Obama's VP pick: a triumph of no-change politics
Joe Biden is the ultimate Washington Insider.
By choosing Joe Biden, Barack Obama has – according to the conventional wisdom – added vital experience and foreign-policy wisdom to his campaign. What he's really done is add an exclamation point to the triumph of cynical, win-at-all-cost politics.Skip to next paragraph
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Remember: This was supposed to be a very different kind of contest. John McCain – the maverick. Barack Obama – the once-in-a-generation leader. A campaign that would rival Lincoln-Douglas for substance.
But the past few months have shown how hard it is to break old political habits. Senator McCain has gone negative, big-time. It's working. Senator Obama has become more mainstream. Now he's picked Senator Biden, the ultimate Washington insider, and someone who can fight back hard. It all adds up to what could be the dirtiest, ugliest campaign of the past 80 years.
2008 is a campaign that's become more politics as usual than change we can believe in.
I did not expect Obama to choose Biden as his vice president, even when the 35-year Senate veteran became the favorite pick of conventional wisdom week ago. For those of us in the netroots, Biden often represents the Beltway status quo that we have confronted in previous battles.
He has been referred to as Biden (MBNA) – instead of (D)– for the way he's carried water for credit-card companies, even when it puts corporate profits ahead of the welfare of the very poor among us. On matters such as voting for the invasion of Iraq and its continued funding, Biden has been in direct opposition to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and Obama, too.
Let's not fool ourselves into believing that Biden reinforces Obama's central message during the primaries: "change we can believe in." Nor does Biden symbolize a generational choice in the way that Al Gore was for Bill Clinton in 1992 – signaling the changing of the guard. No, Biden is the epitome of the Old Guard in Washington.
So why did Obama pick him? Because his team apparently recognized, just in time perhaps, that running a "post-partisan" campaign as an agent of change simply wasn't going to bring victory in November. Choosing Biden shows that the Obama team's reverence for a new politics has been mugged by reality.