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Friday, August 29, 2008

O'Biden: Nader Hits the "MasterCard VP" Choice

by John Nichols (August 23 2008)

Barack Obama's supporters are saying that that Joe Biden is the perfect pick for vice president.

John McCain's supporters are saying that Biden was right when he said Obama was not ready for the job.

Who to believe? How about Ralph Nader.

The veteran consumer activist and frequent presidential candidate - this year bidding as an independent - offers a frank assessment that notes Biden's strengths but also explains why the senator from Delaware does not exactly represent "change we can believe in".

Here is Nader's take:

In naming the MasterCard Senator and pro-war Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Obama has chosen a running mate whose biting primary season criticisms of Obama will be used by McCain.

While Biden has shown backbone by supporting the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, habeas corpus for Guantanamo prisoners and voting for the McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance, it is difficult to see what Biden brings to the Obama campaign other than the possibility of being a rhetorically populist attack man against the McCain campaign.

Biden will have a tough time when people find out that as MBNA's man in the Senate -MBNA has been his biggest financial backer, after contributing $214,000 over his career -he was the long-time champion and key architect of, in the words of Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Chris Dodd, "one of the worst bills ever", the anti-consumer bankruptcy law, which helped pave the way for the present foreclosure crisis by shifting the risk for engaging in predatory lending practices from predatory lenders to hapless borrowers.

I doubt that the millions of Americans being pushed out of their homes and squeezed on interest rate payments will want to vote for a ticket with Biden's name on it when he was the one who worked through two presidential administrations to ram this legislation through, first with President Clinton who had the good sense to veto it, and then President Bush who had the moral bankruptcy to sign it.

The chief knock on Obama, besides his numerous flip-flops on matters of civil liberties, the war and justice, has been his lack of experience. That Obama ultimately picked the one person who most bluntly criticized his experience and readiness for the Presidency suggests that one of the reasons the Illinois Senator picked Biden was for his foreign policy experience. Does that include his Iraq war support? Does that include his support for the militaristic repression of Palestinians and their homeland instead of supporting the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements for a majority backed two-state solution?

Biden is highly regressive on criminal justice issues. He was the architect of the modern drug war (that is, the Anti-Drug Abuse of 1986), including mandatory minimum sentencing that can be credited with the world record US prison population. On foreign policy, Biden is a hawk who supported the use of military force in Iraq and has voted for every funding bill, put forward by Bush-Cheney

By picking Biden, arguably the most powerful pro-war Democratic Senator, to fill his foreign policy experience vacuum, Obama has squandered his biggest perceived image distinction with McCain, and can no longer ride the coattails of the anti-war movement and the majority of Americans who oppose Bush and Cheney's illegal foreign wars.

Biden, who voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act along with Obama, will not help much with the millions of independent voters who care about the Constitution. Hillary Clinton who after voting, like Biden, for this bill the first time in 2001, decided to vote against the reauthorization of the notoriously misnamed PATRIOT Act.

Coming from Delaware, Senator Biden knows full well the weak Delaware State chartering for large corporations that have, for 100 years, chosen Delaware as a most permissive jurisdiction for the concentrated powers of corporate officers and directors over all the corporate stakeholders, including shareholders and workers. We look forward to his broader responsibility as a vice presidential candidate to see whether it will include support for the long overdue federal chartering of large corporations endorsed by Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft.

Copyright (c) 2008 The Nation

Bill Totten


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