With Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) as Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) running mate, you have a two-senator ticket – all talk, no executive action; no “favorite son” advantage in a key swing state with a huge chunk of votes in the electoral college; and a man whom voters resoundingly rejected when he was running for the top spot against Obama.    

So what does Biden do for Obama? Many Dems and Repubs, political operatives, and Senators who have served with both men were remarkably similar in their verdicts: Obama is clearly unqualified for the presidency, and Biden will help him close the deal with leery voters. Obama cannot compete against John McCain’s (R-AZ) experience – and voters are just not buying his claim that he has the judgment to be the leader of the free world without having put in his time – so he had to get his own McCain. A sampling:

From The Pundits 

† Michael Goodwin, New York Daily News: Biden, although he is a Catholic and has a working-class background, offers no gain in clear, measurable ways. Instead, he is schooled in the ways Obama is not – in Washington and in foreign policy. He can also make the “values” case, as he did repeatedly Saturday, that might be more believable to voters who have proved immune to Obama’s charm.

† Richard Cohen, The Washington Post: In choosing Biden, Obama reached into the very heart of the Washington establishment … In his many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, both as a member and as chairman, Biden has come to know just about all the players. … I applaud the choice of Biden, but the one thing he does not represent is change.

† Michael Berman, former deputy chief of staff to Vice President Walter Mondale:  Biden brings knowledge of the government as a whole and the system that Obama plans to change. To change a system you have to know how it really works. Biden knows how it works.

† Ed Rogers, White House staffer to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush: Americans should be glad that Obama did not choose another lightweight left-wing snob for the ticket. Joe Biden is good-natured, serious and truly qualified. Everyone who cares about good government and serious politics can imagine him as president, unlike Obama.

From The Senate 

† Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):  “We now have the ticket that’s going to bring the change we’ve all been hoping for.”

† Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services: “Joe Biden understands the challenges facing our country at home and abroad, and his long history of bipartisanship in the Senate will be a welcome asset.”

† Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Relations: “I have enjoyed for many years the opportunity to work with Joe Biden to bring strong bipartisan support to United States foreign policy.”

† Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), member of the Committee on Foreign Relations: “Joe Biden is the right partner for Barack Obama. His many years of distinguished service to America, his seasoned judgment and his vast experience in foreign policy and national security will match up well with the unique challenges of the 21st Century.”

From The Trenches 

† John McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt: “Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing – that Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”

† Former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a McCain surrogate:  “Senator Obama has made a choice more out of weakness than strength. “[Hillary Clinton (D-NY)] had 50 percent of the Democratic vote. Obama has 50 percent of the Democratic vote. You almost have to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid her as the vice presidential pick of the party.”

† IN GOP Chairman Murray Clark: “Obama has spent millions on his change message in Indiana. Biden has held onto a seat in the Senate since 1972. How does that represent change?”

† Diane Mantouvalos, co-founder of the anti-Obama Just Say No Deal Coalition: “It’s a total diss to Sen. Clinton … It just speaks volumes about how Barack Obama doesn’t stand for anything.”

As for Biden the man, the WaPo’s Cohen has this to say:

[I]f anyone – including, of course, Barack Obama – thinks that Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is going to play the usual role given to a vice presidential candidate, hatchet man, then the wrong man has been chosen. Biden is capable of the occasional gaffe, the sentence without end, the piquant but (literally) politically incorrect statement such as the one he made during the primary campaign – Obama is “not yet ready” to be president – but he has the essential decency that once was commonplace in Washington and now, alas, is taken for weakness and lack of proper fervor. Joe Biden is a gentleman.

Cohen’s sentiments were echoed by Stephen Marks, who’s spent 14 years delving deeply into politicians’ backgrounds as an opposition researcher. The Stiletto asked him via e-mail whether he had any insights into Biden that were not already mentioned in the dozens of articles she has read. He wrote back:

This might shock you, but of all the Dems running this year, I believed he was he only one qualified to be president.  Fine choice by Obama, as polls show experience and foreign policy Obama’s two biggest weaknesses.  Same exact reasons as Bush picking Cheney.

Marks adds that Biden is respected by senators on both sides of the aisle, and has no personal enemies in Washington, D.C. 

Finally, Marks calls Biden “one of the cleanest Democrats I have ever seen,” and doesn’t make much of the “hits” oppo researchers have on Biden – his ties to lobbyists and lawyers; his son, Hunter, having a consulting agreement with DE-based MBNA Corporation as his father was pushing for passage of a law making it harder for consumers who had run up huge credit card bills to file for bankruptcy – not to mention Sen. Biden having received $214,000 from MBNA employees and executives; that plagiarism scandal unearthed by the Dukakis campaign in 1988 that forced Biden from the race.

Marks points out that any Congressman – even the most honest – who has served several terms will have ties to lobbyists and they are meaningless unless you can prove that there was improper influence:

In 1996, when Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, and Steve Forbes attacked Bob Dole for taking money from so many special interests, Dole replied, ‘Show me one time ever when that influenced my vote or actions in the Senate.” They could not, and ended up looking pretty stupid.   

With Biden, though, it’s not so much his past that’s a problem but what he might say in the future that will need explaining or defending, throwing the campaign off stride – but then the campaign will have plenty of help (video) from the same folks who would eviscerate a Republican who made similar verbal blunders.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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