Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Gift

Senator Barrack Obama has chosen his Vice Presidential running mate. It is Delaware Senator Joseph Biden. This is a gift.

Joe Biden did not run for the Presidency for the first time in this election. He first ran over 20 years ago. He was then found to be a man of questionable ethics. It was discovered that he plagiarized major portions of a speech given by - at the time - British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. Biden used Kinnock's words as his own without any attribution.

That embarrassing discovery ultimately caused Biden to drop out of the race. I don’t think that voters ought to forget that. Character is a big issue in my mind and Joe Biden doesn’t have the character to be a heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world in my view. If I were John MCain this ‘pick’ would make me very happy. And it makes McCain's ‘pick’ all the more important. He should choose carefully. If either of the two Jewish candidates he’s considering – Lieberman or Canter - were to be chosen, it will be a far better selection, in my view.

During the democratic primaries, Joe Biden was quite the attack dog against Obama. He is a very verbose and long winded speaker - a man that does not mince words. And throughout his run in the primaries he constantly attacked Obama’s judgment and lack of experience - especially in foreign policy . There ought to be plenty of quotes the MCain campaign can use against Obama. I expect to see a lot of Joe Biden in Republican ads.

The one impression that stays with me when I think of Joe Biden is ‘loose cannon’. His ‘shoot from the lip’ style of responding to questions is not the demeanor one should expect from a man who would be President. His smarmy, wise guy - know it all manner will not compliment the smooth, polished and intellectual – almost professorial manner that characterizes Barrack Obama. It will instead be an abrasive counter too it. It is almost physically painful to listen this guy, Biden.

That’s right. I said ‘this guy’. ‘This guy’ and ‘these guys’ are phrases that Biden often uses when referring to the President and/or his advisers… as though they were just a bunch of careless and incompetent nincompoops sitting around the TV in their T-shirts watching ‘the game’ while eating pizza and guzzling beer.

‘This guy’ is a wholly inappropriate way of referring to the democratically elected leader of the free world. The President deserves more respect from a sitting senator – no matter what he thinks of his policies. I therefore have no compunction in referring to Joe Biden as ‘this guy’.

This guy is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That gives him the supposed heft that is sorely missing from the Obama candidacy. Biden is a bright fellow with a lot of foreign policy experience. Not that experience means good judgment as the Obama team is quick to point out about John McCain.

This is nothing less than an admission by Obama that he lacks experience and expertise in dealing with matters of foreign policy. And that – in my view - is probably the most important function of the leader of the free world. The very existence of nations can depend on decision a US President makes! Obama’s decisions will probably be heavily weighted on what Joe Biden tells him. This in effect will make Biden the defacto President when it comes to foreign policy. This requires a very close examination of Biden’s views on Israel.

Both Biden and Obama may say all the right things about ‘our ally’ Israel. But they both - along with other Democrats - keep harping about the lack of diplomacy on the part of the current administration in solving international problems which – they say- has caused the US to lose the support of our foreign allies in the world.

What does that mean with respect to Israel and the Arabs? Exactly what kind of ‘diplomacy’ will work to get the Arabs on our side? Will this mean using pressure on Israel to make peace on Palestinian terms? Will Obama-Biden withhold financial aid as a means of pressure? I shudder at the thought!

I don’t know the answers to these questions, But I do know McCain’s fundamental attitude about Israel is existential. He sees any threat to their existence in the ‘never again’ terms of the holocaust. The Democrats have never characterized it that way. They are all about pragmatic solutions. This mostly means one sided concessions of the type that - when attempted in the past - have caused nothing but death, destruction, and misery to the Jewish people. This is the vibe I’ve been feeling from democrats generally and from Obama specifically. They are definitely of the ‘one sided concessions for peace’ mentality - whether it is Israel, Iraq, or Iran.

But now that this guy Biden has been chosen, I’m beginning to believe that McCain actually has a chance.