In evaluating the VP pick, one is tempted toward making unqualified evaluations. For example, I could easily say the nomination of Biden doesn’t impress me, but then none of the commonly named men and women under consideration would have impressed me. The commonly believed cause behind Biden’s nomination is his foreign policy experience. Regrettably the product of that foreign policy experience has been for the most part belligerence. As Obama has entered the moderation phase of the election, he has been sending mixed signals on foreign policy, including remarks about the recent Georgia and Russian conflict that were slightly less belligerent than McCain’s comments, a less than impressive feat.
As noted in the Austrailian of all places, McCain and Biden share an interventionist streak in policy. They in fact were co-sponsors of the resolution authorizing the U.S. to enter the Kosovo conflict in 1999. Both also voted in favor of the resolution to invade Iraq. Just this path month, Senator Biden requested that an additional $1B be given to the Georgian government. He stated in regards to that conflict, “The war that began in Georgia is no longer about that country alone. The outcome there will determine whether we realise the grand ambition of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.” That Europe apparently stretches now east of Turkey and almost borders Iran.
In what will surely become the dominant thread of conversation, at least in Catholic blog circles, will be Biden’s tepid opposition to abortion. Highlights of his record include supporting the partial birth abortion ban. (Despite what others are claiming, he agreed in conclusion with the Supreme Court judgement upholding the ban.) He also affirms the Church teaching that life begins at conception. On the troubling side is his insistence that privacy should provide an umbrella for performing abortions. Like almost all politicians, he has been supportive of ESCR. His NRLC rating of 0% will attract plenty of attention, but his rating of 36% by NARAL in 2003 will likely be ignored. Already efforts are underway to find bishops who will go on the record in stating their willingness to refuse communion to Senator Biden. Archbishop Chaput of Denver has already stated his expectation that Biden will not seek communion. There is no word on whether soon-to-be Bishop of Wilmington Malooly will request his installation mass to be moved to November. One would imagine the first item his agenda won’t be ending any controversy over whether he as shepherd finds Biden unworthy to receive, even if that is the first agenda item for many politically involved Catholics. Even so, Biden is a good example of the pro-life dilemma in which even minimal agreement can advance the pro-life cause further than it would have gone lacking that agreement. Are the threats over denial of communion likely to erode even that small amount of agreement or are they likely to strengthen his pro-life advocacy? I would bet the former.