Why “Radio Silence” Can be a Good Thing in VEEP Selection


obama biden twn.jpg
Obama’s campaign is really smart. They have the blogging and media communities jumping at every flick of the Obama campaign’s collective pinky — wondering what this gesture or that might reveal about who will be selected as Obama’s running mate.
I’m fascinated by the tension that has built up over this selection process and think that almost anyone but Evan Bayh is going to get thunderous applause — mostly because folks will be relieved that the wait is over.
Sources can be wobbly, and anyone trying to reach out to insiders runs the risk of being drawn into a trap or being fed false or just unintentionally incorrect information.
But my best guess today — as I’ve said for days now — is that Obama’s choice is Joe Biden.
In contrast to the netroots and progressive community’s “surge of concern” over the former momentum of Evan Bayh’s selection — a wide range of support exists for Joe Biden.
Biden polls well with working women, with white working class males, with Hispanics, and perhaps most importantly — with the elderly and with elder, politically active Jewish-Americans who give a disproportionate amount of money politically in comparison to the population size of Jewish-Americans in the U.S. And Biden, on the whole, is liked by the netroots and progressive communities — and the blogosphere in recent days has embraced him.
There could be a sleeper candidate, or Obama could change his mind.
But what I think I know is that Senator Obama has decided with a 98% factor of certainty on his choice. Obama is able to change course if need be between now and the VP announcement if something unexpected shows up in the political marketplace about his as yet unannounced but probable running mate.
Tom Daschle and Evan Bayh were called and told they will not be ‘it’ according to several sources. I don’t have anything on Tim Kaine — other than insiders tell me that Obama has decided against him — mostly because he doesn’t help check off the foreign policy box or experience box. I just don’t hear much about Kathleen Sebelius so am not counting her as a strong candidate.
Wesley Clark and Bill Richardson were not seriously considered according to sources — and Jack Reed, who Obama likes a great deal, would not allow himself to be vetted. I don’t believe Chris Dodd was high on the list.
Sam Nunn was knocked out by progressives, and this blog may have helped with regard to his unreformed position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Hagel would be a game-changing choice on a few levels — but one of those levels could produce a strange scenario in which his selection could anger enough super delegates that they would revolt and hand Hillary Clinton a surprise convention victory. That means Hagel is not a real option.
Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a shocker — a move that would both force everyone to catch their breath and say ‘wow’ while at the same time animating Republicans who were asleep with their own candidate’s blandness to arise and work against an Obama-Clinton win. Essentially, I think Obama has decided against Hillary and what he fears would be a dysfunctional presidency with her — even though an Obama/Clinton ticket is one of the few combinations that looks like a knock out punch to McCain and the Republicans.
But that leaves Joe Biden, who was recently traveling in Georgia and surveying the situation there. In typical Biden style, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman specified where Russia had crossed inappropriate lines but he did so without squealing in some hyperventilating manner like so many other pundits and observers have. And he left portals open to explore what is right, and what is effective and in American interests regarding future such situations as Georgia and NATO. He didn’t jump behind Georgia full stop on everything. Biden was judicious — and we need more of that.
But has Biden heard a word from Obama or his team?
My sources say NO.
According to one source, there has been total radio silence.
Well, be thankful for radio silence I guess when other candidates for VP are getting phone calls saying “Sorry….but we look forward to working with you in many other ways in the coming years.”
The word that Obama has not communicated with Biden makes him, in the estimation of many, the likely candidate — as Obama knows that Biden will accept on a moment’s notice. I confirmed this with a person very close to the Delaware Senator.
The thinking is that the moment a VEEP candidate gets the positive nod from Obama, the candidate then tells his spouse and family — and they can’t help but tell close family and friends, and then bloggers like me get the drift and put it out there. To keep it quiet and the decision un-firm continues the buzz, hype and dominance of the media by Team Obama — and also keeps Obama’s options open until the last possible moment lest something unexpected pop up.
Intrade, which is a futures prediction market, confirms much of what I have written. The last trade has Biden surging 19 points to 50% probability of selection.
What is interesting is the roster of other rankings:

Biden 50%
Kaine 15.5%
Bayh 12.7%
Sebelius 13.9%
Clark 12.9%
Clinton 9.3%
Dodd 3.0%
Rendell 2.0%
Gephardt 5.0%
Bloomberg 1.5%
Gore 3.0%
Cohen 2.0%
John Edwards 0.5%

Did you catch that last bit? Wow. . .what a fall.
— Steve Clemons


30 comments on “Why “Radio Silence” Can be a Good Thing in VEEP Selection

  1. Kathleen says:

    Tahoe Editor…you’re so right… I did catch the Hopey bug…inside this cynic’s body lived an incorrigible optomist, but she got smothered to death at 3 a.m. Sat. Apparently Harvard doesn’t teach that every action has an equal and opposite reaction….Nader was wrong too, BO is that dumb.


  2. Tahoe Editor says:

    You’ve really caught the Hopey bug, Kathleen. But the Hopey okie-doke says we can’t believe in Hillary. We need to “turn the page”; “start from scratch.”

    People of Earth! Stop Your Bickering. I Am From Harvard, And I’m Here To Help
    The winds at the Democrats’ backs are hurricane-force gales, and yet there’s Obama holding steady, like a young Dan Rather in his schoolgirl rain slicker, immobile and unmovable.
    Ask the typical Obama supporter why this should be so and you’ll get a range of answers. Some just stare at the poll numbers the way my late basset hound would look at me when I tried to feed him a grape: with pure unblinking incomprehension. Others act like the guy who sits alone with his shopping bags at the public library, muttering about Fox News conspiracies and how Karl Rove-like aliens are doing terrible things with probes of proctological exactitude. Still others just shake their heads at the racism of anyone who could possibly have a problem with a very left-wing politician with almost no experience, who often sounds like his campaign slogan is: “People of Earth! Stop Your Bickering. I Am From Harvard, And I’m Here To Help.”


  3. Kathleen says:

    If O’Bambi has a sense of humor, he will call Hillary at 3 a.m. and say, “Your’e the one… get your buns out of bed and hit that campaign trail, girl….we’ve got ceilings to crash…


  4. Kathleen says:

    Steve… Rob is commenting it’s Hillary in the top thread…


  5. Kathleen says:

    Well, Steve, start saying “Wow”….O’Bambino wants to win and there’s no point in turning off half the party…or worse if he picks another woman…Like Nader says, he’s just not that dumb.


  6. DonS says:

    WhileAmericans may reflexively hate Russia, if the choice were given of where that $1 billion should be allocated — Georgia or to help the struggling citizens of the US — they would throw Georgia over in a heatbeat. However, neither the neo cons nor the neoliberal interventionists consider the rest of us count for much, except to rubber stamp their grandiose schemes.
    Truly, a plague on both their houses, and the sheople who have enabled them.


  7. Carroll says:

    Forward Interview:
    Biden Rejects Clamoring For the Greater U.S.-Israel Distance
    Posted by Jennifer Siegel, March 21, 2007, 2:04 pm
    “As the liberals clamor for greater distance between the U.S. and Israel, one of Washington’s most vocal critics of the administration’s Middle East policy is vowing to keep the two countries joined at the hip if he is elected president.
    Delaware Senator Joseph Biden rejected the notion that the U.S. needs to become a more neutral player in the Middle East, while criticizing the White House as uninvolved and ineffective. He spoke to the Forward for 45 minutes over oatmeal at Manhattan’s Regency Hotel yesterday morning,
    “In my 34 year career, I have never wavered from the notion that the only time progress has ever been made in the Middle East is when the Arab nations have known that there is no daylight between us and Israel,” said Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations committee. “So the idea of being an ‘honest broker’ is not, I think, like some of my Democratic colleagues call for, is not the answer. It is being the smart broker, it is being the smart partner.”
    Biden, a dark-horse Democratic presidential contender known for straight talk (and the occassional gaffe), has long been a strong supporter of Israel in Congress and is now aggressively courting Jewish voters and donors for his 2008 bid. The debate over the U.S.-Israel relationship, meanwhile, has reached a fevered pitch in the wake of last week’s Washington conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: On Sunday, New York Times columnist Nick Krisof published an op-ed in the paper that argued that the country lacks a serious debate over Israel, and needs to back away from its “crushing embrace” of Israeli hardliners.
    Biden argued that the U.S. doesn’t need more distance, but does need to become a more effective, proactive partner for peace.
    “We contract our foreign policy, and that is a dangerous situation,” Biden said. “Do you think there’s any reasonable prospect that the Saudis are going to push Hamas to recognize Israel? So now we have a quote unity government and we’re going, ‘Oh my goodness, we have a problem.’”
    This is an example of Biden’s good foreign policy?
    This is the AIPAC/Zionist policy, not the policy that the majority of Americans want or how we want to be seen by the world and is definitely not in US interest.
    Whether he takes this position for jewish money or was really sincere in his I am a Zionst speech doesn’t matter, the end result is the same.
    Obama has btw also just parroted Biden’s call for 1 billion in US aid for Georgia.
    How sick of them all I am. The bankruptcy of the US by neocons or by neoliberal interventionist, what’s the difference?


  8. evap says:

    I’m rooting for Brian Schweitzer or Clark.


  9. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    What is interesting is the roster of other rankings:
    Biden 50%
    Kaine 15.5%
    Bayh 12.7%
    Sebelius 13.9%
    Clark 12.9%
    Clinton 9.3%
    Dodd 3.0%
    Rendell 2.0%
    Gephardt 5.0%
    Bloomberg 1.5%
    Gore 3.0%
    Cohen 2.0%
    John Edwards 0.5%
    Cohen? Is that Steve Cohen? The guy that just trashed Harold Ford, Jr.’s protege in TN-09?


  10. Tahoe Editor says:

    He has a clever stealth plan to say 100 times he was for the debates before he was against them.
    “If John McCain blah de blah de blah, then I’m HAPPY TO HAVE THAT DEBATE.”
    What a crock.


  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Barack has a clever stealth plan to prove how smart he is, by losing debates.
    Obama has really timed all of his flip flops surprisingly well, for a reactionary.


  12. p.lukasiak says:

    Obama’s campaign is really smart. They have the blogging and media communities jumping at every flick of the Obama campaign’s collective pinky — wondering what this gesture or that might reveal about who will be selected as Obama’s running mate.
    IIRC, 49% of Americans said a couple of weeks ago that they were tired of hearing about Obama (as opposed to 26% who were tired of hearing about McCain).
    In other words, the constant media spotlight on Obama is not necessarily a good thing — and when the endless speculation about VP choices includes phrases like “to make up for Obama’s lack of experience in national security matters”, its probably a net bad thing.
    Bottom line is that I think all this media attention is bad for Obama — its sending a whole lot of negative messages (Obama is playing games with his selection/Obama is indecisive) that his campaign should not be sending.


  13. Paul Norheim says:

    perhaps you`re right. Basically, i feel kind of foolish participating
    in this kind of idle speculations. Regarding Steve, at least the
    reputation of his blog may perhaps increase a bit if he gets this
    right, but if I happened to be right or wrong, it really doesn`t
    matter. I should bet on horses instead, or read a book, don´t you
    It`s really a game for kids. But it`s also a rather harmless way of
    spending your idle hours. In a couple of days, we`ll all know.


  14. carsick says:

    Obama’s been on vacation and the election is month’s away. Many people are just now starting to pay attention. I think Obama has timed his harder focus on McCain just right. He doesn’t have to panic and choose someone he doesn’t feel comfortable with when the real governing has to take place.


  15. Tahoe Editor says:

    Barack is back to saying things were great in the 1990s, but he still can’t bring himself to say Bill was president then — you know, when the GOP was the “party of ideas.”
    He’s the ultimate page turner, and his Invesco duck is a transparent attempt to give the Clinton delegates the runaround.
    MSNBC Jester Chris Matthews in a rare moment of candor today:
    “What happens if there’s nothing on that page when you turn it?”


  16. Paul Norheim says:

    “even though an Obama/Clinton ticket is one of the few
    combinations that looks like a knock out punch to McCain and
    the Republicans.” (Steve Clemons)
    In the last couple of months, Obama has been “moving towards
    the center”. This indicates that he`ll do almost anything to win
    against McCain. Unless the chemistry between Barack Obama and
    Hillary/Bill Clinton is terrible at the moment, don`t be surprised if
    he`ve asked her to become his VP candidate. He really, really
    wants to win, and given the current polls, this may be his best
    option. It will be less about “change”, and more about winning
    the election, but this is consistent with his statements and actions
    during the last weeks.


  17. carsick says:

    Much of what you said could easily be attributed to McCain as well. Many Republicans are thinking “Is he picking a pro-life candidate or not?”
    Opacity defined…especially when some people are still pushing the idea that he may pick a democrat (Lieberman). That’s some serious opacity if you aren’t sure if your candidate is even choosing a VP from your own party.


  18. Dan Kervick says:

    Too much radio silence and tension building leads to the risk of a major letdown. I can’t imagine any of the likely candidates receiving “thunderous applause.” Likely responses? —>
    Clinton – A revolution: thunderous applause from one half of the party; shrieks of outraged incomprehension and people jumping out of windows from the other half; manic energized enthusiasm from Republican pundits.
    Sebelius, Warner, Kaine, Richardson, Biden, Clark and other standard Democrats: Huh, that’s what all the fuss was about? OK. Let’s move on now.
    Bayh, Nunn, Hagel, Lugar, Bloomberg and other conservative Dems or Republicans: Oh dear god!!! How many more non-progressive moves to the center can he make?
    Gore: OK, that one would be genuinely exciting for Democrats.
    By the way, whatever happened to Rendell?


  19. Chris Brown says:

    As Ben Smith observed:
    “Intrade’s record of being wrong is identical to that of the punditocracy (extremely good!) since it has been — this cycle — a pure reflection of conventional wisdom. (Obama shot up, for instance, after he won Iowa.)”


  20. carsick says:

    He read that speech in the midst of an understaffed presidential campaign twenty years ago. Afterward, even Republicans were lining up to stand by his veracity. I think it’s been considered an unfortunate circumstance related gaffe by the inside the beltway types and natiopnal media.
    Not that it won’t come up again if he’s the nominee. I’ll be curious to see if it gets traction though.


  21. lurker says:

    Clemons knows more than he’s letting on. Clemons helped kill Bayh’s chances, and he helped the pivot of interest towards Biden. He’s an advocate but also a decent broker.
    I support Biden and think that Clemons’ take here makes sense to me. But I also know that Clemons is on a limb and has helped change the political environment with TWN. Is that right? Not sure it is, but I am definitely impressed when I look at those Intrade charts and correlate the dates and views to things Clemons has written about Bayh and Biden.


  22. Zathras says:

    I have no idea who will end up on the ticket with Sen. Obama, no idea what he has in mind for his running mate as far as the campaign is concerned, not a clue as to what kind of Vice President he wants, and no real sense as to how he will decide any of these things.
    I may just be unusually obtuse about subjects that are clear to many other people. Frankly, though, Obama’s opacity about how he thinks and the kind of President he would be is probably stumping lots of people besides me. That matters least right at this moment, when as the only alternative to another Republican President he’s in a position to call his own shot however he wants to. It will matter more later on, especially if he wins the election. As President, Obama would need to make a lot of appointments and a lot of decisions. Perhaps the cultivation of mystery would be a major element in his decision-making process, perhaps not. How is one to know, based on what we’ve seen to date?
    For the record, I would feel better if Sen. Biden were on the ticket. He is ready to be President if something were to happen, more ready than any of the other people now being mentioned as possible running mates on the Democratic side. Also more ready than Obama himself, which may or may not rule him out. Once again, we just don’t know.


  23. Skip says:

    Do the charges of plagiarism from his initial presidential campaign not come into play here? Or has that solidly moved into the category of “old news”? I haven’t seen anyone mention it in either blog posts or comments.


  24. carsick says:

    Considering the radio silence and how closely held the process seems to be, the choice could almost still be Clark. I’ve heard that even in Chicago the staff are running a pool. That doesn’t give much confidence for the behind the scenes things you or others are hearing. I also heard Biden hasn’t been informed but some no longer being considered have been informed. Has Clark?
    I know every candidate for the position has positives and negatives but considering that Clark doesn’t have a slot or invite to the convention no longer seems to be an indicator.
    Personally, I’ll be happy with Biden or Clark. I’m just sayin’.


  25. Sameer says:

    KGO radio (San Francisco) is reporting Biden said he is not it. Is it a feint?


  26. Chris Brown says:

    And First Read reports:
    From NBC/NJ’s Mike Memoli
    As Delaware Sen. Joe Biden left his home a few minutes ago, golf clubs in tow, he was asked where he was going to be on Saturday.
    Biden replied, “Here” and pointed down to his driveway.
    As he pulled out of the driveway in the driver’s seat of his car he then said to the press gathered near his gate, “You guys have better things to do. I’m not the guy.”


  27. DonS says:

    Per the story Carroll cited below, and easily sourced via google, on Biden calling for $1 billion for “war torn Georgia”:
    This automatically ups his viablilty as veep? Or not?
    On Georgia, the dissonance is deafentning. On the same page in the paper you can read some relatively sensible story about the genesis, or confusion over the genesis of the conflict. On the other side of the page is some rant about punishing Russia from Condi, or some surrogate, and Biden too calling for “consequences”. I guess we should be impressed that he has jumped on the popular outrage against Russia bandwagon but not “squealing in some hyperventilating manner” as Steve opines.
    It seems it really doesn’t matter anymore. Insanity rules.


  28. Chris Brown says:

    With all due respect, and I think you are due immense respect for what you do, I think you’re going out on the same limb with your Biden pronouncement as you went out on with your Bayh announcement a couple of weeks ago.
    I obviously have no idea who Obama will announce or when and certainly am not situated to have folks whispering in my ear; but I think the whole Wesley Clark thing is a bit to coy. (As you probably know, the dead enders at No Quarter took your Clark post and ran with it to denounce Obama as vindictive, which his association with Bayh demonstrates he certainly is not.)
    Clark was quoted yesterday as saying that he is ready to fulfill whatever duties at the convention are requested.
    Perhaps I missed it but I haven’t read anywhere that Clark has announced that he will not be VP.
    Again, I don’t know; but I’m guessing the selection will be someone the chatters have ruled out or not discussed.


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