Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have Democrats Learned Nothing?

Choosing Delaware Senator Joe Biden to be the Vice Presidential candidate by Illinois Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama was an electoral mistake for several reasons. The last two unsuccessful national Democratic tickets were two Senators, even though one was already a sitting Vice President. Obama could have chosen a Governor or someone else with management experience.

Although Democrats believe that the ticket of Vice President Al Gore and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman should have won in 2000 had the Republicans not “stolen” Florida, Gore-Lieberman ultimately lost to a Republican ticket which featured Governor George W. Bush of Texas and Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney. In 2004, Democrats nominated two more U.S. Senators, Kerry-Edwards against Bush-Cheney.

Why do Democrats keep nominating U.S. Senators even though they do not win? Democrats keep trying to recreate the coalition that was successful in 1960, when Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy chose Texas Senator Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. Winning Texas was more crucial to making Kennedy President than Kennedy’s celebrated victory over Republican nominee Richard Nixon in the televised debate.

When Democrats won the White House in 1992, they broke out of the habit of nominating two U.S. Senators. They chose Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and Tennessee Senator Al Gore.

Choosing someone like Biden, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1973, undermines the Obama message that Washington is broken and change is about the future. It is also hard to imagine a Vice Presidential candidate who makes Barack Obama look younger and inexperienced, being old enough to be Obama’s father. Joe Biden has a long record of public service, speaks in public better than Obama, made disparaging statements about Obama when Biden was a Presidential candidate and is a gold mine for opposition researchers.

Republican nominee and Arizona Senator John McCain will nominate a running mate last. It is unlikely that McCain will choose a running mate who does not have executive experience.

By choosing Joe Biden, Barack Obama might have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.