I received a text message at 3:19 this morning confirming it.
This is it, your 2008 Democratic Presidential ticket.
UPDATE: The GOP is already on the attack:
“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden,” said McCain spokesman Ben Porritt. “Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be President.”
But Obama has already responded to this inevitable line of attack with what he said a few days ago:
Let me tell you first what I won’t do. I won’t hand over my energy policy to my vice president, without knowing necessarily what he’s doing. I wont have my vice president engineering my foreign policy for me. The buck will stop with me, because I will be the president. My vice president, also by the way my vice president also will be a member of the executive branch, he won’t be one of these 4th branches of government where he thinks he’s above the law. But here’s what I do want from my vice president, I want somebody who has integrity, who’s in politics for the right reasons, I want somebody who is independent. Somebody who is able to say to me, ‘you know what, Mr. President, I think you’re wrong on this and here’s why’ and will give me (applause) who will help me think through major issues and consult with me, would be a key advisor. I want somebody who is capable of being president and who I would trust to be president. That’s the first criteria for vice president. And the final thing is I want a [vice] president who shares with me a passion to make the lives of the American people better than they are right now. I want someone who is not in it just because they want to have their name up in lights or end up being president. I want somebody who is mad right now, that people are losing their jobs. And is mad right now that people have seen their incomes decline, and want to rebuild the middle class in this country. That’s the kind of person that I want; somebody who in their gut knows where they came from and believes that we have to grow this country from the bottom up.
UPDATE II: Marc Ambinder nails it:
Put aside the obvious: Biden has foreign policy meat on his bones…He’s a great debater… he has a working-class Scranton-bred Irish-Catholic heritage…he knows Washington very well…he has known tragedy in his life…
He was elected to the Senate as a change agent at the age of 29. He is comfortable but not wealthy — he has not used the prerogatives of office to enrich his personal wealth
I gather that what impressed Obama about Biden is that Biden gets things done. He’s a man of action. He’s not a bullshitter. I also get the sense that Biden, 65, is pretty well aware that, at age 73 in eight years, he’s not going to be a viable presidential choice, and thus convinced Obama that because the vice presidency would be his terminal position, the famous Biden ego will take a subordinate role.
I gather that Obama realizes that he needed a pick that would demonstrate some level of intellectual seriousness about the condition of the world. One of his sons heads for Iraq soon. Obama knows that, for Biden, getting Iraq right is much more than just about proving a point.
Biden is also a fighter on domestic policy. He touts as one of his greatest legislative accomplishments 1994’s Violence Against Women Act.
That Obama (apparently) picked him demonstrates a recognition that the Democratic ticket ought to be more than just about Obama’s personality… or a statement of bipartisan pragmatism… it’s easy to float on gossamers when the world is safe, but when it’s burning down, a guy like Biden is just the ticket.
And remember, when the crisis in Georgia was raging, the President of Georgia picked up the phone and called none other than Joe Biden to help hip resolve the conflict.
UPDATE III:In an amusing turn of events, millions of Americans had their phones ring at 3:00 AM. Were you all prepared for your 3 AM phone call?
UPDATE IV: Some of my thoughts– Biden’s tough. His wife and daughter were killed in a car accident several decades ago, and both of his sons were also seriously injured. Biden persevered though a personal tragedy that would have destroyed most people.
Biden has a good Irish Catholic working-class background–he’s originally from Scranton, PA, and is sometimes referred to as “Pennsylvania’s third Senator.” He’s one of the least wealthy men in the Senate, and he doesn’t own a house in Washington–he commutes between Delaware and DC. Via Amtrak.
He’s also capable of debating and delivering a line–his “a noun, a verb and 9/11” line destroyed Rudy Giuliani in the primaries, turning Rudy’s overuse of September 11th into a running joke.
I always felt that the ticket in 2004 was backwards–you had the boring-but-smart guy out in front and the charismatic, likable guy with a message in the back. This time around, I feel like it’s just right–you have the strong leader with a vision leading the charge, backed by years of experience and finely-honed judgment.
UPDATE V: A sensible, non-Bush-McCain Republican responds:
“Joe Biden is the right partner for Barack Obama. His many years of distinguished service to America, his seasoned judgment and his vast experience in foreign policy and national security will match up well with the unique challenges of the 21st Century. An Obama-Biden ticket is a very impressive and strong team. Biden’s selection is good news for Obama and America.”
That’s Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R), who has refused to endorse John McCain this year.
UPDATE VI: Indiana’s Dick Lugar (R):
“I congratulate Senator Barack Obama on his selection of my friend, Senator Joe Biden, to be his vice-presidential running mate. I have enjoyed for many years the opportunity to work with Joe Biden to bring strong bipartisan support to United States foreign policy.”
And Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter (R):
“No one on the Democratic side knows more about foreign policy than Sen. Biden…He’s been an articulate spokesman on the subject. He also knows about domestic policy. He’s been a leader on crime control.”