Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The case for Biden over Clinton as VP

As I wrote earlier, I had mixed feelings about Senator Joe Biden as VP. But the more I see, the more I like. His personal life story is strong - first sworn-in at his son's hospital bedside, takes the Amtrak almost every night to be with his kids, one of the least-wealthy Senators (his net worth is less than $200,000). Despite 35 years in DC, apparently no enemies. Author of the Violence Against Women Act ("the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades" according to NOW). And just one house!
In addition, Biden can speak with authority on foreign policy, and attack McCain/the Republicans with ease - allowing Obama to remain above the fray.
[Obama/Biden vs McCain/Romney? - two houses, $2 million net worth vs 20 houses, $350 million net worth. Bring on the foreign policy and tax policy debates, bitches!]

Now, Senator Clinton can attack McCain well - as she did a little while earlier ("no way, no how, no McCain!") I have already stated why she would have been a good pick - but also why she'd have been bad, as seen this week with McCain's numerous ads featuring her primary comments.

I just had another thought, though. Biden can make the charge that Republicans are wrong on national security, foreign policy, women's rights, other domestic issues with a lot of credibility. Yes, his 1987 campaign imploded after charges of plagiarism, and there have been other gaffes, but 1987 was two decades ago, and the gaffes are much less serious than McCain's.
On the other hand, the main problem with Senator Clinton is the public perception that she has a troubled relationship with the truth - see Bosnia-gate, for instance. Given her serious charges against Obama - that he does not have the required experience (two decades of public service notwithstanding) - in an official, very public role as the VP, she might not possess the same credibility as "everyman" Joe, as she might be seen as someone who will say anything to get elected. Clinton's main task, if any, over the next two months will be to get her supporters - part of the Democratic base - to back Obama. This is not such a visible role, and is limited to people who trust her.

Coda: I think Senator Clinton's speech tonight was very good, particularly her challenge to her supporters - "are you in this for me, or are you in this for the young Marine and others like him?"
Hopefully, folks look to Hillary more than to Bill, who continues to be publicly ambivalent toward Obama - in the latest instance, President Clinton will apparently not attend Obama's speech at Invesco. Maybe it's as TPM reader JM writes - the old President/new President relationship is always fraught with difficulty. Update: Apparently, departing early is "standard practice" for President Clinton, who did likewise in 2000 and 2004.
Coda 2: Governors Mark Warner and Brian Schweitzer also gave excellent speeches, as did Rep. Nydia Velasquez. Lilly Ledbetter's story was also quite touching, and an example of the injustice that John "women need training and education" McCain will enable (link via Women on Business).


RS said...

Senator Joe Biden proudly proclaims that he was regularly and severely beaten by his older sister as a child and as an adolescent. This same sister raised his two sons after his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident.

Biden has often claimed that the Violence against Women Act is the greatest achievement of his career. He also claims that a woman cannot be a perpetrator of domestic violence, despite the fact that hundreds of studies show that women commit acts of domestic violence as often or more often than men. Many studies also show that lesbian women physically attack their intimate partners at higher rates than heterosexual men.

As a result of Biden's Violence against Women Act, the federal government pays states to create laws effectively requiring that innocent men be removed from their homes and families without even an allegation of violence, with no legitimate standards of evidence, when a woman makes a claim that she is afraid.

Elaine Epstein, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association (1999), has said "the facts have become irrelevant... restraining orders are granted to virtually all who apply. Regarding divorce cases, she states "allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage". According to Epstein, who is also a former president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, restraining orders are doled out "like candy" and "in virtually all cases, no notice, meaningful hearing, or impartial weighing of evidence is to be had." Cathy Young reports on the Elaine Epstein quote and the broader issue at Salon.com here:


This report from RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) provides much insight into the situation brought about, in large part, by Joe Biden.


State restraining order laws are starting to fall because they're unconstitutional. The federal law behind them, written by Joe Biden, is likely to fall as well, not because it isn’t popular, but because it is clearly unconstitutional.

There is a rapidly growing activist community dedicated to addressing this issue. One of the focal points of this community is the Glenn Sacks blog, www.glennsacks.com .

RS said...

Note: The "rs" above is NOT me!

Laws can be, and are often, misused. That is not a strike against Biden by any means.

However, as far as violence against women is concerned, I err on the side of caution. It is all too easy for cops/society in patriarchal societies to drastically up the bar if the law says a certain degree of evidence must be presented before action can be taken to protect the woman.