Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama + Sen. Joe Biden = ????

Something I wrote to online buddies earlier today:

I have not yet formed an opinion about Biden as Obama's VP candidate.

I think if Obama is looking for an equal partner who will bring something to the table and contribute sometimes alternative views, I find that very impressive and encouraging. (Then again, I wouldn't vote for McCain. Ever.)

I like that Biden is considered an expert on global issues, but that he has not been uninvolved in the domestic front. I don't always agree with his positions, but I think that he and Obama will make a good team in that there will be positions they can struggle with from somewhat oppossing viewpoints.

However, there are two things bothering me right now, not so much about Biden, but about the situation:

1. I am bothered by Biden's selection in part because I don't feel good about his statement just months ago that he didn't feel Obama was ready to be president. I think the news coverage and press of that statement will be highly damaging to both, as a team. This is going to be talked into the ground! And the McCain campaign was playing smart politics when they immediately launched their ad featuring Biden's statement itself. They are going to prey on all the talk that this decision by Obama is an underscoring of Obama's own weaknesses. It's already being framed exactly that way in much of the meainstream media.

2. Speaking of playing smart politics, I can't help but feel that Obama is being too silent right now. I even went to his website today thinking that maybe his own statements weren't getting enough press. The only announcement regarding Biden on Obama's official campaign website (at least as of this morning) is one saying a simple "welcome him on board" and asking for donations because they can't do it alone and need help. Huh?! Why isn't Obama out there reciting his own clear statements about why he chose Biden, getting folks excited about bringing him on board rather than just expecting them to automatically embrace his choice without much of a word from Obama? *Especially* when there is this elephant-in-the-room-thing hanging out there, this statement from Biden saying that Obama isn't ready. I am nervous that this has not been a well-handled announcement. At all.

Since writing that, Obama has made his announcement speech. If you are interested in what he said, click here. You can also check that same blog on Obama's website for continual updates through the afternoon.

Okay, maybe I was just a tad quick to say that the announcement wasn't handled well. But just a tad. Let me just clarify a few things. First, I don't count all of the hype and talk that has led up to this announcement as part of how this was "handled" by the campaign. Of course there was talk and hype in the media and among well, lots of folks. And of course Biden's name was among some of the highly hyped. But that has nothing to do with how the announcement has been handled by the Obama campaign itself.

Obama's timing is right on, I think. I'm not questioning that. But what turned me off is that he sent out a text message at about 3am to his supporters announcing his choice, and then we heard nothing from him until after 3pm. There was absolutely nothing substantive to be found on his website about the decision or about Biden, nothing for his supporters to go to in order to learn more when they heard the news. Not even an announcement-- at least a clear one-- on his website about his speech until after noon, just a few hours before the speech.

In the meantime, just in those early hours, McCain immediately launched his first smear ad on Biden, and everyone but Obama started talking right away about the elephant-in-the-room statements Biden has made, even as recently as several months ago, that Obama is not ready. For a campaign in which Obama has swiftly and gracefully stamped out so many myths, smears, and misunderstandings by addressing them directly and clearly, I guess that just caught me by surprise.

Especially since until 3pm on a Saturday when many folks are not off at work busy with other stuff, it seemed to me that 50% of the day today the press was talking about Biden's statements regarding Obama's readiness. The other 50% of the time the press was talking about the old debate about whether this kind of ticket somehow either:
(1) indicated Obama was moving away from his message of change (I believe it is a cool and collected political decision for a VP indeed, not a move from basic values of the campaign), or
(2) whether this VP decision was underscoring Obama's weaknesses.

Here's what my sense this morning boiled down to...

I understand that typically these roll outs continue over a period of four or five days, but I wanted to see this decision framed strongly by Obama before others started touching it. Watching mainstream media just a bit, I am fearful it has already been framed for him.

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