What Biden Means
I was on Fox News this morning about what the Biden VP nomination means. You can watch it here:
If you don’t want to watch the clip, let me summarize my thoughts with a quick rundown of the good, bad and ugly of Biden’s nomination.
The Good: As the Drum Major Institute shows, Biden has a fairly progressive record on basic economic issues, and has gotten more progressive on specific issues like trade. He’s also been a strong voice opposing unilateral war against Iran. And rhetorically, he seems comfortable painting a stark contrast between Democrats and Republicans on issues.
The Bad: He is one of the most arrogant and conceited people in Washington - one of the jokes in D.C. when I was there is that Biden uses the term “I” more than anyone else. Because of this self-importance, he consequently shoots his mouth off in ways that can undermine progressives. For example, he has made insulting racial comments about African Americans and Indians. This might not only be dredged up by Republicans, but Biden may commit additional errors in his new platform as VP nominee. Additionally, Biden is an insider’s insider, having spent most of his life in Washington, D.C. That doesn’t exactly underscore Obama’s message of change.
The Ugly: He was one of the most ardent supporters of the credit card-industry written Bankrupty Bill of 2005, which was one of the most regressive pieces of economic legislation in the last generation. And though he cites his foreign policy experience as an asset, he used his position as one of Democrats’ top foreign policy voices to support the Iraq War.
So, all in all, the Biden choice is a shade on the good side of mediocre, though Obama’s willingness to anoint a senator who voted for two landmark travesties - the Bankruptcy Bill and Iraq War - gives us some disturbing clues about the Illinois senator’s attitude toward the economic progressive movement and the antiwar movement. It also shows how much work those movements have in front of them - and how, in particular, the antiwar movement’s strategy of focusing all attention on Republicans has actually helped create the situation whereby the Democratic Party feels perfectly comfortable rewarding supposed Serious Foreign Policy Voics like Biden even after they voted for the war.