Saturday, August 23, 2008

For the Women's Community, Joe Biden's a Good Choice

The wait is over. The text messages have been sent. The pundits have been proven wrong -- or right, depending on how they called it. The breaking news is in, the press conference held -- Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is the chosen one to stand beside Barack Obama and lead this country back from the brink to which Bush & Co. have pushed us.

Lord knows we've all had plenty of time to think about what this choice would mean, what it's impact might be. This build up to this announcement has been at times both masterful and irritating. All of the folks reportedly on the short list were analyzed by the pundit world right down to their toenails. There's no need to regurgitate that -- though personally, I just have to say I am glad it's not Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who's about as exciting as licking a wall. But I digress.

So let me look at this from a different perspective. From a key constituency where some folks are still not completely enamored with Barack Obama. Given that a Hillary Veep nomination was a nonstarter, I think for the women's community -- and Hilliary supporters specifically -- Biden is a good choice. NOW's website trumpeted the news of Biden's selection with the headline: "Obama Chooses VAWA Champion as Running Mate." The press release stresses that Biden is a good friend to women and a strong choice. While NOW doesn't necessarily speak for the entire women's community, the press seems to think they do and they are a bell weather in many respects -- so this immediate embrace of a Biden candidacy is a good omen.

Biden himself has always been proud of his work on women's issues, and violence against women in particular. "What I'm most proud of in my entire career is the Violence Against Women Act," Biden said in a quote from his web site. "It showed we can change people's lives, but the change is always one person at a time. There are many more laws and attitudes that need changing so women are treated with equal opportunities at work, in the classroom, and in our health care system."

Biden is clearly pro-choice, not afraid to vote against right-wing judicial nominees, and has also long been a vocal supporter of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities. He's also taken a keen interest in the fight against breast cancer. These are all key issues for those Hillary supporters who might still be on the fence, or if not on the fence still not completely happy campers. The familiarity of Biden, a man women's advocates fought with in the trenches for more than a decade to get the Violence Against Women Act passed, could be just the salve any lingering wounds might need.
Biden has a 100 percent voting record with the American Association of University Women. The group has voting records on their site back to 1981, and it's hard to find a Congress where he hasn't been right on just about all the votes they scored. Not always perfect -- but typically 90 percent and often 100 percent, consistently, on the broad range of women's issues the AAUW scores. This should also reassure women who are looking for an administration that will not just take their concerns seriously, but make addressing them a priority.

"He's brought change to Washington, Washington hasn't changed him," said Obama in introducing him at the Springfield press conference today. And that's probably true. Biden's blunt, hates bullshit, and will go after John McCain and the Straight Talk Express with unmistakable relish. Yes, folks, people want to have a beer with Joe Biden. These "everyman" qualities could be a good foil for Obama's more deliberate, thoughtful, inspirational approach. And let's just be clear -- Biden's a helluva campaigner.

My one worry about the Biden choice is this: it will be viewed by many as a clear admission on the part of the Obama Camp that the junior senator from Illinois is so unprepared to lead -- especially in the area of foreign policy -- that Obama had to go find a ringer to help him out. It will be up to Obama himself to prove this wrong.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

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