What's wrong with initiating the next presidential election in earnest immediately after the last one concludes?

Joe Biden.

I am guessing that most of our reading community does not understand my admiration for Joe Biden. You see the grandstanding, bloviating, self-absorbed senator always mugging for the cameras. I see that Joe Biden too, of course. But I also see the Joe Biden who is talented, diligent, and dedicated to good government. I admire the America-loving public official who has spent almost his entire career learning foreign policy and the judiciary in order to be a constructive element of the solution. He is, in fact, quite good at and what he does, and he oftentimes offers incredibly astute analysis on the topics to which he had dedicated his life.

But then you wave the White House in front of him, and he contracts a classic case of "Potomac Fever," which causes him to froth at the mouth.

Today on Fox News Sunday (see note below on FNS), when asked to comment on John McCain's assertion that congressional control of the military was unconstitutional, Biden launched into a tirade against George Bush (not McCain): "The President doesn't understand the Constitution."

Biden further allowed that the President held a "unitary" view of executive power in relation to the other branches, cleverly using a phrase (unitary executive) that has become a code word for calling the President an inchoate dictator.

Why do that? Clearly, Candidate Biden hoped to make a little headway with the most strident and adamant Bush-haters.

"Did you hear what Biden said about Bush?"

"Yeah. That was fantastic."

Next Topic: "General Betray Us" and MoveOn.org.

Biden said: "MoveOn.org was wrong." Give him some credit for admitting the obvious. Many of his colleagues could not summon the courage to go that far. But Biden went on to qualify his statement: The Move-On folks are good Americans whose frustration got the better of them. The wanton misleadership of the President drove his patriotic opponents to do this unsavory thing--but come on fellas--this is no "capital offense."

So, while gently criticizing MoveOn, the senator made clear he was with them all the way .

My beef with the system? Biden is better than that. If he were not under intense pressure to please the unhinged wing of his party, he would certainly offer words and actions more in keeping with his desire to bring positive change. This current election cycle is the logical extension of the Clinton (42) brain trustís innovation to American politics: the "permanent campaign." If a sitting president must campaign constantly while in office, the opposition must campaign constantly to counter the President, and the would-be presidents must campaign constantly, forming a shadow government.

Accountability is good for the system--but ultra-democracy snuffs out republican statesmanship. Sometimes the people's representatives must do necessarily unappetizing things (remember the sausage analogy) in order to make the system work. The twenty-four hour news cycle and the permanent campaign threatens good government by shining too much light on the system. In essence, modern politicians are all public performance now.

More to the point, if Joe Biden weren't out running for president and courting the most destructive element of the American electorate, he might be in the Senate helping to lead our nation through one of the most treacherous moments in our long and proud history.

One more thing: Will the "General Betray Us" ad affect the election of the next president?

John Edwards never saw it.

Hillary and Obama ignored it.

But all three embraced it tacitly.

Does it matter?

Only if the war turns around. If the war continues to flounder a year from now, David Petraeus will be as despised as George Bush. The ever-present but lightly used Westmoreland comparisons this time around will be the unquestioned template a year from now--if the current direction fails. Therefore, a year from now (under the gloomy scenario) castigating the dirty dog general will have seemed the appropriate reaction.

However, if the war turns around (the biggest "if" there ever was), then perhaps the Democrats will pay a price with a few (but important) reasonable voters whose support will be up for grabs.

Note on Fox News Sunday: this unique program continues to be the best network Sunday morning talking-head show. Partly a result of the ideologically "balanced" team of news analyzers, and partly because of its conservative perspective on the issues, FNS consistently delves into topics of interest to me that all the other Sunday shows miss completely. Special kudos to Chris Wallace for his steady leadership.