Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm Just Sayin': The idiotic "Biden undercuts change" argument

By: Phil Trounstine

The most idiotic punditbabble we're heard in the wake of Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden -- advanced by the AP's Ron Fournier, NBC's David Gregory and others as if they were channeling John McCain's talking points -- is the notion that Biden undercuts Obama's message that it's time for a change.

Exhibit A, in this silly argument, is Biden's 35 years in the United States Senate. The simplistic formulation argues that because Biden is an old hand in Washington, he undermines Obama as a standard-bearer for change.

First of all, consider the absurdity of the suggestion that a brilliant, young, black president wouldn't represent an historic, transforming leap forward in American politics. On its face, this is nothing more than Rovian hyperspin.

Barack Obama personifies change -- no matter who his running-mate is.

But there's a further point (and thanks to Newsweek's Howard Fineman for picking up on it): That what Biden represents is a guy - perhaps uniquely qualified - to implement the change that Obama represents.

With his knowledge of the ways of Washington, his vast experience in the Senate, his insider savvy, Biden brings to the Democratic ticket a glimmer of hope that all the things Obama wants to accomplish - from foreign affairs and health care to economic and tax policy - might actually get done in the next administration.

McCain's people desperately did not want Obama to pick Biden for precisely this reason, along with the fact that Biden actually knows McCain, he's an Irish Catholic from Scranton, he's a family man who can rub elbows in union halls and he's a terrific debater and attack surrogate.

Without someone like Biden on the ticket - with a governor perhaps or a less effective senator - Obama risked looking like a dreamer, not a doer. But with Biden at his side, the Democratic ticket suddenly can offer itself as a pragmatic, can-do engine for change.

Biden doesn't detract from the message of change: he drives it home.


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