This one’s a flashback Obamateurism of sorts in that it happened over a year ago, but we’re just finding out about it now, thanks to Time Magazine’s excerpts from David Plouffe’s campaign memoir this week. Plouffe recalls the moment when he got a chance to discuss with Barack Obama his selection of Joe Biden as running mate. Plouffe told him that
“You just can’t wing something like this — it’s too important.”
Oh, wait — sorry! No, actually Obama said this about Sarah Palin:
Obama and I had a long talk late that afternoon to evaluate Palin. “I just don’t understand how this ends up working out for McCain,” he said. “In the long term, I mean. The short term will be good for them. But when voters step back and analyze how he made this decision, I think he’s going to be in big trouble. You just can’t wing something like this — it’s too important.”
Maybe some people can criticize McCain’s choice, but not the man who picked Joe Biden as his running mate. If Palin didn’t have campaign polish at times, Biden often acted as though he was drinking polish on the campaign trail. The Constitutional law professor managed to quote the wrong section of the Constitution during a televised debate with Palin, famously warned an audience that Obama’s inexperience would invite our enemies to “test” us, and once asked a wheelchair-bound man to “stand up!” at a rally. As far as interview savvy goes, Biden warmly recalled Franklin Roosevelt’s televised speeches during the Wall Street collapse in 1929, somehow forgetting that FDR wasn’t President until 1933 and commercial television didn’t exist for several years after that.
Palin managed to turn out the base in the election, blunting a catastrophe for the GOP into a mere debacle. What did Biden do? He turned out Delaware, which had gone Republican in national elections as recently as … 1988. As Andrew Malcolm often notes, the administration has had to keep Biden under wraps for most of the year, quietly neglecting to publish his schedule in hopes of keeping his fumbles off the front pages.
It may have been Obama’s first national “What was he thinking?” moment. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his last, nor his last Obamateurism.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.