis of every evening news report by the NBC, ABC and CBS television networks on Barack Obama since he came to national prominence concludes coverage of the Illinois senator has "bordered on giddy celebration of a political 'rock star' rather than objective newsgathering." The new study by the Media Research Center, which tracks bias in the media, is summarized on the organization's website, where the full report also has been published. It reveals that positive stories about Obama over that time outnumbered negative stories 7-1, and significant controversies such as Obama's relationship with a convicted Chicago man have been largely ignored.

Rich Noyes, the research director for the MRC, told WND Obama has "always received very positive press from the national media," and that was a "huge boost to anyone seeking a national political career." That's contrary to the normal "default position" for reporters of being slightly cynical and a little skeptical, he said. It is "not the normal professional approach you see in journalists," he said. Noyes said the results imply that the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week, where Obama is expected to be nominated and has scheduled an acceptance speech in the city's 75,000-seat football stadium, will generate much media praise for the candidate.

If Obama is described by the media repeatedly as the historic first black to carry a political party's nomination for president while presumptive GOP candidate Sen. John McCain is just a Republican, that would give Obama an advantage, he said.

The MRC said it located every story referencing Obama on ABC's World News, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News "from the time Obama emerged on the national stage." "The three evening news broadcasts may not be able to tout the high ratings of a generation ago, but together averaged more than 23 million combined viewers from January through early June of this year, far more than their cable news competitors," the MRC said. A total of 1,365 news stories and interviews offered "at least some discussion" of Obama, and 40 percent focused exclusively on Obama. NBC aired 490 stories, ABC 464 and CBS had 411.

Brent Bozell, president of the MRC, said in a news release accompanying the report the bottom line issue for journalism is that the Big Three networks, "had a horse in this year's Democratic primary race." He also credited the three networks with providing Obama's "margin of victory" over fellow Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton. "The press fixated their infatuated gazes on Sen. Obama, and afforded him the crucial coverage and support he needed to win," Bozell said. The study noted Obama's victory over Clinton was by 41,622 votes out of 35 million, one-tenth of a percentage point.

But it said the networks provided Obama with 462 positive stories during the studied time frame, to just 70 that were critical, and Obama got "his best press when it mattered most, as he debuted on the national scene. All of the networks lavished him with praise when he was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and did not produce a single negative story about Obama (out of 81 total reports) prior to the start of his presidential campaign in 2007, the study said.

As important as the positive spin the MRC found, "the networks downplayed or ignored major Obama gaffes and scandals. Obama's relationship with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko was the subject of only two full reports (one each on ABC and NBC) and mentioned in just 15 other stories. CBS and NBC also initially downplayed controversial statements from Obama's longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright, but heavily praised Obama's March 18 speech on race relations."

Even when the networks were giving Obama his worst publicity, they still offered two positive stories about him for every critical report, the MRC said. Tellingly, they referred to Obama as "rock star, "rising star," or "superstar" 29 times in four years, describing him as "liberal" only 14 times. "Perhaps if he had faced serious journalistic scrutiny instead of media cheerleading, Barack Obama might still have won his party's nomination. But the tremendously positive coverage that the networks bestowed upon his campaign was of incalculable value," the report said.

"The early celebrity coverage helped make Obama a nationally-known figure with a near-perfect media image. The protectiveness that reporters showed during the early primaries made it difficult for his rivals to effectively criticize him. And when it came to controversies such as the Wright affair, network reporters acted more as defenders than as journalists in an adversarial relationship. If the media did not actually win the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama, they surely made it a whole lot easier," the report said.

The report said the bias the MRC uncovered also has not been lost on Americans. "The Pew Research Center surveyed about 1,000 adults in late May and reported that 'far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton,' even with 35 percent of Democrats seeing 'a pro-Obama bias,'" the report said. A Rasmussen survey in July found nearly half of voters believe most reporters try to help Obama with their reporting. The report cited instances such as when MSNBC's Chris Matthews said when he was listening to Obama, "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."

During the 2004 DNC, then-NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said of Obama: "His national debut is getting rave reviews . This blessed young father of two is the son of a Kenyan working-class man and a white Midwestern mother. Both his parents are gone, but the lessons of their love are not." Conversely, Brokaw said the Republican keynoter that year, Democratic Sen. Zell Miller, was "torching his party and its ticket."

"Obama in 2007 had the luxury of launching his presidential campaign having never once been the subject of a negative evening news story," the report said. Significantly, when Obama claimed his parents "got together" because of "what happened in Selma," ABC and NBC ignored the fact that Obama was born in August 1961 and Selma's civil rights march happened three months later.

Later when a Clinton campaign surrogate suggested Obama's admissions of using cocaine could be exploited in a general election, the networks called out the Clinton campaign for its "dirty trick." That contrasted to eight years earlier, when candidate George W. Bush was pushed aggressively to reveal whether he might have used cocaine. "If the media did not actually win the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama, they surely made his road to the White House a whole lot smoother," the report concluded.

Source (See the original for links)

Most Voters Disagree With Obama on Affirmative Action, Workers' Rights, and Self-Defense

Recent statements by Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama put him squarely at odds with a majority of likely voters on three hot-button issues, according to a breaking ATI-News/Zogby poll. These exclusive poll results show Americans disagree with the Illinois Senator's positions on affirmative action, workers' rights, and self-defense. This nationwide poll of 974 likely voters was conducted August 15-18 (margin of error +/- 3.2 percentage points).

Affirmative Action

Long a champion of across-the-board racial preferences, Obama most recently took presidential rival John McCain to task for supporting a ballot initiative in Arizona that would ban special preferences based on race and gender in that state. Poll results show American voters disagree with Obama.

ATI-News/Zogby asked likely voters: "Would you support or oppose a ballot measure in your state that prohibits preferential treatment for any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, public education or public contracting?"

Fifty-four percent of respondents support a ban on racial and gender preferences, while only 40 percent agree with Obama's position of keeping such preferences intact. In addition, a majority of African Americans (52 percent) would ban racial preferences, as would a majority of Democrats (51 percent), Republicans (53 percent) and Independents (58 percent).

Workers' Rights

Barack Obama has promised, if elected, to sign a controversial federal labor law that would restrict the rights of workers nationwide. Dubbed the "Employee Free Choice Act," the bill would eliminate the right of workers to vote anonymously in elections that determine whether or not to organize as a union.

ATI-News/Zogby asked likely voters: "Some organized labor groups want to eliminate a worker's right to cast a secret ballot in elections in which workers decide whether or not to organize as a union. Do you support or oppose the workers' right to a secret ballot when deciding on unionizing?"

A decisive majority of respondents, 78 percent, support workers' rights to secret ballots -- including a strong majority of Democrats (81 percent), Republicans (73 percent), and Independents (80 percent). Only a slim minority of likely voters (15 percent) agree with Obama that workers do not have a right to vote anonymously in unionization elections.


Obama has recently voiced tepid support for the right to use firearms for self-defense, however, his legislative record shows otherwise. As a State Senator in 2004, Obama opposed a bill that was passed by the Illinois General Assembly that protects homeowners from prosecution if they defend their families and homes with a firearm in defiance of local gun bans.

ATI-News/Zogby asked likely voters: "Do you agree or disagree that you have the right to use deadly force as a means of self-defense in your home, without having to retreat?"

Eighty-eight percent of respondents agree that they have a right to defend themselves and their families with deadly force during a home invasion. Only eight percent would side with the position Obama took as a State Senator to infringe on the homeowner's right to self-defense.



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