BARACK Obama had several good political reasons for naming Senator Joseph Biden yesterday as his Vice Presidential candidate. There is also another dimension to the choice which speaks well for Obama's character. In January last year Senator Biden said that he thought Obama was “not ready” for the presidency and added, rather condescendingly, that he was “the first mainstream African American candidate who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Naturally the McCain camp has fallen with glee on the “not ready” quotation but many people will think that a politician who can turn the cheek to such comments is someone out of the ordinary.

From every other standpoint Joseph Biden meets Obama three main criteria for his running-mate: that the person should be prepared to be president if called upon, be able to help Obama to govern especially in foreign affairs, and have the independence to challenge his thinking. If there is a question about the choice it is probably whether someone who has spent three decades in the Senate can help Obama bring about the changes in the way Washington does its business that he made such a feature of the early stages of his campaign.

Joseph Biden has been an effective chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations and Judicial Committees for many years; although he initially supported President Bush over Iraq he quickly changed his mind and made his Foreign Relations Committee a leading critic of the invasion and its aftermath.


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