Obama Gets His Attack Dog

It can’t be easy hitting the Democratic convention podium after the pair of Clintons and the attendant drama over whether they would, or wouldn’t, be effusive enough in their backing for Barack Obama. No one worried about that when Joe Biden’s turn came to speak. Instead, the drama surrounding the new vice presidential nominee’s speech centered on a simpler question: just how aggressively would he go on the attack against McCain? With much of the chatter among Democratic backers around Denver centering around the question of whether Obama has been hard enough on his rival, the betting was that his new partner would take on that role with more relish.

Biden clearly signalled where he was headed from the start. Paying the ritual tribute to his Mom that accompanies all such speeches, he added a combative touch to the usual expressions of love and thanks. He told a story of how she tought him that failure in life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. “When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, she sent me back out and demanded that I bloody their nose so I could walk down that street the next day.”

And with that, the Senator from Delaware launched into a full-throated attack on rival John McCain and his record on the economy. And like the Clintons before him, he emphasized the effort to link McCain with the current administration's record. "John thinks that during the Bush years 'We've made great progress economically,'" said Biden, showing much of the anger and passion that Obama has lacked. "I think it's been abysmal."

After a quick tour of the economy, he then went after the Republican nomimee on foreign policy. And to McCain's argument that he is far more experienced than Obama, Biden countered that the Arizona Senator's decisions have been flawed.

"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 abysmal failure. American cannot afford four more years of this," Biden said. "Now, despite being complicit in this catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama isn't ready to protect our national security. Now, let me ask you: whose judgement should we trust?" Reeling off a list of areas where he argued the administration has failed -- Afghanistan, Iraq and the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban -- he concluded: "John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right."

Get out the Kleenex. The nose bloodying has begun.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.