Not so inevitable
“While Democrats have been salivating for more than a year about making the ‘08 race a referendum on outgoing Bush and the war in Iraq, McCain’s campaign has succeeded in making the election as much about Obama. And the Republican has brilliantly turned Obama’s celebrity status, big crowds and media infatuation into a synonym for shallowness,” Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call.
“A four-day lovefest in Denver is likely to energize Democrats attending the event and the millions of others who will follow it through the media, convincing all that a Democratic victory is nearly inevitable. That’s what happened in Los Angeles in 2000 and four years later in Boston, when first Al Gore and then Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) accepted their party’s nominations,” Mr. Rothenberg said.
“Given that, it’s very unlikely that even a single Democratic delegate will leave Denver on Friday believing that Obama will lose. But the more important question is whether two months from now Democrats will be so certain of victory, or whether they will start to wonder if they selected a nominee who made them feel good about themselves but lacked one or two of the basic qualities that voters are looking for in a commander in chief.
“For many undecided American voters, the question is likely to be a simple one: Do they feel comfortable with Obama sitting in the Oval Office, making decisions that will affect people’s lives, including the nation’s security?
“Only a few months ago, it was Clinton’s campaign raising questions about Obama’s readiness for the presidency. McCain has picked up that message and delivered it repeatedly and with considerable effectiveness. The Illinois Democrat needs to address that problem quickly, and he’ll need more than soaring rhetoric about change and unity to be successful.”
“Obama and Biden will try to frame the presidential race as a normal Democratic-Republican choice. If they can do that, they should win,” New York Times columnist William Kristol writes.
“That would be far more difficult against a McCain-Lieberman ticket. The charge that McCain would merely mean a third Bush term would also tend to fall flat. And an unorthodox ‘country first’ Lieberman selection would reinforce what has been attractive about McCain, and what has allowed him to run ahead of — though not yet enough ahead of — the generic Republican ballot,” Mr. Kristol said.
“A Lieberman pick should help with ticket splitters. But can such a ticket hold the support of pro-lifers, conservatives and Republicans? If you’re conscientiously pro-life, you will have reservations about a pro-abortion-rights V.P. If you’re a proud conservative, Lieberman hasn’t been one. If you’re a loyal Republican, you’d much prefer someone from within the ranks.
“But if you’re pro-life, conservative and-or Republican, you certainly don’t want Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running the country. If a McCain-Lieberman ticket is the best way to thwart that prospect, you could probably learn to live with it — even perhaps to like it.
“And Hillary supporters could protest Obama’s glass ceiling by voting for John McCain and the Democratic Party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee.”
A liberal ticket
“Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, Barack Obama‘s choice as his vice presidential running mate, may be the most well-liked person in Washington,” Fred Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal.
“He’s affable and gregarious and nice to everybody, including the press and Republicans. When conservative Sen. Jesse Helms retired from Congress in 2002, the featured speaker at a luncheon honoring him was none other than Mr. Biden,” Mr. Barnes said.
“Brit Hume, the Fox News anchor, tells the story of having been asked by Mr. Biden why he put the Delaware senator in his TV reports from Capitol Hill so infrequently. ‘Senator, you’re a windbag,’ Mr. Hume told him. Several years later, Mr. Biden approached Mr. Hume again and said he’d been right in his assessment. It’s hard not to like a major politician who admits a fault, sincerely or not.
“Mr. Biden’s popularity in the Washington political community — home to most of the pundit class — helps explain why his selection by Mr. Obama received such favorable reviews. True, some Republicans declared Mr. Biden a bad choice because he’s verbose, bombastic and gaffe-prone. And indeed those are flaws, but hardly fatal ones. The Obama-leaning media is quite capable of ignoring them. …
“But what Mr. Obama has done is create an all-liberal ticket — a very, very liberal one, at that — in a nation whose electorate is still center-right. The political mood may be a bit more centrist today than it was in 2004, but it’s still far more conservative than liberal. And liberal Democratic presidential tickets usually lose, as John Kerry did with John Edwards as his running mate in 2004.”
“By choosing Sen. Joseph Biden as his vice-presidential running mate, Barack Obama sent three messages. The first two are implicit admissions that Hillary Clinton had a point in the primaries. The third tells us more of what Obama means by ‘change,’” New York Post columnist Amir Taheri writes.
“Biden is supposed to make up for Obama’s lack of the knowledge and experience needed to lead on national security and international affairs. And the Delaware senator, with his humble working-class origins, is also meant to reassure the ‘simple folk’ that Obama seems to be losing,” Mr. Taheri said.
“But the third message is that ‘change’ means a return not to the Camelot of President John Kennedy, but to the foreign policies of Jimmy Carter. For Biden, an early supporter of Carter in his quest for the presidency in 1976, shares the former president’s view of the world and the United States’ place in it.
“In 2004, I was astonished to hear Biden doing his own bit of America-bashing in front of an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos [in Switzerland]. The U.S., he claimed, had no moral authority to preach democracy in the Middle East. ‘We don’t have much of a democracy ourselves,’ he said mockingly. ‘Remember our own presidential election; remember Florida.’”
• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/536-3285 or email@example.com.