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May 7, 2012

Israel (Factor) choice for VP: Joe Biden

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/israel_factor_choice_for_vp_joe_biden_20120507/

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Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu talking during a meeting on Middle East security in New Orleans, November 2010.

Our Israel Factor panelists seem to like Vice President Joe Biden. Back ‎in February, he was the Factor’s pick for the next Secretary of State in a ‎second Obama administration. In April, he is ranked as best for Israel of ‎all the Vice Presidential prospectives we presented, with the amazing mark of 8 (out of ‎‎10). ‎

Obviously, Biden has the advantage of already being the sitting Vice ‎President, while all other prospective VPs are no more than names in ‎newspapers, nominated for the job by the political punditry. Still, it is ‎interesting to note that while Mitt Romney gets the better marks from ‎our panel (over Obama), no Republican contender for the second-in-‎command job seems nearly as attractive to the panel as Biden. Jeb Bush ‎and Chris Christie score close to a 7 (6.78), Huckabee and Rubio trail ‎behind them with 6.37 and 6.44. If Obama was as acceptable to our ‎panel as Biden, there would barely be any reason to keep asking the ‎panel to rank him against Romney. ‎

Biden was not always as popular with the panel as he is today. When ‎he was running for President, back in 2006, our panelists were only ‎half-enthusiastic about him. They thought he’d take an active role in the ‎peace process, but couldn’t trust him to “take military action against ‎Iran”. In this survey from Sept. 2006, he trailed behind fellow Democrats ‎Clinton, Gore, Richardson and Bayh (and six Republican prospective ‎nominees). In this one, from September 2007, he comes behind nine ‎other candidates including Bloomberg, Thompson, Romney, ‎Brownback (but is still ranked higher than Obama). ‎

Biden is not an easy man to define as far as our panel is concerned. At ‎times unpredictable, our panel was all over the place in an attempt to ‎rank him: “Joe Biden is the one candidate who gets the most ‎remarkable spread of marks, ranging from 1 to 8”, I wrote following a ‎December 2007 Factor survey. Today he is not as confusing as he once ‎was. His lowest score with our panel was 6. His highest score: 9. Even ‎panelists that ranked Romney much higher than Obama gave Biden ‎good grades, in some cases more than all others. ‎

Why? I’m speculating here, but I think it was the famous incident ‎during Biden’s Israel visit back in 2010. Remember? “Hours after Vice ‎President Joseph R. Biden Jr. vowed unyielding American support ‎for Israel’s security here on Tuesday, Israel’s Interior Ministry ‎announced 1,600 new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem”. ‎

Biden was furious, but was willing to accept Israel’s apology and not to ‎let this incident ruin his good relations with many Israeli politicians. ‎No, he does not much admire the Netanyahu government and its ‎policies, but somehow was able to keep it all as disagreements between ‎friends. With Netanyahu and Obama something always seemed ‎personal, with Biden discrepancies weren’t as bitter. We fought, we ‎argued, we got angry, now we’re friends again. True or false, Biden was ‎able not to make Israelis cringe even as he was harshly criticizing their ‎policies. So our panel wants him back (preferably with Mitt Romney at ‎the top of the ticket).‎

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