Thursday, July 15, 2010

At What Point Does Joe Biden Become a Liability?

There appears to be a bit of daylight emerging between the Joe Biden-Nancy Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama.

First, consider Michael Gerson's column from this morning's Washington Post:

But last week, Vice President Biden appeared at a fundraiser for one of the least responsible critics of the Afghanistan war, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) -- among a handful of House members who voted to defund the war entirely. "I encourage you, old buddy, to speak out," said Biden. "You're independent. Don't let anybody take that out of you." Is it possible to imagine Biden saying the same thing of a Democrat who is a leading climate-science skeptic? Or a Democrat who dismisses Obama's health reform as socialism? 

And this isn't the first example of dissonance between Biden and the president when it comes to Afghanistan. Consider Biden's quote from The Promise:

At the conclusion of an interview in his West Wing office, Biden was adamant. "In July of 2011 you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it," Biden said as he wheeled to leave the room, late for lunch with the president. He turned at the door and said once more, "Bet. On. It."

Read Robert Naiman's piece.  There is a clear division emerging within the democratic party. Consider a much more serious senior democratic senator:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), whose hawkish grounding has angered progressive in the past, likely facilitated that anger again, when she told "Fox News Sunday" that if General David Petraeus asked for more troops next summer, he should be granted them.
"I would say give it to him, absolutely," said the California Democrat. "Now, let's talk about the deadline. This is a transition point toward the beginning of a withdrawal or a drawdown as Petraeus said in his transcript before the Armed Services [Committee]. And I think he has flexibility realistically. Ten years is a long time to fight a war, particularly with what happened before the 10 years. And so we need to understand that [we have] to get the military trained, get the government online, secure and stabilize, and I think do away with the drugs to a great extent, because the drugs are now fueling the Taliban."

Between Feinstein's comments, Republican backing for continuing the war, Obama's appointment of General Petraeus, I'd say it's a good bet that the president is starting to rethink his "July 2011" draw down.

The good news for Barack Obama is that the "progressive" caucus in the House will only exist for a few more months, because after this November I expect we'll see Nancy Pelosi  - fresh off an electoral trouncing - crawl back under the rock from whence she came. Once the democrats lose the House, the heat is off and Obama will be free to command the war as Petraeus sees fit.

But there's a flip side to the good news. Once his midterm penance is finished Obama will have to return to the job of governing, and he'll have to do it with a vice president who is pretty clearly out of step with one of the key tenants of his foreign policy. From Biden's perspective, he'll know just what his boss actually thinks of him and everyone in town will know nothing Biden says carries any weight what-so-ever.

It seems that the best solution would be, after the mid terms, Biden and Obama should both to begin quietly hinting that the V.P. may be considering retirement in December of 2012. From there either elevate Hillary or go outside the box and appoint Petraeus.


And this afternoon I see an op ed in the WSJ that supports my "dump Biden" meme.

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