This afternoon, Delaware Senator Joe Biden gave his first speech as Barack Obama's pick to be Vice President. Not that I doubted it before, but he proved himself to be — by far — the best public speaker of Obama's short list. It's probably also fair to say that the speech itself was a preview of what John McCain and his eventual Vice Presidential nominee will be up against between now and November: a good orator who has no problem swinging at his opponent, and equally little problem landing a few good punches.Despite some initial misgivings stemming from some comments he made about Obama during the primaries, the Democratic Party running another 2-Senator ticket, the relative electoral importance of the state of Delaware and his support for a less-than-progressive bankruptcy bill, Biden might be what the Obama camp needs (as opposed to what one supposedly fair-minded reporter decided was just an un-self-confident choice). Most people today are focusing on Biden's foreign policy credentials, his age and experience or his strong progressive roots, but what stood out to me in his speech was his willingness to use the opportunity not to strive for lofty, inspiring, hope-filled rhetoric, but to rip right into John McCain in the way that many Democrats have been waiting for Obama to do. Biden hit McCain early and often in his speech today. He started off by repeating Obama's standard lines about respecting his service and so on, but only as a way to lend credibility to his zingers that allowed the crowd to boo McCain's stances on the economy, energy policy, Iraq and his ties to President Bush. He mocked McCain's many houses. And he found the trump card to McCain's constant refrain about being a POW:
These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader.
He was even willing to cite his long friendship with John McCain as a reason for his "disappointment" in the man, and to use it to lend credibility to his criticisms. It was everything the start of the attacks on McCain had to be without betraying Obama's ultimate message, and Obama got to sit there and look thoughtful while Biden led the charge. It's a smart choice, and a great way for Obama's campaign to have it both ways. I'm not going to pretend like Biden was the choice that I wanted. This morning I spent a while reading about why he was or wasn't good and regretting what, at one point, could've been — a female nominee, like Kathleen Sebelius or even Hillary Clinton, or a raging liberal that never made the short list. But watching the speech this afternoon, I have to admit that Biden doesn't seem like the establishment choice, or just the choice made to burnish Obama's foreign policy credentials. He looks like the choice made to allow the campaign to go after John McCain with both barrels, and that, if nothing else, will make for an interesting couple of months. "This Is No Ordinary Time, This is No Ordinary Election" [BarackObama.com] Biden's Description Of Obama Draws Scrutiny [CNN] Obama Chooses Biden as Running Mate, Guarantees Important Delaware Win [Gawker] Bankruptcy Bill And Joe Biden Are Evil [MyDD.com] Analysis: Biden Pick Shows Lack Of Confidence