Obama’s New Southern Strategy: Send Biden
by BOB MOSER – The Nation
No matter how much I hooted and mooed when Bill Clinton slithered on stage last night to nourish his ego afresh, I couldn’t help cracking a smile of recognition when Bubba brought out his slowest drawl to declare, “I looove Joe Biden.”
I have been hearing that exact same phrase, drawn out just the same way, from Southern delegates all week when I asked them about Obama’s number two. “Oh, we looove Joe Biden,” they say, almost always adding that they love him because he just comes on out and says it, consequences be damned. It’s been a while since anybody in Dixie was saying such things about a Democrat on the ticket. And it counts as just about the highest compliment a politician can get down there.
Biden’s big speech was hardly a classic from start to finish. But what a start: His son Beau (the new heartthrob of the Democratic set–at least my set) got the waterworks going, and Biden kept it flowing for a good while–until that awful “More of the Same” refrain came a-clunking, with the Democrats holding signs bearing the wretched phrase, waving them on cue as if they were auditioning for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. I almost like Biden better for fumbling those pedestrian lines.
But when Biden means it, you know it–and the things he meant last night, he said with a kind of conviction and sincerity that the ’90s version of a Democratic populist, ol’ Bill, can only match in his rarest performances. Biden looks a lot like Barack Obama’s Bill Clinton–a guy who speaks the kind of American that Democrats in the South and the Midwest can hear. While the general consensus about “using Bill” has been “send him to Appalachia,” Biden just might be able to relieve Bubba of that duty and make a fresher case for Obama and the Democrats.
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