The Biden factor

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The selection of Joe Biden, for all his merits, was something of an anticlimax, and the Obama campaign is mostly to blame. It overmanaged the announcement. The ponderous stagecraft of the delay in releasing the decision and all the teasing of the press (a good thing in its own right, by the way: we deserve to be teased) were intended to supply a burst of excitement as the convention began. Also, the promise to let campaign supporters who registered their cellphone numbers get the news first by text message has doubtless done wonders for the Obama database. (Not that most of them did get the news first that way, of course; unless they turned off TV and radio and stayed up into the early hours on Saturday, glued to their phones.) In any event, Biden had been so widely tipped that the fanfare fell flat. Oh, right, fine, Joe Biden.

He is a good choice but an unadventurous one--despite the fact that his verbosity and rapid-response opining can get him into trouble. (The Republicans have put a "Biden gaffe clock" on their website.) His knowledge and experience of foreign affairs fill a perceived gap in the Obama campaign, and his pugilistic style is something else the campaign can use. But it doesn't fix what has been going wrong, which is the apparent failure of Barack Obama to connect with uncommitted voters. Biden does connect: he has that common touch. But if Obama cannot do that for himself, having a partner who can will not be good enough.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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