It’s debate prep season for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, which means there are now two Barack Hussein Obamas — the president, and Ohio Senator Rob Portman (who serves as Romney’s practice opponent) — two Willard Mitt Romneys — the real one, and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who’s helping Obama prepare — and now two Joseph Robinette Bidens: the great man himself, and attorney Theodore Olson. (Still, no word on who’ll play Paul Ryan in Biden’s warm-up.)
Olson, an insanely accomplished Supreme Court lawyer, is perhaps best loved by conservatives for winning Bush v. Gore in 2000 and most admired by liberals for challenging the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 (and successfully arguing for its nullification in California’s courts.) He is “one of the most skilled, intelligent, and successful litigators in America,” a Paul Ryan spokesperson tells Politico, and therefore a perfect placeholder for Biden, known as one of Washington’s strongest debaters.
But where Biden is equal parts bluntness, ebullience, impetuousness, and pragmatism (with some “blue-collar appeal and foreign-policy cred” thrown in), Olson seems more like your run-of-the-mill legal genius, all cerebral and logical and perfectly prepped. Combine that with his Chicago roots and it might start to seem like Olson would make a better stand-in for Biden’s boss.