Editorial: Now the going gets tough for Obama, Biden
You've heard it for months now, and if you were among the thousands who packed downtown Springfield on Saturday, you saw it firsthand: The Obama campaign has stirred interest among young voters like no other in recent memory.
Making one’s way through the throng, it was all but impossible to not notice the clusters of teenagers too young to vote who came out to wait hours in line, then endure sweltering heat, for a look at the candidate. This on a day when Obama announced Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential choice via text message. Talk about youth appeal.
Obama’s message of hope and change has drawn many young voters who previously had little or no interest in politics. His message for many is a balm for the cynicism that had become the default attitude among many voters toward politics in general and presidential politics in particular.
Obama's appearance on Saturday, like his announcement of his candidacy here in 2007, made it easy to see why.
“Now, with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident that we can take this country in a new direction, that we are ready to overcome the adversity of the last eight years; that we won’t just win this election in November, we’ll restore that fair shot at your dreams that is at the core of who Joe Biden and I are as people, and what America is as a nation,” Obama intoned.
Inspiring words delivered in the strong, confident manner that has become Obama’s trademark.
Saturday was a tremendous day for those getting their first taste of a presidential campaign, up close and personal (or at least as close as possible). But the strong rhetoric and good feelings of Saturday come with a caveat: Now things get tough.
Obama and Biden now head to Denver, where the Democratic National Convention will provide a week’s worth of great oratory and photo opportunities.
After that, Obama and Biden will face new pressure for specifics on their campaign promises. How, exactly, are we going to reduce our dependency on foreign oil? How will an Obama administration bolster the nation’s housing market? How will Obama deal with Russia the next time it flexes its muscles?
We’re not out to stoke cynicism here as the election season gets serious. There is no denying the electricity that was in the air downtown Saturday, and Obama seems to have forged a uniquely emotional connection with his base. But those for whom Obama is an introduction to politics can’t let Saturday’s euphoria cloud the reality of the grueling campaign to come.
Obama made good choice
The first criterion for an American presidential nominee to consider when picking a potential vice president is not whether he or she can help win a state, satisfy an interest group or plug a hole in the nominee’s resume.
It is whether that person is qualified to be president should tragedy strike.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., does that and more for the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. The pick does not unleash the kind of political shock-and-awe that selecting Hillary Clinton or even former Vice President Al Gore would have. Obama has enough star power on his own.
The choice of Biden shows a kind of quiet boldness on Obama’s part. It shows Obama is not afraid to compensate for a weakness everybody knows is on voters’ minds — his lack of experience in the ways of Washington and foreign affairs.
In his speech, Biden also proved he was up to another duty of the vice presidential nominee, a liberal dose of criticism for the Republican nominee, Biden’s friend Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
“I’ve been disappointed in my friend, John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and yielded to the very swift boat politics that he ... once so deplored,” Biden said.
Pontificators have said Biden could help Obama in blue-collar states like Pennsylvania, the place of Biden’s birth, and Ohio. Most don’t vote based on who the vice presidential nominee is. Obama still has to connect with those voters on his own.
But those voters can certainly imagine Biden sitting at the desk in the Oval Office. Because of that, Obama made a good choice.