Local delegate happy with Biden selection

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Burton A. Boxerman of St. Louis, a local historian and retired teacher from the Ritenour School District, who will be an Obama delegate at this week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, believes that Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) is a “strong choice” as Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate in the general election. Boxerman, who is one of 88 Missouri delegates at the Democratic National Convention, was interviewed on the eve of his departure for Denver, when speculation was widespread that Biden, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a veteran senator, would be tapped as Obama’s vice presidential running mate.

“Except for the fact that I initially felt a governor with executive experience would be good for the ticket, certainly Joe Biden is a very good choice for a number of reasons,” Boxerman said. “Biden’s name is very well-known. He has both the foreign policy experience and smarts which adds strength to the ticket and he has served in the U.S. Senate for 33 years, having first been elected at age 29. Biden just returned from an emergency visit to Georgia, has been to Iraq several times and to virtually every trouble spot on the globe. He is highly respected on both sides of the aisle, and is popular with the press.”

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Boxerman, who has been active in local Democratic politics for many years, says that he was attracted to Sen. Obama’s campaign from the very start. “I think the party has been looking for people with fresh ideas, who will excite the voters, and Obama certainly meets those criteria. A running mate like Joe Biden would add experience and toughness to the ticket. If Obama has a reluctance to be a ‘bulldog’ in response to attacks, certainly Joe Biden will not hesitate to fight back sharply.”

Regarding the issues that most concern him in the upcoming election, Boxerman said, “Unlike most Jewish voters who might put Israel at the very top of their list, my own feeling is that the economy is the most pressing issue. Of course I care strongly about Israel and foreign policy, but the increase in the price of gasoline at the pump, the ongoing war in Iraq, the mortgage crisis and the generally bad economic conditions certainly top the list of concerns of most Americans.

“As far as Israel is concerned, both Obama and Biden have impeccable voting records in support of Israel, and the Democratic Platform strongly reaffirms the historic ties between our party and the State of Israel, which go all the way back to when Missouri’s own President Harry S. Truman, a Democrat who recognized Israel immediately after it proclaimed its independence,” Boxerman continued.

Boxerman said that as an historian he has been struck by the fact that in the Democratic primaries, the two top candidates were an African-American and a woman, and that Joe Lieberman, the Jewish senator, who had been on Al Gore’s ticket in 2000, was being mentioned as a possible running mate for Sen. John McCain. “Certainly these developments show how far we have come as a nation. There are still a certain percentage of the population who would not vote for a black candidate under any circumstances, including many in places like Appalachia, where they should be strongly supportive of Obama’s policies.”

Asked to respond to charges that Obama, who served in the Illinois legislature before being elected two years ago to the Senate hasn’t had enough experience to be president, Boxerman said, “Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents had almost exactly the same amount of experience as has Senator Obama. He has also shown that he does not want to be surrounded by ‘yes men,’ expressing admiration for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, about how Lincoln put many of his strongest political opponents in his Cabinet, and said that he wanted a vice president who would challenge his views.” Boxerman said.

As an Obama delegate, Boxerman said he has no objection to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s name being placed in nomination, having a floor demonstration and a roll call vote. “I feel that such events are consistent with previous conventions, and feel at the end of the day most of Hillary’s supporters will follow her lead and rally around her ticket.”