Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Living Rebuke to Today's Politics

You might sum up what's wrong with this process of picking a president in two words: Joe Biden. Why is he stuck in single digits?

In an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS' News Hour last night, Biden was a reminder of the kind of candidate that old-fashioned, smoke-filled-room politics of the past century would often produce: experienced, knowing, comfortable in his own skin, someone to be trusted without being idealized.

Not always. There was Nixon, of course, but there were also FDR, Jack Kennedy, Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson and even Truman, if you overlook the cronyism.

Biden is a throwback to those days in refusing to play the Hillary-Rudy-Romney game of pandering from the heart. In Iowa, he is running a tongue-in-cheek ad about the phrase often heard in Democratic debates, "Joe's right," and he has been--about Iraq (after trusting Bush in 2002) and most domestic issues based on more than half a lifetime in Congress.

Peace to those cynics who will pop up with "plagiarism" and "shoot from the hip," but Biden seems to have learned from past mistakes and personal losses to emerge not sadder but wiser and optimistic. He deserves a closer look.

The old pols who used to pick candidates were a nasty, often crooked, lot, but they were realists who didn't fall for sound bites, test-panel slogans and shifty commercials. Nobody wants them back, but there must be a better alternative than this.

Maybe the YouTubers tonight will show us the way.

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