That Joe Biden! For conservatives, he is the gift that keeps on giving, a veritable gaffe factory. I could go on and on about the stupid things he has said over the years, but other websites and blogs have done that already. He said two of them this week. First, he seemed to forget we are not in the twentieth century anymore; second, there was the case where he warned a largely black audience about the Republicans: “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”
Those aren’t the worst things he has said, but they got special attention because I and others were speculating that Barack Obama would have a better chance of getting re-elected if he picked someone else to be his running mate. Contrary to popular belief, it is no sin to dump a vice president who has become a liability; Jefferson, Grant and FDR all did it. You don’t even have to pick anyone at all. Martin Van Buren dropped Richard Johnson from the ticket in 1840, but the Democrats couldn’t agree on who should take his place, so they picked no one. I gather that it was several other issues, and not Van Buren running alone, that kept him from getting re-elected.
Now it looks like Obama will be sticking with Biden; both he and his press secretary said as much this week. Meanwhile, Karl Rove, the campaign manager and chief of staff of former president Bush, has produced a fun commercial calling for the Democrats to keep Biden (see below); those who understand satire will get it. Closer to home, our leading AM radio station conducted a survey today on whether Biden is an asset or an albatross. 53 percent of callers said he hurts Obama’s campaign, 26 percent said he doesn’t make a difference, and only 21 percent said he helps it.
I heard yesterday that Lyndon Johnson, in 1960, was the most recent running mate who put a presidential candidate over the top. John F Kennedy won by carrying Texas and Illinois, and Johnson delivered Texas to him, possibly illegally. I am now trying to think if there was ever a presidential candidate who failed to win because his choice for vice president was bad. To any liberals reading this, Sarah Palin in 2008 doesn’t count; John McCain was running well behind Obama in the polls for most of the campaign.
You might also want to check out this column, about what Obama said this week, and what he didn’t say.