All DC’s abuzz today with talk of Joe Biden as a Vice Presidential nominee. I think putting someone who voted for the 2002 Iraq AUMF on the ticket may be more politically problematic than people realize — Obama has cited his opposition to that bill as key evidence of his good judgment, but presumably you’d want to put Biden forward as a knowledgeable and experienced foreign policy person, thus setting up a problematic contradiction. But that vote aside, Biden really is someone who’s genuinely knowledgeable about foreign policy questions rather than simply being “strong on defense” or some BS. What’s more, from a Heads in the Sand perspective, picking Biden would signal a clear intention to engage with McCain on national security issues rather than try to dodge away from them, which is definitely a decision I support.
A neglected aspect of the Biden record, however, is that his ascendancy would be excellent news for the SUPERTRAIN. Biden commutes back-and-forth from Delaware to Washington regularly on the Acela, so he appreciates what high-speed rail can do. What’s more, Wilmington recently lost its scheduled air service making Delaware a plane-free state that depends on rail for its connectivity. Biden spends a lot of time on foreign policy and Judiciary Committee business, so he’s not as much of a legislative leader on these topics as his fellow Delawarian Tom Carper, but he’s still one of the best friends rail has in the Senate. Beyond that, Biden’s son sits on the Amtrak board and unlike some of Amtrak’s leadership (which besides Biden is heavily dominated by Republicans) is actually a forceful advocate for Amtrak and for improving rail.