If Wednesday night is anything to go by, the biggest asset Joe Biden brings to the Obama ticket may not actually be his much-vaunted breadth of experience. It may be his humanity.
Whether you were just beneath the podium in the Pepsi Centre or watching it on television, you could not help but notice what it is that Mr Biden has in copious quantities that Barack Obama does not. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. And nothing affects the Delaware senator more than his own family.
It is why he was crying when he stepped on to the stage after an introduction by his son, Beau, the attorney general of Delaware and army reservist who will shortly leave for a tour in Iraq. Did you see the embrace between them? Hallmark could not have made a better father-son moment. America knows that Biden talks too much, but it is a flaw they will tolerate because the words come from his heart. And it is that, more than anything else, that Mr Biden can help with, because Mr Obama, by contrast, is so cool in his cleverness.
Sure, Mr Biden talked about foreign policy, because that was the ostensible reason for bringing him on board. The senator ticked off those areas of world business – Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Georgia – where he said Mr Obama had been right and where John McCain had been wrong.
He also showed that, as the Democrats were hoping, he will have no compunction in going after Mr McCain, never mind how friendly they may be outside politics. In pursuit of that, he instituted a decent back-and-forth chant in the hall, listing areas where Mr McCain has voted with Republicans on the wrong sides of issues. "That's not change," he declared, to which delegates roared: "That's more of the same."
Mr Biden has a reputation for good oratory, but his speech was a little pale beside Bill Clinton's. But that may not have mattered, because in Denver he was reintroduced to Americans as a man with a real beating heart. Beau reminded us of how his mother and the senator's first wife, Neilia, died in a crash between his first being elected to the Senate at the age of just 29 and his taking the oath of office. Better still, Mr Biden's mother was in the house.
Senator Biden ill-fits the Obama mantra of change. But with hardscrabble roots, he should attract those meat-and-spud, white voters who mostly elude Mr Obama. Best yet, Mr Biden is a man who looks like he "feels their pain" – better than Mr Obama does.
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