Tim Kaine: You may now remove your lips from Senator Obama’s fanny (nice work on that ceasfire!). Evan Bayh: Go back to doin’ what you were doin’… whatever that is. And Chet Edwards: Who are you, again? After weeks of rampant speculation, the Obama campaign finally announced its selection for Vice-President early Saturday morning to an audience of sleeping journalists and inebriated twenty-somethings. In yet another gaffe on the part of the all-too-fallible Messiah, the much-hyped text message which was to deliver the decision directly to supporters was not sent until 3am ET – hours after it had already been reported by several prominent media outlets.  While some commentators view the timing as a not-so-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and her infamous ads during the primaries, the focus now shifts to Senator Biden and the pros and cons of his addition to the ticket.

David Brooks does a good job of summarizing the strengths: Biden has a working-class background and is viewed as a “lunch bucket Democrat”, a champion of the common man. Such appeal could help Obama win over those “bitter” folks who so soundly rejected him during the primaries and combat Republican accusations of liberal elitism. Biden’s direct way of speaking and blunt rhetoric will also temper the soaring platitudes that have come to define Obama’s speeches. Most importantly, Biden brings a much needed sense of gravitas to the ticket, counterbalancing Obama’s youth and inexperience with his vast breadth of both political and life experience. Much has been made of Biden’s knowledge of foreign policy (he is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations) and legislation in general, but he is also a man who has overcome serious personal tragedy and heartache: Biden’s wife, Neilia, and daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car crash shortly after Biden first became a Senator in 1972, and he survived two brain aneurysms in 1988.

However, despite his merits, the selection of Biden is questionable on a number of levels. For one, it nullifies a number of the arguments that the Obama campaign had used against McCain: Like McCain, he’s old. He’s been a member of the Senate since Obama was in grade school. He’s accepted $5,133,072 in contributions from lobbyists and has a son, Hunter, who is a registered Washington lobbyist. He voted in favor of the Iraq War. He rejected Obama’s belief that we should meet with our enemies without preconditions. In addition, Biden’s supposed expertise on foreign policy has been undercut by several ludicrous suggestions that were roundly criticized: Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reminds us of an October 2001 profile in The New Republic, which captured Biden suggesting that “this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.” He hoped to placate the Arab world that had just attacked our nation, forgetting that the Iranians are Persians, not Arabs. More prominent has been his idea to partition Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions (the Biden-Brownback Resolution), an idea which was so bad, it actually brought those warring sects together in common disgust.

But aside from policy issues, beneath the portrait of Dr. Jekyll that Mr. Brooks tries to paint in the Times, there lurks a Mr Hyde that Republicans are eager to introduce to the American public. Biden’s mouth has been known to get him into serious trouble, and may very well prove to be problematic in such a close race.  Some notable examples from over the course of his career:

– During the 1988 Presidential campaign that launched him to national prominence, Biden was forced to withdraw amidst a storm of controversy. A video put together by the Dukakis campaign showed that Biden had lifted portions of speeches from a British politician named Neil Kinnock. Days later, it was revealed that he had also plagiarized a law review paper while he was a first-year student at Syracuse Law School. Further investigation into his academic career led to a testy exchange in New Hampshire, during which Biden told a questioner named Frank, who had asked about his law school grades, “I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.” He then added that he “went to law school on a full academic scholarship,  the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,” and that he “ended up in the top half… with three degrees from college.” It was later revealed that Biden had achieved only one degree, a B.A., and had graduated 76th in his class… out of 85 students.  His excuse? “I exaggerate when I’m angry.”

While the controversy over Biden’s grades can be written off 20 years later as “just words”,  the plagiarism issue may get some traction in this election cycle, seeing as how the Messiah has been accused of pilfering as well.

– In 2006, Biden, attempting to pander to an Indian-American supporter, noted that, “In Delaware, the largest growth in 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.”

– Appearing on Chris Wallace’s show in 2006, Biden was asked how thought he would be able to relate to Southern voters in South Carolina. His response: “Better than anybody else. You don’t know my state [Delaware]. My state was a slave state. My state was a border state. My state has the 8th largest black population. It’s anything but a Northeast liberal state.”

– During a Presidential debate in 2007, Biden derided a gun owner who had asked about his stance on gun control by saying: “I don’t know that he’s mentally qualified to own that gun.”

– In response to a speech on appeasement that President Bush gave before the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, which many interpreted as a subtle jab at Obama, Biden declared, “This is bulls***.”

– And of course, there are the two remarks which will get the most play in the coming days, those regarding Senator Obama. Upon announcing his campaign, Biden gazed in awe at “the first, sorta mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean, a nice-looking guy” before throwing him under the bus a few months later by saying, “I think he can be ready but right now I don’t believe he is. The Presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

It is that latter sentiment that conservatives will use to bludgeon Obama’s newfound running mate about his plug-laden head. In fact, almost immediately after the VP announcement. the McCain campaign released an ad highlighting those comments, along with positive remarks Biden had made regarding McCain on The Daily Show.  Yes, Biden’s bombastic mouth can be a liability, especially at a time when one inappropriate remark can cost a candidate the race, but it is his mere presence that will be the biggest drag on the ticket. The very fact that Obama felt he needed Biden, a member of the establishment who is so antithetical to the “Change” theme upon which Obama has based his campaign, subliminally connotes that which Biden had earlier overtly declared: Obama is not ready. He needs a mentor. He needs someone to guide him, to sherpa him over the craggy cliffs of international relations and through the crevasses of legislative intrigue. As this realization sets in, many voters will begin to wonder, “Why is the one with no experience at the top of the ticket?” Obama surely accelerated this process by welcoming Biden as “the next President” at their introductory rally.

Although Joe Biden brings a fiery, loyal, attack-dog mentality to a campaign that was sorely in need of a spark, Republicans now have over thirty years of ammunition in their arsenal. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what Rush has to say on Monday…

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