The vice presidential selection process can be like the build-up to a big game. The contestants often look roughly even on paper – one with a particular strength in this area, the other with stand-out credentials in that area – and a reasonable case can be made for either’s superiority. But then you actually get to see them on the same field and immediately realize what a gross mismatch it actually is.
A good example of this in sports is the 2007 college football title game, an even-seeming contest between 12-0 Ohio State and 12-1 Florida that quickly turned into a thorough Gator rout. Matched against Florida, the Buckeyes looked like a middling Pop Warner squad.
Moments ago, we witnessed the VP equivalent of this phenomenon, when Tim Kaine was called to the outdoor stage at Invesco Field to deliver a 10-minute speech.
The Virginia governor, by all accounts, was one of the finalists for Barack Obama’s running-mate slot – and strong arguments were made for why he’d be the best pick. The case went something like this: He’s charismatic, Catholic, speaks Spanish, has executive experience, and would complement Obama’s reform/outside Washington message. At the same time, equally strong arguments were made against Joe Biden – who was, it was said, too old, too much of an insider and too much of a loose cannon.
But is there any doubt now who the better pick was? The speech Kaine just completed was competent, but utterly forgettable. He drew on his Catholic faith by referring to a Bible story and showed off his much-ballyhooed Spanish-speaking skills when he mentioned his stint as a missionary in Honduras – but none of this captured the audience’s interest because his delivery was completely bland and formulaic. He sounded like a man reading words from a prepared text. It was the polar opposite of the confident, forceful and heartfelt performance Biden put on last night.
It’s hard to believe anyone ever thought Kaine and Biden were in the same league.