Biden's Experience

| Fri Aug. 22, 2008 12:31 PM EDT

BIDEN'S EXPERIENCE....Over at the mother blog — a genuinely apt name at this magazine — Jonathan Stein comments on today's paean to Joe Biden from David Brooks:

So Biden is a liberal, not-evil Cheney. I'll agree that's a good thing. I'll further agree that having people like David Brooks on-board with the Obama VP pick is a good thing for Obama. But I won't agree that experience is the primary consideration when choosing a VP. Is Brooks not aware how that undercuts Obama's entire case for the presidency? If we value experience, why settle for a ticket with a VP who has 25+ years of experience in Washington? Why not pick the ticket with the nominee who has 25+ years of experience in Washington?

I imagine I'm probably more sympathetic to Biden than Jonathan is in the first place, but even aside from that I don't think this is right. By picking Biden, what Obama would show is that he's not afraid of experienced colleagues. Think of JFK picking Johnson or Carter picking Mondale as their running mates. It's basically a show of dominance.

And aside from that, there really is some value in Biden's experience. Maybe. All four of the most recent Democratic presidents have chosen their VPs from the ranks of the Senate, and I'll grant that the results have been fairly mixed. Still, the Senate is pretty clearly going to be ground zero for getting Obama's program passed into actual legislation, and Biden has a pretty decent track record of working the legislative process. So on that score it might be genuinely helpful. (Ditto, of course, for Jack Reed.)

My Brooks-related concern would be a little different. Remember how conservatives were singing hosannahs to Obama back before he actually won the nomination? That, um, didn't last long. So call me cynical, but I wonder if Brooks will continue to think so highly of Biden if he gets the nomination? Or will he suddenly discover a column or five's worth of reasons that he's actually a fatal albatross? I'm not saying he'd do that. I'm just saying.

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