Editorial: Obama's V.P. selection inspires confidence

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A couple of different theories have been expressed regarding soon-to-be Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden to join him on the ballot, their owners largely determined by their respective political persuasions.

Some have argued that the selection of the 65-year-old, longtime U.S. senator from Delaware amounts to an attempted correction of the defects on Obama's resume, compensating for his youth and lack of experience, especially in foreign policy. As such it's a sign of the top of the ticket's weakness, like the selection of Dick Cheney eight years ago to accompany George W. Bush.

Others have argued that Obama's preference for Biden is indicative of a certain strength and confidence on Obama's part. Only those lacking in such surround themselves with "yes" men, and Biden is anything but. He will speak truth to power.

In any event, none of that really matters so much as this: In the event that the president is incapacitated, can the vice president step in during that crisis and not only lead the nation but help guide the free world?

In Biden's case - given his long experience, substantial intellect, esteem with which he's held here and abroad regarding his knowledge of national security issues, his generally scrappy nature - the answer is yes. Joe Biden is no Dan Quayle.

There has been some criticism of the pick already, with Republicans noting immediately in campaign commercials for GOP standard-bearer John McCain that Biden was critical of Obama, his policies and his readiness - and complimentary of McCain - on the primary stump this past spring.

Our response to that would be: So what? Why the vice president must march in lockstep with the commander in chief on every conceivable issue is beyond us. Again, any leader worth the title should invite challenge around his center table. We trust, and hope, that McCain won't choose a "Mr. Milquetoast," either, when he gets around to naming his running mate in the next week or so.

Oh, Biden is not perfect. He'd be well-advised to put the brakes on his mouth on occasion. Apparently it's news to some that we elect human beings to public office. Still, his strengths outnumber his weaknesses. His success is self-made, not inherited. That should help the ticket with working-class Democrats.

It hasn't been easy for him, as he's had to overcome many challenges: ridicule as a child because of a persistent stutter; personal tragedy in the loss of a wife and a child in an auto accident shortly after being elected to the Senate; single parenthood after that; a near-fatal brain aneurysm. Such experiences forge character.

Meanwhile, Biden is a native of Pennsylvania, a swing state in this election. He has learned the legislative process as few others have. A roadblock Congress has damaged many an administration, no matter how well-intentioned. Biden's long and generally respected tenure there should help. Those who know him have stressed his fundamental decency.

Obama made note of that in introducing Biden in front of Springfield's Old State Capitol on Saturday. Anybody who saw the two of them there - and let us say Obama certainly has a flair for timing, freezing the throng that traveled to Springfield for his unveiling in February, sweating the faithful out in August - should appreciate that this is a formidable ticket.

That said, while Americans may very well vote for a team when they choose the residents of the White House, it's that first name, the candidate for president, who matters most. This is still Obama's race to win or lose.

Nonetheless, as a reflection of Obama's judgment, his pick of Biden is reassuring. On with the convention.

Peoria Journal Star