Monday, September 8, 2008

Analysis: Joe Biden: Vice Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech

Following are excerpts of Sen. Joe Biden's (D-DE) speech [RCP Transcript, August 27, 2008] in which he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for vice president:

"Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask:
* Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?
* Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to fill up the car?
* Winter's coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills?
* Another year and no raise?
* Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?
* Now, we owe more on the house than it's worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?
* How are we gonna be able to retire?
That's the America that George Bush has left us."

Comment: This assertion -- that President George Bush is responsible for the current economic hardships -- is dubious. Although it is very common to blame (or credit) the sitting president for the economy, it's not obviously correct to do so. Just because the economy is bad (or good) WHILE so-and-so is president doesn't mean that the economy is bad (or good) BECAUSE so-and-so is president. Correlation doesn't imply causation. Biden needs to defend this causal claim.


"These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard and played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays. That promise is the bedrock of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now it's in jeopardy. I know it. You know it. But John McCain doesn't get it."

Comment: Biden is claiming that McCain is out of touch, a common accusation in politics. What does he believe McCain is out of touch on? Does McCain deny that people who work hard and play by the rules should prosper? Does he deny that people in the middle-class are facing economic hardship? It's not clear what accusation Biden is making. At any rate, Biden is trying to portray McCain as being stubbornly ignorant on some obvious truth, but Biden doesn't specify WHAT truth, nor does he provide evidence that McCain is ignorant of it.


"I've been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms: this Administration's policy has been an abject failure. America cannot afford four more years of this."

Comment: Biden is making the "failed policies" accusation, but not providing any of the clarity and evidence that is needed in order to substantiate such an accusation. What policy is he talking about? What was its goal? Was it implemented fully? What was the time frame for success? What is the empirical evidence of its failure? What alternatives were available?

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