Because of a bizarre dispute with our internet service provider, the Outpost web page is down. So here is my piece on Joe Biden:
Even in a short interview, Joe Biden manages to get a lot of words in.
Sen. Biden, D-Delaware, stopped in Montana last weekend as he campaigned to win the office of vice president under presidential candidate Barack Obama. In a brief telephone interview, he managed to cover a wide range of issues, from his newly selected opponent for vice president to the rights of suspected terrorists, from the chances of catching Osama Bin Laden to how the war in Iraq affects U.S. relations with Iran.
Republican candidate John McCain’s surprise pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate caused some Montana Republicans to predict last week that any chance Sen. Barack Obama had of winning the state has vanished.
A Rasmussen poll released after Sen. Biden’s visit seemed to back that claim: It showed Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., pulling away with a double-digit lead in what had been a close race.
But Sen. Biden was conceding nothing.
“This is the biggest issue election I have seen in my lifetime,” he said, noting, however, that the just-concluded Republican convention included little discussion of what Sen. Biden considers major issues: energy, healthcare, “green” jobs and the loss of jobs overseas.
He also said that he and Gov. Palin have some things in common.
“I own a gun, I have a son, and he’s going to Iraq,” the senator said.
Vice presidential debates tend to carry a low-profile, but Gov. Palin’s freshness on the national scene and Sen. Biden’s decades of Washington experience could make their upcoming debate in October the most gripping of the campaign season.
The difficulty, Sen. Biden said, is that so little is known about Gov. Palin’s positions on national issues.
“It could be that there’s something there,” he said, “but I assume her policies are the same as John’s.”
And although he considers Sen. McCain a friend, Sen. Biden was quick to criticize the Republican’s understanding of key foreign policy issues. Although Sen. McCain has promised to pursue Osama Bin Laden to the “gates of hell,” the senator and governor don’t know where to look, Sen. Biden said.
“I can show them where Osama Bin Laden lives,” he said. “I can show them where Al Qaida lives.”
The Bush administration’s failure to capture Bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding out in a remote area of Pakistan, is only one of Sen. Biden’s complaints about the last eight years. He also expressed concerns that many of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission haven’t been implemented, and he said that the Bush administration’s willingness to use torture and other coercive methods have hurt America’s reputation.
“We’re making a laughingstock of ourselves around the world,” he said, adding that Al Qaida uses American mistreatment of prisoners as a recruiting tool.
In her speech at the Republican National Convention, Gov. Palin said of Obama, “Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America. He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”
It wasn’t clear exactly what she meant. Sen. Biden presumed she was referring to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Sen. McCain has called that ruling one of the worst in Supreme Court history.
Sen. Biden disagreed. “Habeas corpus doesn’t free anybody,” he said. “The most a court can do is say, ‘Try them.’”
The Bush administration has undermined U.S. credibility around the world, Sen. Biden said, leaving it more isolated than it ever has been in his lifetime. And Sen. McCain has no plan to change any of that, he said.
One result is that Iran has gained in influence and prestige, he said. U.S. military action removed or reduced two of Iran’s foes – Saddam Hussein and the Taliban – and installed a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq.
“Iran is a hell of a lot closer to having a bomb than when these guys started,” Sen. Biden said.
The war in Iraq, despite the apparent success of the surge, remains uncertain, in his view.
“Our military guys have done every single thing they have ever been asked to do,” he said. While it was clear that increasing troop levels would result in at least temporary reductions in violence, achieving a stable peace has proved more difficult.
Now, after “six painful years,” the president finally has agreed to a timetable for withdrawing troops, a move that Sen. Obama has favored. The agreement of President Bush, Sen. Obama and the Iraqi government on a need for a timetable leaves Sen. McCain the “odd man out,” Sen. Biden said.
Both presidential candidates called in their acceptance speeches for efforts to get beyond the bitter partisanship that has divided Congress in recent years, but Sen. Biden expressed some skepticism that the efforts would be successful.
The Senate as a whole is ready to work together, he said, and he said that he has a good working relationship with senators on the other side of the aisle. But he said that the Republican Party remains dominated by neoconservatives and campaign strategists such as Karl Rove.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” Sen. Biden said.
CORRECTION: I don't mean internet service provider. I mean web host.