Why I Think It Will Be Biden

I have to say, I really think the Obama campaign has done a downright terrbile job in the Veepstakes. For starters, they’ve put out entirely too many trial balloons, and set up too many “false alarms” as it were. While these sorts of things do give you the opportunity to see how much local buzz a guy like Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh really can generate, it also wears out the press/blogosphere. I think, at this point, even bloggers really are just tired of playing the Obama VP game, and are more exasperated with it than excited. On the other hand, false alarms give a chance for all the negatives around a potential pick to come up, and stick, as supporters of another candidate (or people who just don’t like the prospect in question) start running down the litany of reasons not to pick them. If you just made the pick, you might get some of that to be sure, but after it gets out of our system that’ll be that. But now, we’re all acutely aware of all of the drawbacks around Bayh/Sebelius/Kaine/Biden/etc., and for the most part a lot of us have staked out a particular candidate we’d really like to see, much moreso than we would have had Obama made the pick at the beginning of the month.

The calendar also presents a major problem. The announcement is going to have to compete with the weekend, the closing ceremonies, and/or the opening of the convention. If you wait until the convention, you have to “compete” with Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday speech (and it would seem to me that Tuesday is a no-go for big announcements). If you wait until Wednesday, then the acceptance speech steps on the announcement, or vice-versa. And there’s no “post-convention” period, since the Republican convention is the week immediately afterwards. So what does all of that mean? It means there’s no window at all to establish a brand/narrative for the pick.

Now this may sound processional and/or trivial, but it’s really quite important. If your vice-presidential pick is unknown and unbranded, then they basically have no practical value to you. They won’t be able to draw big crowds for campaign events, they won’t win over any undecided voters, and you’ll effectively leave it to the media to brand them for you, a crap shoot to be sure. Had Obama made the pick at the beginning of the month, they could have compensated with a biographical tour and events designed specifically around establishing the brand they want for their VP. The only way to compensate for the liability at this point is to pick a candidate who already has a brand deeply entrenched, at least with the media. And the only viable VP candidate who fits that bill to the degree I’d like is Joe Biden. Biden’s been in Washington long enough that the media has a firm opinion of him, much in the mold of the way they have a firm opinion of John McCain. Biden is considered to be a foreign policy expert who understands the working class better than most. Having Andrea Mitchell and Wolf Blitzer repeat that at every newsbreak can’t hurt the rollout of the pick. What would they say about Seblelius or Kaine, or even Bayh for that matter?

This isn’t necessarily an argument for Biden on the merits, although I do like him the best by that measure, it’s merely an observation as to why, perversely perhaps, Joe Biden has become the best political option as a result of a real mangling of the pick by the Obama campaign. It’s not the end of the world, but it does leave you wondering what exactly they intended to do over the past 3 months.