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Tough Guy Biden

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Following Joe Biden’s acceptance speech yesterday evening, many of the TV pundits gave the senator average marks. “Serviceable” was how I heard David Gergen describe it. O.k. Sure. Content-wise, it was a bit of a smorgasbord and the attacks on John McCain were predictable. But there was something I really liked about Biden’s speech.

The toughness.

After months of Barack Obama’s affability and after the grueling 2004 campaign featuring John Kerry’s aloofness and John Edwards’ sticky charm, I enjoyed listening to a Democrat who sounded like he could, if pushed, pop another fellow in the nose. He wasn’t angry, like some two-bit populist (or like Al Gore sounded at the 2000 convention). He was just firm in a way few Democrats seem to be these days. His tone reminded me a lot of the Texas Democrats I grew up admiring – like Anne Richards, like how Hillary Clinton wanted to sound throughout the campaign but never managed to pull off convincingly.

This is not an endorsement of Biden’s policies or politics. But I realized last night that Biden doesn’t just bring Obama a wealth of foreign policy experience. He gives Obama a guy who knows how to deliver the liberal message without sounding like a liberal. If Biden can keep his blowhard nature in check and not let his senatorial airs overpower his Wilmington roots, he’s going to help Obama quite a bit in this campaign.