According to National Public Radio, Vice President Joe Biden is Barack Obama's “Ambassador to the Midwest." He is being sent out to spread the word that, yes, the president is in fact running for re-election, in case the supersaturation of Republican television ads has desensitized us to the possibility of anyone outside the GOP being on the ballot in November.
I'm of the opinion that the president should just bide his time and not say anything to anybody about the upcoming election, for the time being. His opponents are doing such a fine job of alienating the electorate, who in there right mind would advise him to do anything at all to take the national focus away from the Republican primaries, and, eventually, what is sure to be a train wreck of a convention.
But, that campaign money isn't going to spend itself, so it's out on the trail for the VP. Well, I say campaign money, but between traveling on Air Force planes and Secret Service details and this and that, it's actually quite a bit of taxpayer money. But let's not quibble about a few million here and a few million there shall we?
But I digress.
If I was a betting man, I would wager that Joe Biden's effectiveness in the Midwest will track, fairly precisely, the percentage of each state's unionized workforce. Biden is an old-time Democrat, with none of the crossover appeal needed to sway anyone not already committed to voting for his boss.
In the Rust Belt Midwest, Biden is a perfect representative of the type of administration we have in the White House. He is unapologetically populist, willing to bash and trash anyone or anything that reeks at all of high income tax bracket. Unless that high income is associated somehow with a national trade union, in which case he not only excuses and justifies its existence, but also (pretty effectively it must be said) soaks it or them of as much campaign cash as is humanly possible. He comes off as quite the working man's friend. If the working man doesn't mind high taxes and intrusive government.
In the Corn Belt Midwest, however, he has less to offer. Farmers know they are going to get heavy subsidies regardless of which party wins the White House. They are, to generalize a bit, more concerned about the moral issues of the day which Democratic party has a reputation for not much caring about (or, to be fair, not caring about in the same way). He could very well come off as a bit of a city slicker, a kind of latter-day Harold Hill, trying to sell you something you don't really need and that will probably cause a lot of trouble before it's all over. Joe Biden is John Kerry without the military resume. I don't think it will play.
In the end, I believe, it's a wash. Joe Biden isn't a polarizing figure that is going to drive away the President's base (think Sarah Palin), and he isn't a charming swashbuckler who is going to win hearts and minds by the force of his personality (think Bill Clinton; not as a Vice President of course, but more as a President Emeritus).
Unless, and this is a big unless, Biden goes off script at some point and says something so outrageous and infuriating that even the most in-the-tank national news outlets cannot ignore it. Then all bets are off. This, I'm guessing, is why the press guys probably don't mind being assigned to this VP as opposed to most of the ones from years past. Biden, for whatever his perceived qualities or liabilities may be, is always about a sentence away from making things interesting.
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