The theme of this Time magazine article by Jay Newton-Small, "Obama and Biden's Chemistry Test," is how wonderful the "chemistry" is between Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden. However, when you read the details of the story, you can't help but wonder if there is already trouble brewing between the two. In fact, the Time story starts out on a downbeat note (emphasis mine):
On Saturday morning Barack Obama and his newly-minted running mate Joe Biden stopped at a diner outside of Youngstown, Ohio for some breakfast. Obama made a few brief comments to the press about Hurricane Gustav's imminent threat before turning to greet diners. Five minutes later, it was Biden's turn to be asked about the gathering storm. His answer was three times as long as Obama's, and included details of his daughter's time at Tulane University in New Orleans. As he kept talking Obama, about 10 feet away, kept glancing over at Biden. For an awkward 20 seconds or so, the Democratic nominee looked a little concerned about Biden's soliloquy. But soon enough, he left Biden alone, turning towards the door to chat with other patrons.
After 19 months of campaigning as the sole focus of attention, the moment was a telling one for Obama, who is learning to share the spotlight—for better and for worse—with a man whose personality is almost polar opposite of his own.
Despite his own indications that things aren't all that well in River City, Newton-Small still assures us that there is really a happy relationship between the two Democrats:
So far, in the ten days since Obama chose Biden as his veep nominee, the two seem to have a good relationship. In their first joint television interview, with 60 Minutes, they didn't interrupt and talk over one another the way John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards, did four years ago - an early omen of the bad blood that would flow between them. Obama and Biden genuinely seem to look out for one another, a relationship strengthened by the immediate and strong bond between their wives.
But before you feel all warm and gooey inside about the terrific chemistry between these two men, Newton-Small comes back to their rocky relationship:
But Obama didn't always have faith in Biden, aides say. The long-serving Delaware senator is a gregarious extrovert who, upon learning your profession, will regale you with stories of one of his zillion relatives who, coincidentally, does the same thing. Obama is an introvert who spends more time asking people about their lives and concerns and talking about what solutions are important to them.
...when Obama first started shopping for a vice president, Biden didn't quite believe he would be considered. He knows his own faults, most notably a notorious verbosity that made the Obama campaign nervous when Biden was being vetted. Still, despite his long record of exaggeration and long-windedness—including Biden's famous remark that Obama's is "clean," which marred the launch of Biden's campaign—Biden pointed to the rest of his campaign as evidence he can (mostly) stay on message.
...There is certainly no danger of not hearing from Biden, and indeed the next two months are going to be an exercise in self-discipline for him. Following this past weekend's funeral of Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who died of a brain aneurism, Biden was asked by reporters about his own aneurisms that nearly killed him 20 years ago. Four hundred and sixteen words later Biden abruptly stopped talking, right in the middle of a train of thought that any other time could've easily gone on for another three thousand words. Looking like a smoker trying to resist a pack of cigarettes, for a moment he seemed to be reminding himself of all the important reasons to quit cold turkey. Then Biden visibly reined himself in, made his excuses and then a bee line for the buses, leaving Obama to shake hands alone for 15 minutes.
So, Jay, are you really trying to tell us that Joe Biden is an annoying blabbermouth who is already starting to get on Barack Obama's nerves? Just as we had to wait until after the 2004 election to find out, despite the public buddy-buddy image presented by the mainstream media, that John Kerry despised John Edwards, we are probably going to have to wait until after this election to find out the real nature of the chemistry between Obama and Biden. However, thanks for the helpful hints, Jay. You gave us more than enough to read between your happy face lines.
(Photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP)