53 thoughts on “Obama picks “Mr. Clean” for Veep

  1. aly hawkins

    Speaking as an Obama supporter, I’m delighted. Biden fills perceived gaps, he loves the thrill of the fight (cue “Eye of the Tiger” montage) and I think his shoot-from-the-hipness is a great counterweight to Obama’s more measured, left-brained persona. I don’t agree with every bill he’s supported (see BAPCPA) but he’s done far more (and far more good) in the Senate than many of his colleagues.

    Two thoughts regarding Biden’s penchant for verbal gaffes: (1) Authenticity is kinda refreshing; (2) I think there is a difference between saying outrageous things that obviously don’t reflect your worldview and saying outrageous things that do. There are a lot of people, especially older adults who came of age pre-PC-mania, who can sympathize with saying the right things in the “wrong” way. (My grandfather is one of these people.)

    One last thing: Who’s bringing the popcorn for the Biden-Romney debate?

  2. michael lee Post author

    Aly, my issue with Biden comes in that second paragraph. Whenever someone on the left side of the aisle says that “you cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent,” there is a presumption that the statement doesn’t reflect their worldview, and that it is simply a verbal gaffe.

    When someone on the right side of the aisle says something similar, the presumption is that it indicates deeply held, but publicly hidden, racial hatred. See Trent Lott, George Allen. Same kind of comment, similar off-the-cuff type of circumstance, two different media reactions.

    That starts to grate, after a while.

    Romney would be a very politic choice, but I think Lieberman would be more fun.

  3. aly hawkins

    I see your point, Michael. But I will point out that Biden’s misspeaks haven’t done him any favors, except perhaps in the “authenticity is kinda refreshing” category. I don’t know about the media reactions (that particular clip is certainly getting a lot of play, and I’m pretty sure I saw it lampooned on The Daily Show shortly after he let fly); I was speaking from my own (absolutely unbiased) POV.

    Yes, both Lieberman and Huckabee would be more fun than Romney. Heck, just about anybody would be more fun than Romney.

  4. michael lee Post author

    Yup! I think this was a very smart political choice. It makes the ticket more appealing to social conservatives, makes it younger, and picks up at least some disaffected Hillary supporters.

    The analysis of which groups get picked up and lost by the veep picks reminded me of this onion video.

  5. aly hawkins

    I think McCain will have to spend the next 2 months making the case to his own party that his vice president is ready to be president (really, the only question of substance that matters). A lot of people who would likely cast their vote for him will question his judgment, and since the other team has been hammering on that theme already, I think it hurts him rather than helps.

    On a personal level, I have plenty of problems with this choice. But I don’t really want to have that conversation here.

  6. michael lee Post author

    There’s a very ugly smear campaign starting at DailyKos, saying that her downs syndrome child is actually her unwed daughter’s baby, and Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover it up.

    Way to stay classy, Kos.

  7. Sharolyn

    I cannot imagine having three additional children than I have now, the youngest being five months old and having downs syndrome.


    And oh yeah, then becoming the Vice President of the United States.

    My first question was: Are you breastfeeding?

  8. aly hawkins

    Mike – I am colossally embarrassed by many lib bloggers’ reactions. Why in the hell would you make shit up to debate when there are plenty of legitimate concerns to respectfully address??

  9. michael lee Post author

    we are in complete agreement on that, Aly. I feel the same colossal embarrassment when my inbox gets stuffed full of “Obama is a muslim, who said he wouldn’t stand with America!” emails.

    Which is why I’ll limit my reaction to “Kos is an ass” instead of “liberals are smearing …”

  10. michael lee Post author

    Sharolyn, I think you’re touching on an interesting point.

    I think there will absolutely be a double standard applied to Palin, and her obligations to (or abandonment of) her family as she hits the campaign trail. That standard is never applied to men, of course, but a female candidate with a young family?

    I wonder how pundits will scramble to find PC ways to raise that question.

  11. aly hawkins

    Mike – If it’s any consolation (it is a small one for me), there is now a hue and cry over at Kos regarding the baby smear.

    I actually wondered about the nursing-mom-VP thing and whether or not we’ll actually see some backlash from the very demographic McCain seems to be shooting for (I think it must be conservative, pro-life moms…though I admit to still being a bit mystified). It’s not like being VP is a 9 to 5 thing. On top of that, there are many women evangelicals who believe staying at home, rather than working, is the ideal.

    I admit that I just don’t get the logic behind this pick. Though Dobson seems to think it’s a homerun.

  12. michael lee Post author

    We’ll be up at my mom’s house this next week. I’ll let you know then what the conservative base thinks of Palin, the working mom :-)

  13. Chad

    Im sorta sad that no one’s gonna let me drag this into a commentary on how good looking she is. It’s like you guys are adults or something.


  14. Linda

    My question is…
    Is this the best candidate in the GOP for VP?
    Or…is this a token female who 20 months ago was a small town mayor in Alaska?
    Is this not an assault to the intellegence as well as the career path of every dedicated, successful female (and male) serving within the GOP?
    …okay…I just had to get that out.
    What do your think Aly?

  15. aly hawkins

    PC – You are awesome.

    Chad – I didn’t respond because she’s so smoking hot that I’m turning gay.

    Linda – Your questions gets into my more personal concerns with this pick, and I’m reluctant to rant. Suffice it to say, I think there are many more qualified women and men in the Republican party who might have “balanced the ticket” (in a myriad of directions) without causing so many question marks about McCain’s state of mind.

  16. Chad

    I kissed the Vice President and I liked it.
    The taste of her moose-flavored chap-stick.
    I kissed the Vice President and I liked it.
    I hope my congressional representative don’t mind it.

    This is my new favorite thread.

  17. JC

    As a conservative, I am actually excited by this choice, and I have spent the last few days trying to figure out why. I am, additionally, quite curious as to why Obama-leaning folks seem to be so negative about it when, on the surface, (1) either this is a poor choice and they should be happy that it all but secures the election for Obama, or (2) it is a woman who has climbed rapidly in her profession (even if we stop at governor) which typically is heralded by my more liberal friends.

    I’ll provide my answers to why I like her as I am unqualified to answer for her critics.

    1. She actually has executive experience, albeit of shorter duration than ideal. She is running an organization at the top…balancing budgets, commanding a military force, making personnel decisions, creating a vision, etc. Senators…and Obama specifically… do not have that level of responsibility. It doesn’t guarantee success (see Jimmy Carter), but it can be a great foundation for success (see Ronald Reagan). By the way, she has an 80% approval rating…she must be doing something right.

    2. In her role as governor, she has demonstrated a willingness to take on her own party and not just toe the line. Once again, I am looking for attributes, qualities and characteristics that may make someone a great leader. This is different, say, from voting the party line 100% of the time like some senators. Honestly, anyone can do that and stay out of trouble with their party and constituents. But how much real value are they adding? That goes for both parties by the way.

    3. She is a “normal” person-not a career politician. She even has a pregnant 17-year old daughter. This doesn’t qualify her to be VP of the US of A, but I must admit that I like the fact that she seems to have grown up like most of the rest of us and perhaps can identify with the struggles of the average citizen better than most. Unlike, say Ted Kennedy or Mitt Romney, who can only imagine what the average citizen must be going through year in and year out.

    4. Some of our best leaders, certainly in business, have emerged early in their careers because they have demonstrated the attributes of leadership: vision, willingness to stand alone, courage, people and organizational skills, etc.-and are identified early and given responsibility “before they have earned their stripes”. The problem with experience and “earning your stripes” is that sometimes it can turn you into part of the problem (“the bureaucracy”) rather than part of the solution. These folks tend to be more passionate, take more risks, see things a different way and are therefore more creative, and don’t accept things the way they are. They typically are much more challenging of the status quo.

    Having said all that, I don’t know Sarah Palin. Like the rest of you, I have only read what is currently available about her. But I find myself liking her background and her style. Do I wish she had more time in her executive role with more accomplishments? Yes, it would certainly make the choice easier to defend. Does that make her a poor choice or political suicide? Absolutely not. Every conservative I have spoken to since the announcement is re-energized by this choice. Romney would have been a safe choice and, frankly in my opinion, a good choice. Same with Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Joe Liberman would have been political suicide for the Republican Party.

    There, that ought to provide some grist for the mill.

  18. Chad

    I have 2 thoughts…

    The first actually applies to both the criticisms leveled at both Obama and now Palin. Hey… remember when the government was made of people who did it as a public service and then returned to their regular vocations? Me neither. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Isn’t the whole idea that the people would govern themselves, instead of this perpetual ruling class of politicians? My beef with government is often the same as it is with church structures. We are allowing ourselves to be spoonfed, rather then digging in ourselves. We are tolerating career politicians, and in these cases, punishing those who had something better to do as recently as 5-6 years ago.

    The second is this… and I’m speaking here as a person who grew up in a conservative environment but has grown increasingly skeptical about the sincerity of the Republican party… and this has also been touched on by Aly and Mike as well… but some liberals in this country in the media and even in everyday encounters, are showing their true stripes with the way they’re talking about her. It’s gleeful, spiteful, mean, and offensive to someone like me who’s a truly undecided voter. I was glad to see Obama take such a strong stance against it.

  19. aly

    Hey, JC. I’m appalled by the media circus this whole thing has created, and doubly appalled (tho not surprised) by the role the liberal blogosphere has played in creating it. I don’t like mean people, righties or lefties.

    Two things:

    (1) I’m not conservative, and I disagree with most of Palin’s positions. I’m not upset about this at all. I mean, was McCain supposed to choose a liberal? However, I am surprised at how conservative Palin is. I’m not the most informed voter, but aren’t elections about winning the middle? (If McCain really thought he could peel off a substantial number of former Clinton supporters with Palin’s selection, I think he must have been sniffing paint.)

    (2) I didn’t call McCain’s decision “political suicide” because I have a problem with Palin. I called his pick “political suicide” because “a lot of people who would likely cast their vote for him will question his judgment, and since the other team has been hammering on that theme already, I think it hurts him rather than helps.” In light of the madness of the last few days, I stand by this statement. It just doesn’t seem to me that McCain took this decision seriously or did his homework.

    But I’ve been wrong before.

  20. JC

    I love this place because smart people with different points of view have really thoughtful responses to provocative ideas, events, etc. First of all, I totally agree with Chad about the professional politician. I got pretty involved in the Republican process this year…delegate to local assemblys, etc…and I have lost all my energy because most of the people that I run into on the Republican side (and I suspect based on things I read/hear that it is most likely the same on the Democratic side) are narrow- and close-minded . And the politicians that I see running appear to be setting themselves up for a lifetime in politics. I would much rather see many more business people involved than lawyers, for example. Men and women who have hired/fired, inspired, have vision, meet objectives, balance budgets, are held accountable or they lose their jobs. Know how to get things done. On this we can totally agree. This is not the strength of lawyers…and never will be.

    The issue McCain had/has is that many in the Republican party already think he is too liberal so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he chose a conservative for his VP. The fear that many conservatives have, me included, is that if we keep compromising to the middle or aim at the middle, we begin to undermine some very strong principles that are the foundation of conservatism. These are principles that as a country we can disagree on, but as a party should be pretty much inviolate: Right to Life, free market economy, smaller government therefore lower taxes, etc.

    I like McCain because he does NOT just vote the party line and go along. This scares the ___ out of a lot of conservatives, but not me. We must find ways to move forward or we move backwards.

    I respect your views Aly, and I am not going to suggest for a minute that McCain, or any other candidate, picks a VP without an eye toward the electorate…of course they do….exactly the reason Obama chose Biden….experience to complement his lack of experience. If he wanted to really support his theme of “Change”, why didn’t he bring in a Washington outsider? Because people are concerned that his lack of experience may get him in trouble and are comforted by having an experienced Biden by his side. I honestly don’t know if McCain thinks he can pick up Hillary votes or not, but I think Palin shores up McCain’s conservative credentials and has the raw material to be a great public servant in the truest sense of the word. I believe all we are debating is whether she has enough experience. I, for one, think she has enough.

  21. michael lee Post author

    JC, replace the word “politics” with the word “Academia”, and you’ve written a pretty good summary of my current frustrations with our university!

  22. corey

    1. yes, Chad, she’s hot. Like a sitcom mom.

    2. ||*begin uninformed rant that is rife with stereotype*|| I think I’m frustrated that Palin’s family is the target demographic of the Dems. Isn’t the DemParty the fighting voice for the empowered soccer mom and teenage daughter with out-of-wedlock baby? The obvious rebuttal is that the DemParty wishes to lend a hand to this demo but doesn’t necessarily want them to RUN the country. I get that, I suppose, but as a non-voter and someone who is apolitical (tragically undecided), the arguments against Palin seem more like politicalizing than any conversation that would flow intelligently between two individuals in a Starbucks.

  23. michael lee Post author

    Most of the people I know who lean left politically are pretty disgusted with the way her family is being pulled into the campaign by a handful of smug muckrakers. I imagine it’s similar to the way I feel when people from my political “team” forward a million emails warning us all that Obama is a secret Muslim, who eats babies and poops on American flags. That sort of thing.

    I do think most people are interested in talking about her lack of experience (fair game, in my book) and what they perceive as a VP selection made in order to shore up the social conservatives, instead of a VP choice that was made based on readiness to assume the role of commander-in-chief. Those are legitimate points of contention, I think.

  24. Chad

    FYI, I meant heat in the “I’m attacking everything Obama’s ever said,” sorta way.

    Although I did feel like she was flirting with me, specifically, during the speech.

  25. aly

    Chad – I thought she gave a heckuva speech. If it was meant to “fire up the base,” as they say, I think it was a resounding success. Unfortunately for Palin, it probably also fired up the Dem base, which, as I understand from voter registration tallies, is larger this year than the GOP’s (so far). McCain needs moderate and independent voters to win, and I can’t see Palin’s speech appealing to many of them. But maybe convincing middle-of-the-road undecideds is his job tonight. We’ll see.

    On a personal note, I found the speech snarky and contemptuous. I thought the Dems kept things pretty respectful last week (yep, I’m biased), and was thrown off by the nastiness. I was baffled by what seemed to be collective demonization of community organizers (who are the new arugula-eating elites, apparently). Um…wasn’t Tuesday night’s RNC theme “Service”?

  26. Chad

    I’d like to add that while I enjoyed her speech for the sheer ballsy spectacle of it, I was a little mortified at the hoo-rah pandering to the baser nature of the demographic.

    I continually want to beg the Democratic speakers to stop sounding (to my ears) like Karl Marx, and I continually want to beg the Republicans to stop sounding (to my ears) like Yosemite Sam. Where is the Republocrat party again?

    For example… last night she was ripping Obama for his failure to talk about the word “Victory,” when it came to Iraq. So, Sarah, I see your point, but I have two issues:

    1. Obama was (famously) against the war from the beginning, so the idea of victory has already gone bye-bye. To fault him for not talking about kicking ass and taking names is intellectually disingenuous, IMO.

    2. It’s a little hard for me, personally, to hear about “Victory” in a war of liberation that has killed (at last estimate) 85,000-95,000 of the locals. Yes, Republicans, I understand that we need to talk about finishing this thing and NOT having the country implode on itself, but to talk about “Victory,” in what feels like an attempt to conjure the image of “American tanks rolling into Evil Berlin” sort of victory is ringing pretty hollow to this undecided voter.

    Iraq, at best, is a necessary evil, and is at worst, a colossal and inexcusable blunder. A blunder that is preventing us from dealing with some pretty menacing situations that are developing across the globe. If you guys would start upping the ante in terms of your discourse about this thing, I’d stop calling myself an undecided voter and return to the party of my youth.

  27. Chad

    Aly -

    I agree, actually, that I think the Democrats went out of their way to be respectful towards McCain. My guess is that Republicans are pretty peeved about the way Palin has been treated this past week and are ready to spit some nails.

  28. JC

    I agree with Michael, Chad and Aly…and I am an unapologetic Republican. I also agree with Aly that my side goes too far at times. I think Gov. Palin did exactly what she needed to do last night…fire up the Republican base, which has been sleepy at best. I think she was too strong for the moderates and Hillary supporters. She showed she can take a punch and punch back twice as hard if necessary. OK, now that we have all that established, let’s use the next two months to discuss the very serious issues facing this country. Republicans will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket (that wasn’t a sure thing a couple of months ago), Dems will vote for the Obama/Biden ticket (I assume), and Moderates and others should listen carefully to the solutions these two tickets propose because they are significantly different. As always, I will support whichever side wins.

    p.s. I thought Obama handled the Palin-daughter-pregnancy news with class (at least the news clip that I saw). I think he is a decent man.

  29. Chad

    Aly -

    I want to say this in public, because it’s been something that I’ve been thinking for a long time. I think that you exemplify someone who values relationship over being settling for merely being “right,” and that’s something I’ve always admired about you. I think it’s even more admirable because you’re not shy or apologetic about your passion over your opinions and beliefs.

    You were the first Christian I knew who had a liberal bent, and I grew to very much enjoy our debates (wait… you think WHAT about Martin Luther?!?!) because I knew that at the end you weren’t going to make me feel like a jerk if I decided not to see it your way. You also taught me that there is more than one viable political worldview within the realm of those who love Jesus.

    I slathering you with embarrassing praise right now, deal with it. :)

  30. Chad

    Actually… I have this thought that this blog might be a little model for how to conduct political and philosophical debates without resorting to name calling and sniping during this hotly contested political season.

    Unless you’re against free will, and then all bets are off, of course.

  31. aly hawkins

    Wow, Chad. That means a lot to me. I have to admit that when I moved into the Reisser Commune all those years ago, I was nervous. Living with such a gracious conservative family was an excellent way to throw my theories about dialoguing well into the petri dish to see what survived. (And I still swear it wasn’t me who stole the Bush 2000 yard sign…but I admit to being secretly glad.)

    I realize that the post-partisan rhetoric sounded loud and long from the Obama camp is exactly that: rhetoric (for the most part, at least). But rhetoric or not, that’s the main thing that has inspired me about the campaign. I really want to believe, silly and naive as it might sound, that most people on both sides are genuinely of goodwill and that if some of us (on both sides) take a few deep, cleansing breaths and remember the Golden Rule, we might actually do some good together (if we can agree on what “good” means).

    Damn idealism.

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