Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rogue VP Candidate

And it's not Governor Palin.

Anyone who has watched Joe Biden over 35 years in the Senate might have a little bit of trouble recognizing the guy who is running to be Barack Obama's Vice President. Oh, yes, he looks like the same fellow. But traveling with Biden during this campaign has sometimes been like reporting on a politician packaged in shrink-wrap. While his windy, off-point pontification was the stuff of legend among his Senate colleagues, Biden is now leashed to a teleprompter even when he is talking in a high school gym that is three-quarters empty. The exposure hound who in recent years appeared more often than any other guest on the Sunday talk shows is a virtual stranger to the small band of reporters on his plane — less accessible than even Sarah Palin is to her traveling pack of bloodhounds. And Biden keeps to a schedule that provides a minimum of off-the-cuff encounters with voters, except across a rope line.

Gee, why would they have to hide a US Senator with over 35 years of experience?

Sticking to a script has never been one of Biden's stronger suits, as he demonstrated recently at a Seattle fund raiser. "Mark my words: it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy," Biden told the $1,000-a-ticket Democratic donors, who no doubt were startled to discover that the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse had ridden into the downtown Sheraton. "Remember, I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch — we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

Oh yeah. Wonder what kind of Vice President the Biden babbler might be?

It would have been nice to ask that question of Biden himself, but a campaign spokesman told me the Senator was suffering from a cold that made it a strain to give interviews. (I didn't glean evidence of any symptoms during the four speeches that I watched him give over two days.) The spokesman also said Biden would consider it "presumptuous" to talk about how he would perform the job for which he is running. Or maybe it simply wasn't in the script.