Editorial: It’s taken Biden a while to pick a running mate. So what?

Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that he would name his running mate about Aug. 1.
(Cliff Owen / Associated Press)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking some heat for postponing the announcement of his choice of a running mate, a decision he once suggested would be made at the beginning of this month but now could be more than a week away.

The impatience among his fellow Democrats isn’t all that surprising. Although vice presidential nominees typically haven’t swayed many voters, Biden’s pick is more eagerly anticipated than usual for several reasons: his age (he would be 78 on Inauguration Day), his promise to choose a female running mate and the speculation that he will choose a woman of color.

Biden added to the buildup by suggesting that he would make his choice well in advance of the Democratic convention. By prolonging the selection process now, he invites accusations that he’s indecisive or has no good options. Meanwhile, the delay has allowed attacks on the various candidates to multiply.


But seriously, people — get a grip. As with many inside-the-Beltway dramas, this one was ginned up largely by media and political insiders looking to promote their favored veepstakes candidate. At the end of the day, all that matters is whether the person Biden chooses is qualified to be on the ticket, and every name floated thus far is more qualified to work in the White House than the current occupant of the Oval Office.

It’s especially unseemly that in some eyes women of color are being pitted against one another. Referring to narratives portraying a contest between Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) complained: “Nobody is trying to pit Sen. Elizabeth Warren against [Michigan Gov. Gretchen] Whitmer,” two white candidates.

Besides, Biden isn’t dragging the process out in comparison to other recent presidential candidates. In 2016, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton waited until a few days before their respective party conventions to announce their running mates. In 2008, Barack Obama introduced Biden as his choice on Aug 23, two days before the first day of business at the Democratic convention.

Biden’s choice — whenever it’s announced — will bring an end to intra-party intrigue and induce some therapeutic amnesia about past divisions. Is it possible that Republicans will recycle criticisms of the eventual nominee that surfaced within the Democratic Party as Biden was making up his mind? Of course. But the Trump campaign has doubtlessly done plenty of opposition research on its own.

Biden supporters worried about the delayed announcement should calm down. The vice presidential choice matters and merits scrutiny, but that part of the race will be a sideshow in 2020, just as it has been in previous years. Whoever Biden picks, the attention of Democrats — and of principled Republicans and independents — will quickly focus on the imperative of ending the misrule of the incumbent.