After a brief excursion in the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Fay is back on land, this time heading west across the Panhandle. As I write this, the eye of the storm is over the mouth of the Appalachicola River. This makes Fay the first tropical storm or hurricane to hit Florida four times; as a recap, the other three landfalls were in Key West, Naples and Flagler County. They’re finally getting some sunshine where my Dad lives, but some outlying showers are still likely to fall on him, as well as on Lindy and Adam in Georgia.
If you’re like me, you try to take a break from the news on weekends. Thus, when a big news story strikes on Saturday or Sunday (e.g., the death of Princess Diana, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the fiery end of the Space Shuttle Columbia), it can be a shock. Well, the mainstream media is going to do everything it can to make sure we don’t get a break from them now. They have been waiting all week with baited breath to find out who Barack Obama’s running mate is going to be (I even heard them say so on last night’s news), and this morning Obama announced it will be Delaware Senator Joe Biden.
We know from recent experiences, especially during last month’s overseas tour, that the three major networks are in love with Obama, so there are no surprises in their current behavior. Along that line, talk show host Sean Hannity posted this prayer on his website last week:
The “Obama” Prayer
Our Obama, who art from heaven, or Hawaii, or possibly Chicago,
Liberal be thy name,
Thy presidency come,
Thy will be done,
On Earth, as it is in San Francisco.
Give us this day our daily handouts.
And forgive us our individualism,
As we forgive those who don’t properly inflate their tires.
And lead us not into the Clintons,
But deliver us from McCain
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for two full terms.
Can I get an “Amen?” But seriously, I don’t see Biden bringing much to the Democratic ticket. They say Biden was picked because he has the foreign policy experience Obama lacks. That may be so, but a vice presidential candidate is also supposed to help the presidential candidate win, by bringing support from a different demographic and/or a different region of the country. Biden, however, comes from a very small “blue” state, that is likely to vote for Obama anyway. Does anyone really see him winning over many fence-sitters or McCain supporters?
Biden also comes with plenty of baggage, thanks to his mouth. Some of you may remember him plagiarizing British politician Neil Kinnock in a speech that sank his 1988 run for the presidency, and two years ago he got in trouble for telling a politically incorrect joke about Indian-Americans. Worst of all is his reputation for being a pompous windbag. During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, each senator was given ten minutes to ask questions; Biden rambled on for thirty minutes without getting to his first question! Honestly, with the hot air that guy generates, I have trouble believing that the Democrats are really serious about stopping global warming.
“Doesn’t he EVER shut up?”
In a way, I pity Obama at this point. A few days ago, he gave up half of the Democratic convention to the Clintons, and now with Biden making a speech, he’ll be lucky to have even one full day of attention. Satirist Andy Borowitz saw this coming, in the story he posted last Wednesday:
On the other hand, a perfect ticket-balancer can sometimes get you in trouble, too. Obama may be hoping he is avoiding the mistake the Democrats made in 1836, when they chose Richard M. Johnson to run with Martin Van Buren. Johnson was a war hero, credited with killing Tecumseh in the War of 1812, and he gave the ticket a perfect north-south balance: he came from my part of Kentucky (a graduate of Transylvania University, in fact), and thus was considered a Southerner, while Van Buren was a New Yorker to the core. However, he made trouble afterwards, as I chronicled in a footnote from Chapter 3 of my North American history series:
Richard Johnson, Van Buren’s vice president, taught us two things about that job. First, he proved that a family man isn’t always a good choice. Johnson was never married, but he had many children, from more than one mother. Worse than that, both the children and their mothers were his slaves. Worst of all was an episode that happened after he became vice president; when he discovered that his current black mistress was unfaithful, he sold her at an auction and took her sister to be his next mistress.
Johnson was dropped from the ticket when the 1840 election came around, as you might expect. That brings us to the second thing Johnson proved: there’s no law that says you have to pick a vice-presidential candidate. The Democrats couldn’t find a suitable replacement for Johnson, so for his reelection campaign, Van Buren ran alone.