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Biden Watch

Via First Read, this is about as impressive a case as I've seen a VP candidate make for himself:

Remember that letter that South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) sent to Obama -- over the fact that the Foreign Relations subcommittee that Obama chairs hasn't held a hearing on the issue of Afghanistan?

Well, Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden -- a possible Obama veep pick -- responds to DeMint with his own letter. "As you are aware, under my chairmanship the Foreign Relations Committee has addressed most Afghanistan issues at the full committee level. I believe that this is the best way of ensuring the most comprehensive examination of the complex issues involved, and of ensuring the highest-level Administration participation," he writes. 

"On the particular issue of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, we have held three full committee hearings in the last 22 months...  At all three of these hearings, we were fortunate enough to have the expert testimony ... of former NATO commander and Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, Gen. James R. Jones (USMC, ret.). At my request, Sen. Obama chaired the confirmation hearing for our next ambassador to NATO, which he focused on NATO’s mission in Afghanistan."

Biden concludes, "Sen. Obama has displayed great leadership on this issue: he called nearly a year ago for the deployment of at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan -- it has since become the accepted position of a wide range of U.S. military officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I look forward to working closely with him, and with you, on any future Afghanistan hearings that might be held in our committee."

Biden's skill at defusing these issues far outweighs his penchant for the occasional gaffe, in my mind. Granted, he'd also step on Obama's outsider aura somewhat. But then he'd buy the nominee a little regular guy cred, too. (I realize those two statements sound contradictory, but I don't think they are. Biden hails from a working-class Catholic background and, as he's quick to point out, is one of the two or three poorest members of the Senate--a rarefied club to be sure.)

P.S. Doesn't this remind you a bit of the way Obama came to Biden's defense during that Des Moines Register debate in December? That was actually the first thing I thought of...

--Noam Scheiber