Joe Biden: The Democratic Dick Cheney

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Barack Obama’s selection of Joe Biden as his running mate raises some of the same interesting questions that George W. Bush’s selection of Dick Cheney did back in 2000.

Here me out.

If Obama/Biden wins, Joe Biden will be 66 years old when he takes office as Vice-President.

If they are re-elected in 2012, he’ll be 70 years old when the second Obama/Biden Administration starts unless, for some reason, he’s replaced on the ticket. While that’s possible, it hasn’t happened in American politics since FDR replaced John Nance Garner with Henry Wallace in 1940, and replaced Henry Wallace with Harry S. Truman in 1944. Since then, there have been calls for various President’s to dump their Vice-President when the run for re-election — Eisenhower in 1956, Bush I in 1992, Bush II, 2004 — but they’ve never pulled the trigger.

It’s unlikey that Obama would either.

Finally, Biden will be 73 years old on Election Day 2016, and by then will have been in politics for 46 years.

Does anyone seriously think that, at this point, he’d be a candidate for President to succeed Barack Obama ?

That’s about as unlikely as it was that Dick Cheney would ever run to succeed George W. Bush.

So, like Cheney, Biden will in some sense be an unfettered Vice-President who won’t have to worry about whether his actions would have any real impact on his political future.

And, like the Republicans in 2008, the Democrats in 2016 would enter the election cycle without a Vice-President serving as the clear successor to an outgoing President. By then, Hillary Clinton would be 69 years old and, quite arguably, beyond what ever is left of her prime. So, the Democrats would have a wide-open field yet again.

More than one political pundit criticized Bush’s choice of Cheney, and his decision to keep Cheney on the ticket in 2004, because it left the Republican Party without a clear successor; something which arguably resulted in the nomination of John McCain, a candidate whose history of bucking GOP trends, and annoying various parts of the base in the process, is well-known.

Arguably, Obama is setting his party up for the same problem in eight years by choosing a running mate who in all likelihood is not going to run to suceed him.

Thoughts ?