Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

That's the Ticket!

It’s a great pick! He connects with blue-collar voters and reassures voters worried about Barack Obama’s foreign policy inexperience. It’s a lousy pick! He’s prone to gaffes and, as a senior member of the Senate, steps on the message of change.In the next few days, pundits will be obsessing over the political impact of putting Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. But the more important questions are the more tangible ones. Is Biden qualified to serve as an advisor to the president and, in an emergency, his stand-in?


Barack Obama is speaking in Springfield as I write this. And I think it's a pretty revealing window into the political logic* behind the selection. Obama has touted Biden's ability to get past foreign policy that's about "bluster and bad judgment." But the heavy, heavy focus is on Biden's personal story--a story of working-class roots, then overcoming the tragic death of his wife and daughter--and Biden's ability to aritculate the economic anxiety average Americans are feeling.


One obvious hazard of picking a veteran like Joe Biden is that it complicates Barack Obama's promise to "change the culture of Washington." The campaign, of course, has thought of that, too.


Cnn, Ap: Biden

CNN and Associated Press also reporting it's Biden.  --Jonathan Cohn 

If Joe Biden is indeed Barack Obama's pick for running mate, you can bet John McCain's campaign will go through the primary campaign, hunting for Biden quotes that make Obama look bad. That is fair game. But having spent a little time reviewing Biden's primary run, I've been struck by how cautious Biden was in his statements. Biden talked constantly about the importance of experience--and the fact that he had the most of it. It was the centerpiece of his campaign. But, for the most part, he couched those arguments in general terms.


In case you have better things to do on Friday night then stay glued to cable news while keeping your cell phone nearby,* MSNBC is reporting both Evan Bayh and Tim Kaine say they've been told they're not the nominee. Make of that information what you will. *Yes, I am that lame.  Update: There's nothing on the MSNBC site about this; I'm just relaying what I heard on Countdown. So maybe he mispoke? Or I misheard? Best to disregard until further notice. I do see MSNBC is reporting that messages will go out Saturday morning.


Apparently, three young kids who live near Evan Bayh's house have figured out a way to be productive during the long wait for an announcement. I'm glad somebody has! --Jonathan Cohn 

If this housing gaffe sticks and John McCain has a hard time shaking the economic elitist level, it's hard to imagine him picking Mitt Romney as running mate. According to documents that Romney released during his presidential run, he is worth between $190 and $250 million, making him the wealthiest presidential candidate to run this election cycle. And, yes, he owns several homes. Note: This is exactly the sort of baseless horserace speculation that I frequently criticize.


By now, it's quite possible the vice presidential nomination is a done deal: Barack Obama has already spoken to the nominee, along with the other finalists, and all that remains is for everybody's cell phones to start ringing or vibrating with text messages.* (I'd love to be in Washington right now: Will they all go off at once? What will it sound like at the Palm--or in one of the Dupont Circle Starbucks?) Still, I can't help but note how absolutely perfectly John McCain's housing comments would play to Joe Biden's political strenghts.


What happened to the great health care debate? That's the question Jill Zuckman asks today in the Chicago Tribune: In the daily rat-a-tat-tat between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, the silence is deafening. ... In the drawn- out Democratic primary fight between [Hillary Clinton] and Obama, the cost and availability of health care were daily fodder in the debate over which candidate would do a better job as president. And now, there is ...