09/23/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Biden And Our Twenty-First Century Election

In picking Senator Biden, Senator Obama and his operatives have set the tone for the General Election. Choosing Biden was the safest bet inside the party and outside. Senator Clinton and her supporters can get behind this decision. Biden's not a hawk or a dove, he's a foreign policy expert. He has the judicial experience. He's real and a straight-talker (so straight there's even a nasty remark to play on his running mate.)

The Obama camp has decided this election is a bigger battleground than a basket of states that are too tough to call two months out. This has nothing to do with winning a battleground state, as evidenced by the size of Delaware. This is about scope and ideas. It's about an electorate that is choosing between the status quo of the 20th century and defining its identity for the 21st century. Obama is betting this is a message election, not an electoral map puzzle.

Like in 1992, when Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked Al Gore of Tennessee, economic times are tough. This time, we are post-9/11. This time we are in a war and playing on a completely different global political and economic stage. This is the first real turn-of the century election, post-Clinton era, post-Bush era.

Ipso facto, reading the mood of the electorate is the challenge ahead for Obama-Biden and McCain-?

Listening to and addressing the source of the electorate's discomfort, like in 1992, is crucial. McCain got fancy in trying to pin Obama as an elitist celebrity, because now the storyline is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

The Olympics are ending this weekend, officially ushering in perhaps the most intensely watched presidential election of our lifetimes. Led off by back-to-back convention weeks, we will then see four weeks of debates, one week apart, vice-presidential debates, and vote. It will be two months of grueling campaigning and soul-searching for the electorate.

Then we'll know who most Americans feel they are and want to be this century, in the first full democratic expression of their will in the 21st century.