Veepstakes: Biden Trains Fire On McCain

One of the chief credentials of a vice presidential nominee is partisan toughness; you've got to be a credible attack dog against the opposing presidential candidate. Today, in the second speech Sen. Joe Biden has delivered on the topic, he lit into... heck, he bit into, his own friend, Sen. John McCain, and McCain's approach to foreign policy. It's as if one of Obama's vice presidential judges, a la American Idol, told Biden that the "category this week is a speech that links McCain to Bush."

Biden, speaking this morning at the Center for American Progress:

"Under George Bush’s watch, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march:
· Iran is much closer to the bomb;
· Iran’s influence in Iraq is expanding
· Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and the country is on the brink of civil war.
Beyond Iran, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 09-11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9-11. Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel every day. And 140,000 American troops remain stuck in Iraq with no end in sight. Because of the policies George Bush has pursued and John McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure."


Last week, John McCain was very clear. He ruled out talking to Iran. He said that Senator Obama was “naïve and inexperienced” for advocating engagement. “What is it he wants to talk about?” John asked. If John can’t answer the question, we are in trouble.


What’s John’s plan for dealing with these dangers? You either talk; you go to war; or you maintain the unacceptable status quo. If John has ruled out talking, that means we’re going to get more of what we’ve had for most of the Bush administration – or worse. First, let’s end this false argument about “pre-conditions.” Senator Obama is right that the United States should be willing to engage Iran on its nuclear program without insisting that Iran first freeze the program – the very subject of any negotiations. We didn’t insist that the Soviets freeze their nuclear arsenal before we talked to them about arms control. The net effect of demanding pre-conditions that Iran rejects is this: we get no results and Iran gets closer to the bomb. Second, let’s stop the Bush/McCain fixation on regime change. We all abhor the regime, but think about the logic: renounce the bomb – and when you do, we’re still going to take you down. The result is that Iran accelerated its efforts to produce fissile material.


Like President Bush, John grounds his argument for a war with no end in his assessment of the dire consequences of drawing down our forces Iraq.


When it comes to the most urgent national security challenges we face – Iraq, Iran and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – last week made it clear that stylistically and substantively, there is no day light between George Bush and John McCain. They are joined at the hip. There would be no change with a McCain presidency and so there will be a real choice for Americans next November.