It may be wishful thinking to long for more adults in politics — men and women who speak with authority and from great experience. Whenever I want what, in a different context, the late Levon Helm called "an adult dose," I listen to Joe Biden.
He gave a good speech yesterday with the single best line so far of the campaign, which may be tough to top. He offered this bumper-sticker to summarize President Obama's accomplishments: "Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive." In eight words, Biden offered the most compelling rationale yet for Obama's reelection, and like all great slogans, it resonates with truth beyond the short phrase. Obama — and our military — accomplished what all the huffing and puffing of the Bush administration never could: capturing and killing one of America's top two or three enemies of all time. Obama’s loans to GM were part of an aggressive intervention in the economy that Republicans opposed and Mitt Romney still does.
But the thrust of the speech was a strong defense of Obama's foreign policy and an attack on Romney's. The nice twist was to conflate Romney's outdated cold-war outlook — Russia is our biggest enemy — with his outdated, trickle-down economic views.
Biden is right, and I think some voters will care. The theme of Romney taking us backward has real resonance, because voters, while not happy with the present, have no wish for the recent past of Bush economics or foreign policy. For years, Republicans were able to paint Democrats with the Carter-Mondale brush — for exactly 12 years in fact until Bill Clinton and Al Gore put that to rest. The statute of limitations on reminding voters of the failures of the Bush administration has not expired. There's still milk in that cow and Biden made it moo yesterday.