Debut in Denver

Our view: This vice presidential candidate could help Maryland and the nation

August 25, 2008

The Democratic National Convention, set to begin in Denver this evening, could offer voters a chance to see past the scripting and assess the personal chemistry of the party's new presidential campaign team..

The blue collar roots, foreign policy expertise and congressional experience of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. promises to complement Sen. Barack Obama's crowd pleasing agenda for change. Whether the two will offer a compelling partnership remains to be seen.

Conventional wisdom has it that the choice of a vice presidential candidate is a piece of meaningless political stagecraft. Vice President Dick Cheney has proved that wrong. So, how might Sen. Biden make a difference for voters in Maryland and across the nation, in the coming campaign and in the White House?

For starters, earlier this month Sen. Obama advocated re-establishing the National Space Council , which traditionally has been chaired by the vice president. That means that, if Obama is elected and carries through with his plans to recreate the council, Sen. Biden could play a key role in shaping space policy, making decisions likely to effect Maryland's nearly 13,000 space-related jobs.

Voters in Baltimore, plagued by widespread drug addiction and related crime, should also be encouraged by Mr. Biden's authorship of a law in the 1990s that provided substantial federal aid to put more police on the streets here and in other cities. The senator also authored laws that increased federal spending on drug traffic interdiction and treatment.

As a commuter between Washington and Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden surely knows firsthand the need for increased spending on mass transit . And, on the environment, Sen. Biden has recognized with Senate votes the need to fight global warming and aggressively pursue alternative energy sources to end American dependence on imported oil.

Beyond such specifics, Sen. Biden's good humored passion for debate promises to enliven the fall campaign. After years of Mr. Cheney's dark presence, Sen. Biden may offer an alternative that many voters could welcome.

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