Saturday, August 23, 2008


Ok, so the VP choice is Biden. Fine by me. There will be plenty of discussion as to the significance of this choice pros and cons, but I personally doubt that the VP choice is going to be very significant. Biden will not alienate any large segment of the voting population as far as I can tell. I know that Kos doesn't think much of Biden for VP for example, a position confirmed by Jerome Armstrong at MyDD. (Although check both Kos and MyDD for other more favorable opinions as well.) But I see no sign that anyone is so hostile to Biden that the electoral consequences will be large in either direction. Also, note that while some folks will dislike the Biden pick, others will be happy. Some votes may be lost, others will be gained. Total affect will be small. I think that the common wisdom that the VP pick has little affect on election day is certainly correct.

Another point regards the framing of this discussed by Jerome Armstrong at MyDD. The NYT is already framing this as indicating weakness for Obama, he needs Biden to give him support on foreign policy.

I think, however, that points up a common error we on the left have been making for some time now. It is always possible to frame an action in a negative light. Yes by picking a Biden it will reinforce the frame that Obama needs help with foreign policy. By picking a non-Biden it will reinforce the frame that Obama is an arrogant newcomer who thinks he is above everybody else. You can frame any choice as negative. The trick is for Obama supporters to provide the best defense of Obama's that we can. Biden is a useful old hand in Washington, Biden is a good campaigner, Biden will challenge Obama's views on foreign policy providing useful critical review, and so on.

There is a joke out there, I've seen a few times, saying that if the Democrats were to nominate Jesus Christ for president, the Republicans would say "Never held an elected office, the guy has never held a job, never met a payroll and does nothing but stir up trouble." This is odd enough, but the real problem is that the Democratic response would be "That is so true, what were we thinking. Couldn't he at least have worked at Burger King for a while. Our guy is no good." That's where the problem lies. We need to defend our choices. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to come up with solid Democratic defenses of Jesus Christ.

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