This was a smart move. Joe Biden chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and has been a Senator for 36 years. His experience on foreign policy and in the senate makes the combined ticket more balanced. Though McCain has claimed that in his choice Obama has shown up the weaknesses that do not make him ready for such high office.
Mitt Romney is rumoured to be seriously in the running for McCain’s VP. Here is a quote from Romney that may surprise you on intelligent design:
“In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed,” he said. “If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.”
“I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe. And I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.”
Romney as governor stopped intelligent design being taught in the science classroom.
Also being talked about is Governor Tim Pawlenty from Minnesota – while it is unclear what his stance is on intelligent design he did appoint a commissioner of education that wanted the Teach the controversy curriculum. He also vetoed stem cell research. Pawlenty’s wife was instrumental in him moving from Roman Catholicism to Evangelicalism. Commentating on his faith he said:
“As a person, I am defined by my commitment to Christ and people always say well there is an official role and there is but I don’t think people in public life should shy away from sharing their faith perspective because it informs others about their value system and what they believe and who they are and so I am a committed Christian and I am someone who is proud to say that my value system, my beliefs are shaped my faith and my faith in Christ and I think that is informative for people to know and I’m not bashful about that.”
The problem is the public assumption that if you are not a Christian then you lack a sufficient value system for the Presidency. Rick Warren commented that the reason atheists poll less likely voters than a female, black or gay candidate is that they do not believe there is a higher power they are accountable to. Though if your constitution, legislature, courts and civil society are not enough then resorting to god seems rather fanciful as a solution.
Biden is Roman Catholic, and feels that his faith motivates him to be against abuse of power:
“The animating principle of my faith, as taught to me by church and home, was that the cardinal sin was abuse of power,” he said in an interview with the Monitor. “It was not only required as a good Catholic to abhor and avoid abuse of power, but to do something to end that abuse.”
I would agree that people wanting to stop others abusing power, rather than a hope that belief in the supernatural stops someone abusing their office, seems a lot more practical. Biden has also come out against intelligent design being taught in the science classroom and the politicizing of faith under the Bush administration.
The question is can Obama and Biden change the campaign from one of aspiration to a clearly defined message of what they stand for. The policies are clear from the Obama website but that needs to be in the message. There is only so much you can do speaking about a vision without having a road map nor talking up the fact that you can be trusted to take people there.
It is going to be close.