Joe Biden: The Democratic Dick Cheney

Joe Biden: The Democratic Dick Cheney


Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as his running mate raises some of the same interesting questions that George W. Bush’s selection of Dick Cheney did back in 2000.

Here me out.

If Obama/Biden wins, Joe Biden will be 66 years old when he takes office as Vice-President.

If they are re-elected in 2012, he’ll be 70 years old when the second Obama/Biden Administration starts unless, for some reason, he’s replaced on the ticket. While that’s possible, it hasn’t happened in American politics since FDR replaced John Nance Garner with Henry Wallace in 1940, and replaced Henry Wallace with Harry S. Truman in 1944. Since then, there have been calls for various President’s to dump their Vice-President when the run for re-election — Eisenhower in 1956, Bush I in 1992, Bush II, 2004 — but they’ve never pulled the trigger.

It’s unlikey that Obama would either.

Finally, Biden will be 73 years old on Election Day 2016, and by then will have been in politics for 46 years.

Does anyone seriously think that, at this point, he’d be a candidate for President to succeed Barack Obama ?

That’s about as unlikely as it was that Dick Cheney would ever run to succeed George W. Bush.

So, like Cheney, Biden will in some sense be an unfettered Vice-President who won’t have to worry about whether his actions would have any real impact on his political future.

And, like the Republicans in 2008, the Democrats in 2016 would enter the election cycle without a Vice-President serving as the clear successor to an outgoing President. By then, Hillary Clinton would be 69 years old and, quite arguably, beyond what ever is left of her prime. So, the Democrats would have a wide-open field yet again.

More than one political pundit criticized Bush’s choice of Cheney, and his decision to keep Cheney on the ticket in 2004, because it left the Republican Party without a clear successor; something which arguably resulted in the nomination of John McCain, a candidate whose history of bucking GOP trends, and annoying various parts of the base in the process, is well-known.

Arguably, Obama is setting his party up for the same problem in eight years by choosing a running mate who in all likelihood is not going to run to suceed him.

Thoughts ?

  • Grant Gould

    Of course, a cynical person might say that it’s a way to leave the road open for a future Clinton run without needing to actually pick Clinton as the VP…

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Its all about Obama’s theme, change, after eight years, we’ll want something new

  • Rob

    So are you officially stating that McCain is too old to run for president?

    I will be waiting for your Obama endorsement.

  • stu

    here me out?

    put the electronic typewriter down, mogwai.

  • http://none g. Anton

    Obama has just named Biden as his vice-presidental candidate. I would describe Biden as a John McLain with brains. I’m not sure that a John McMlain with brains is really such a good thing. For example, to quote Biden about John McClain, (I paraphase for brevity), “My good friend John McLain is a real asshole”. With good friends like Biden, who needs enemies?

  • NYkrinDC

    I agree with you on Sen. Biden. He will be too old to run for President, and if he becomes Vice-President, will likely not have to think about how his actions could impact his political future. However, given that Sen. Obama has portrayed himself as a candidate for change, this may reinforce his message, since he can argue that Joe Biden not only gives him a partner with Washington experience to get things done, but not having to worry about a political future beyond the presidency, will work hard to achieve the changes candidate Obama promises…I see the democratic slogan now being something along the lines of “The change we want, with a steady and experienced hand to guide it.” That strengthens Obama’s change theme, while also soothing concerns that he he does not have the experience to either achieve such change, or to craft the right policies that minimize the damages it could have.

    As for looking beyond 2008, to 2012, its likely that the President Obama may want to replace then vice president Biden with someone younger to set the party up for 2016. However, and I’m sure this is a concern in many minds, given the historic nature of Sen. Obama’s campaign, by 2012 there may be a President Biden. Hopefully not, but there are plenty of nuts out there, as well as terrorists, that such a scenario is not too far fetched.

    Of course, I fear this discussion may have just put me on some sort of watchlist… :(

  • Bison

    I just don’t get this pick.
    Joe Biden really came out of know where for me and unfortunately I think it’s a bad choice. Sure I’m going to vote Obama / Biden but I just feel like there were so many other good people he could have chosen.
    Biden has a lot of skeletons in his closet, let’s hope the repugs don’t drag them all out.

  • feeboo

    ‘Hear’ me out?

    Joe Biden is a fine pick for VP. He’s there to help the negative half of Obama’s campaign. He comes up with some pretty funny zingers but he’s also unimportant enough to not take away from Obama’s eventual win. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he has to say over the next few months. Should be pretty entertaining.

  • bubbles

    Grant Gould: I doubt Clinton will be a presidential candidate again if Obama wins. I’m taking a guess that Obama will nominate her for the Supreme Court if John Paul Stevens or another one of those old bums dies/resigns.

  • wj

    Before we worry that Obama might be setting the Democrats up for problems in 2016, consider:
    – in 2012, the reasons for choosing Bidan this time will be gone.
    – in 2012, several of the young Democrats who were hyped (but probably not seriously considered) as VP picks this year will have four more years of experience under their belts.

    Which leads to the distinct possibility of Obama picking someone else for VP at that point. Presto! No “lack of a Vice President serving as a clear successor.” The main issue in 2012, I suspect, will not be whether Obama should “dump” Bidan, but whether Bidan decides that he’s ready/willing to retire.

  • marguerite fitzpatrick

    Sorry i’m not interested in the Dem/Republican choices and choose not to vote for either party.

  • kranky kritter

    I agree with WJ.

    Look at the extremely high level of presumption that is required to worry about Biden’s supposed effects upon the 2012 and 2016 races. Frankly I don’t think Obama or any other presidential candidate would be so stupid that they’d choose NOT to pick the person they felt made the best ticket, just because it could cause problems with future tickets.

    And as WJ also suggests, there’s no real reason why the VP nom for 2012 couldn’t be swapped out if that was desirable…you just ask Biden to fall on his sword and say he’s sick or tired or wants to spend more time with his family, etc, etc. I imagine that it’s a common (maybe even “de rigeur”) part of the conversation that the VP nom agrees to step aside quietly and gracefully if asked.

  • marty park

    what does Biden do with his senate race now? His seat is up this year, right?

  • Doug Mataconis


    So are you officially stating that McCain is too old to run for president?

    No, that’s not what I’m saying.

    I will be waiting for your Obama endorsement.

    Sorry, I don’t vote for guys who think the idea of taking more of my money is a good thing.

  • khaki

    Doug, you make $250,000 or more per year? Nice. What do you do?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Frankly, what I make a year is none of your damn business.

    Given what Sen. Obama has said about increasing capital gains taxes and not renewing the 2001 tax cuts, among other things, what I make really doesn’t matter — under his plan, my taxes will go up. I’ve run the numbers, so I know.

    And, oh yeah, even if his plan didn’t impact me personally, I’d still oppose it and vote against him.

    And, no, I’m not voting for McCain either.

    Okay ?

  • Doug Mataconis

    Several you have addressed the point that we cannot know today what might happen in 2012 if Obama/Biden wins in November.

    This is true. It’s possible, but given recent American history not likely, that Obama would ask Biden to step-aside at that point and selected as his Vice-President someone who would be something of a political heir. It’s possible, but, again, not likely given recent American history, that Biden would decide to retire (although why one would retire from a job that carries prestige, little direct responsibility, and the possibility that you might become President someday is unclear to me), thus letting Obama choose a new running mate in 4 years.

    But, of course, all those things were possible eight years ago when George W. Bush picked Dick Cheney. Four years ago, in fact, there were many people who thought that Bush should in fact ask Cheney to step aside, or that Cheney should do so voluntarily, in deference to someone who would have become the automatic frontrunner for 2008 (Bush’s subsequent political problems notwithstanding).

    Neither one of those things happened, and if they don’t happen again with Obama/Biden, the Democrats would be in the same interesting position that Republicans found themselves in 2008.

  • Jim S


    What numbers have you run? I assume that in spite of your claims concerning McCain that you are running numbers based solely on RNC claims? Because that’s really the only way they work out that way.

    You write

    Sorry, I don’t vote for guys who think the idea of taking more of my money is a good thing.

    Thank you for showing what kind of co-blogger Justin has invited in. Because frankly, I’ve never had any respect for anyone who makes hyper-simplistic, ultra-ideological statements like that. Justin, call it what you will, but your new co-blogger has absolutely a snowball’s chance of ever having an iota of respect from anyone who isn’t a Republican or a Libertarian. He reminds me of the comments section of some of the loonier right wingers.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I’ve run my own tax numbers compared with the very-junior Senator from Illinois’ own proposals, okay ?

    And, as I’ve already said, even if his proposals had no impact on my personal taxes, I would still oppose them.

    As for my personal biases. Yes, I am a libertarian. As such, I cannot support Barack Obama’s economic socialism or John McCain’s military nationalism.

    Any questions ?

  • Jim S

    Nope, your invocation of socialism just reinforces my opinion of your political stance. Hopelessly ideological and ignorant.

  • Ryan

    At least Biden is better than Palin.