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We Need to Look Very Closely at Biden

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I can’t imagine a more obvious vice presidential choice for Barack Obama than Joe Biden. In fact, the choice was so obvious, I predicted it. In January. And I’m not a brilliant prognosticator.

Obama possesses weaknesses that are very similar to George Bush’s weaknesses in 2000. Like the Bush of eight years ago, Obama is considered affable and politically promising but lacks significant hands-on experience. Bush assuaged people’s worries about his inexperience by going with an old Washington insider. That worked. Makes sense why Obama, faced with a similar dilemma, would make a similar choice.

As it turned out, Dick Cheney was much more than window dressing. He has played a significant policy role in the Bush administration. So significant, in fact, that it’s very easy to imagine Bush’s presidency having been quite different if, say, Colin Powell were the VP. Vice presidents aren’t usually that significant. Ronald Reagan still would have been Reagan without George H. W. Bush. Bill Clinton would still have been Clinton without Al Gore. But Cheney has, in many ways, made Bush the president he is.

Will Biden have as much influence on Obama? We don’t know. But we do know we should look into Biden’s leadership style, political affiliations and negative qualities far more closely than we looked into Cheney back in 2000. Biden may just be an Obama prop. But I, for one, want this guy closely analyzed. My instinct is to like the pick. But if Biden is going to be a major player in an Obama administration, we can’t assume we already know everything we need to know. Look how that turned out last time.