The other veep with problems

In the cacophonous din of rampant screeching (and even the occasional reasonable discussion) about Sarah Palin over the past week, Obama’s choice for running mate, Senator Joe Biden, has been curiously ignored by the press.  Their only take on Biden is that he’s “experienced”, which leads to exactly 2 possible opinions that you, the reader, are allowed to have: either his experience makes the Obama\Biden ticket look good because he offsets Obama’s inexperience, or that it’s bad because it underlines Obama’s inexperience.

But what no one seems to be asking is whether that “experience” is worth anything.  For example, the media love him for suporting the war in Iraq, even though that turned out to be, ehm, not so smart.  Why?  Because the media isn’t judging him on the actual consequences of his decisions:

It’s important to recognize that when establishment journalists talk about Biden’s foreign policy expertise, they mean that he thinks like they do. New York Times reporters Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny (nytimes.com, 8/23/08) saw Biden’s support for the Iraq War as an important asset to a campaign that was launched primarily on the candidate’s opposition to the Iraq invasion: “Although he initially voted to authorize the war–Mr. Obama has opposed the war from the start–Mr. Biden has become a persistent critic of President Bush’s policies in Iraq. Mr. Biden would complement Mr. Obama’s antiwar position in the general election match-up against Senator John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, who has supported the war.” Being for the war when the media were in the tank as well makes him a valuable “complement” to a candidate who has been, from corporate media’s point of view, suspiciously consistent in his opposition to the war.

Not helping matters is Biden’s pre-VP comments about Obama’s candidacy:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.  I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

Racist backhanded compliments don’t tend to go over very well with Democrats.  But perhaps these comments were taken out of context?  I’m certain there is no pattern of Biden making veiled racist statements…

“You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts [in Delaware] unless you have a slight Indian accent…. I’m not joking.”

OK, well there’s two.  But there can’t be any more..

Biden later tried to explain to the Washington Post (10/25/07) why public schools in Iowa did not have the same problems as schools in Washington, D.C.: “There’s less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African-American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is it in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you’re dealing with.” Biden spokespeople would later explain that his comments were about socioeconomic status, not race.

Alright, fine, Joe is an “I’m not a racist, BUT [insert racist belief here]” racist.  But SURELY he has nice things to say about fellow Democrat, fellow Senator, and fellow caucasian John Edwards?

“I don’t think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about,” Mr. Biden said, when asked about Mr. Edwards’ advocacy of the immediate withdrawal of about 40,000 American troops from Iraq. “John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, ‘I want us out of there,’ but when you come back and you say, ‘O.K., John’”—here, the word “John” became an accusatory, mocking refrain—“‘what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?’ Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period? So all this stuff is like so much Fluffernutter out there. So for me, what I think you have to do is have a strategic notion. And they may have it—they are just smart enough not to enunciate it.”

I will admit right now that I have no idea how to enunciate “Fluffernutter”.  But at least Biden has that FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE, right?  He knows better than dumb ol’ Edwards what’s what in Iraq!  Right? Right?!

Nope.  Instead, he lifted Cheney phoney baloney war pretexts, sans all that factual context.  Blogger Jonathan Schwarz from A Tiny Revolution provides us some insight on Biden’s fibs:

So many lies. Just keeping track of them is exhausting.

1. “When the inspectors left after Saddam kicked them out…”

The UN weapons inspectors were withdrawn at the direct request of the US so that the US could bomb Iraq in Operation Desert Fox.

2. “[T]here was a cataloguing at the United Nations saying he had X tons of, X amount of, and they listed the various materials he had…he did have these stockpiles everywhere.”

The UN never said Iraq still possessed WMD. Biden is talking about documents prepared by the UN about the theoretical maximum amount of biological and chemical weapons Iraq could have produced before the Gulf War in 1991.

For instance, Iraq only admitted in 1995 that they had an offensive biological weapons program. Iraq also claimed they’d destroyed all the relevant material in 1991, and provided some though not conclusive evidence for this. The UN discovered that they’d imported a certain amount of growth media, and calculated how much anthrax they could have produced if all of the growth media had been used for anthrax at maximum efficiency.

Of course, humans never do anything at maximum efficiency. And there was evidence Iraq indeed had everything destroyed in 1991, and no evidence it hadn’t. And even if Iraq hadn’t destroyed it, it would have remained dangerous for only a few years after 1991, so there would have been no reason whatsoever for Iraq to keep it.

Again: the UN never said what Biden claims it did.

3. “[E]veryone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them.”

“Everyone in the world” thought Iraq had WMD in the same sense “everyone in the world” thought Joe Biden should run for president in 2008—ie, everyone Joe Biden spoke to. The rest of humanity, no.

Just for instance, the head of the CIA’s WMD section privately believed that Iraq had “not much, if anything.”

Go read the rest.

For more on Biden’s ignominy, in particular his support of the PATRIOT Act (which he takes credit for writing), and his support of the drug war (for which he helped create the ridiculous position of “Drug Czar”), go here and here, respectively.

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