The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Biden picked as a safe bet

As an avid follower of the 2008 presidential campaign, I waited anxiously this past week for a text message from the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

Fearful of wandering out of earshot, I kept my cell phone close, not wanting to miss the telltale beep that would signal the arrival of an all-important message. Stealing many futile glances into the empty glowing screen of my phone, I was quickly growing disheartened. By Saturday evening, I had resigned myself to hearing Obama’s choice for his vice presidential candidate second hand.

That was until 2:45 a.m. on Saturday Aug. 23. Sleepily slumped over my desk it finally happened. I received the long awaited text message from the Obama Camp announcing that Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. would be the party’s vice presidential nominee.

Since the selection of the Democratic senator from Delaware as Obama’s running mate, numerous debates have developed about the wisdom of the decision.’ I found myself faltering, simultaneously in agreement with the choice and cynically uneasy. Engaging my friends, colleagues, and family members in (sometimes-heated) discussion brought little comfort or feelings of certainty. Instead, I found my perspective on Biden continually shifting back and forth.

Certainly Biden’s foreign policy and national security experience, his appeal to middle-class and blue-collar voters, and his readiness to confront and oppose John McCain all appeared to strengthen the weaknesses in the Obama campaign. Biden would be a running mate and not merely a ‘yes-man.’ He had experiences and qualities that contributed to and complimented those of Obama.

Alternatively, some critics view Biden’s experience as the fourth longest serving U.S. Senator to be a shortcoming, referring to him instead as the ‘ultimate insider’ and as anything but an agent for change.’ His initial support for the invasion of Iraq was an impasse for some, while others found that his proclivity for speaking a great deal and without due consideration, left something to be desired.

Yet, what I found most disturbing was the idea that the selection of Joe Biden signaled a lack of confidence from within the Obama campaign. That the initial message of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ was faltering, fading, or perhaps becoming something else entirely.

To me, Biden was a pragmatic choice. A safe decision arrived at after a long and tiring primary season. Obama, admittedly inexperienced, learned a great deal about assembling a campaign and about the needs of American citizens in both the domestic and foreign arenas over the past year.’ Essentially, this has lead to a slow but steady movement to the middle of the road, politically.

Compromising a compelling but often polarizing message in order to ‘bring the people together,’ Obama has had to stray from his once boasted strength as a candidate for the new generation. Shifting from the contender who was comfortable, if not solely based upon challenging political standards, Obama seems to have altered his position in favor of an outlook that is markedly more moderate.

The selection of Biden strikes me as a decision that Barack Obama, the radical grassroots organizer of earlier days on the campaign trail, would not have made. The Barack Obama that first addressed Americans with the message of ‘Yes we can!’ would have been more likely to choose a running mate from outside of Washington.

Along those lines, he might have selected one of his less experienced considerations for VP, such as Governors Tim Kaine of Virginia or Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.’ Had Obama won the nomination without the aid of ‘super delegates,’ he might have even chosen a candidate from the opposing party like Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. And as many Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters may have been hoping, perhaps he would have even chosen a running mate outside of the typical white, male variety so common within the Senate.

The reality is however, that Obama has chosen Biden and this leaves me wondering, what will become of this campaign? I wonder if Obama’s choice is the result of having to cope with a limited political framework dominated by a two party system.’ With so many questions unanswered, I remain doubtful and suspicious.

Looking to my past presidential voting experience as an adult, limited as it may be, I know where my cynicism, contempt and deep seeded mistrust come from.’ Like a dysfunctional and cruel relationship, the past eight years have left me wary and willing to keep politicos at a safe distance with words of contempt and disbelief.’ For now, I hope that Obama and Biden might prove me wrong.

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