Friday, August 22, 2008
Vice President Who??
With the nominations for the Democrat and Republican presidential sweepstakes all but a done deal, there's been a certain amount of speculation of who Barack Hussein Obama and John McCain will pick as running mates.
Does it really matter? And if so, how much?
Normally, a vice presidential candidate is chosen with several factors in mind; to heal a breach in the party, to 'balance' the ticket ideologically or geographically, to address the concerns of a select group of influential voters, to try and capture the electoral votes of a state or region, or to balance out a perceived weakness in a candidate's resume or experience.
A good example of the last one was the Bush-Cheney ticket, teaming up a presidential candidate with a limited resume on foreign policy and international relations with a man who had extensive experience in both areas.
So, who's likely to be on the list, in my view?
Let's take Obama first.
With his poll numbers tanking, The Chosen One has a number of areas where he's going to need an assist.
His National Security and military cred is severely lacking, and Joe Biden or Wesley Clark might be a decent attempt to shore up that particular weakness..Jim Webb, senator from Virginia, decorated Vietnam veteran and an ex-Secretary of the Navy under Reagan would probably have helped Obama more, except like a great many other prominent Donkeys he chose to opt out.
The biggest problem with Biden from Obama's standpoint is Biden's ego and his tendency to shoot himself in the foot with his own mouth. The Chosen One not only would have difficulty sharing the stage with Biden, but there are a whole slew of statements out of Biden's own mouth deriding Obama for his lack of resume and praising John McCain! If Biden gets the nod, we can look forward to some absolutely side splitting ads from the GOP campaign.Another problem with Biden is the fact that Delaware's three electoral votes are already in the bag for the Democrats..and Biden adds nothing there.However, given the Chosen One's need for foreign policy back up, Biden has a decent shot.
Tim Kaine and Mark Warner from Virginia are two other names that have come up, for the same reason..they just might create the possibility of the Democrats carrying Virginia.Both are young, southern and personable...except Kaine is simply not the sharpest tool in the shed and Warner wants to take a shot at replacing a retiring GOP senator in a race he's likely to win. And at any rate, Warner is likely too moderate for Obama's taste.
The same is probably true of Evan Bayh of Indiana and Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas. Bayh comes from an old Indiana political dynasty and is popular there, but mostly because he's fairly conservative for a Democrat. Hitching himself to Obama wouldn't do much for him at home, and he lacks the attack dog persona the One is going to need to get some traction between now and November.Edwards is the chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee and a nine-term very conservative Democrat representing a GOP-leaning Texas district that includes President Bush's ranch in Crawford. He's pretty much an unknown which likely suits Obama's ego, but he doesn't bring much to the table politically.
Could Obama pick a woman? The two possibilities are Hillary (a real remote possibility) and Kansas governor Karen Sibelius.
There no question that in terms of sheer politics, Hillary helps Obama the most. It's estimated that at least 25% of her supporters are not at all enamored of the Chosen One, and let's face it..she did win the popular vote and only lost because a relatively small number of superdelegates broke for Obama for obvious reasons.
I call it remote because there's little love lost between the two and because it would suit Hillary much better to see Obama go down the tubes in `08, paving the way for her to pick up the pieces and run in 2012.Not only that, but Obama caving in to the Clintons would pretty much infuriate the nutroots on the extreme Left of the party.
Sibelius is another matter. Politically, she's well to the left of Hillary and to someone like Obama who thinks in terms of group entitlement she might seem like the person to bring Hillary's supporters back onto the plantation because of her gender.Politically, she brings nothing else to the table, but Obama may figure that being a woman is plenty.
Another area Obama is likely to need help with is with Hispanics. The black-brown divide in America is by no means a myth, particularly in a political party where identity politics is the name of the game. Obama has lost the Hispanic vote in every state in the primaries where that vote has been a factor by at least 2 to 1.
Someone like Bill Richardson could help him here. Aside from his being Hispanic and a bi-lingual campaigner, Richardson also has the advantage of not being particularly bright an thus unlikely to upstage Barack Obama. Plus, he could possibly tip New Mexico to the Democrats...only 5 electoral votes, but it could end up being important. Bush won the state in 2004 by a razor thin margin.
If I had to bet, I'd say Biden with Sibelius or Edwards as dark horse picks.
McCain has weaknesses of a different sort.
For one thing, his age almost mandates that he will be a one term president, and that his vice presidential pick assumes more than the usual importance.
Originally, his candidacy seemed to alienate two key GOP constituencies, ideological conservatives and evangelicals. In both cases, McCain has made significant strides in gathering these groups in, especially the evangelicals - The Faith Forum at Saddleback Church helped him a great deal with the evangelicals and pro life groups while the Russian invasion of Georgia and his response to it reminded conservatives of his national security credentials. Both groups seem to be coalescing around McCain as Obama's real nature becomes evident.
McCain doesn't have the motivation Obama does to see that someone doesn't outshine him...as a matter of fact, a strong vice presidential candidate could eliminate any remaining angst about his age and shore up the gains he's already made.
Tim Pawlenty is a popular governor of Minnesota, a state that has been trending more and more Republican each election. He's relatively conservative, young (48), and a long time McCain booster. In a close election, Minnesota's 10 electoral votes could make the difference between victory and defeat.
Another running mate that could help McCain would be Rudy Giuliani, especially if McCain is not worried about a conservative defection. Rudy is smart, has experience on the national scene, impeccable national security credentials and a history of accomplishment in every position he's held. His management expertise in turning the relatively bankrupt city of New York around could be helpful to a candidate who admits economics isn't his strong point.He's a great speaker (Giuliani will be the keynote speaker at the GOP convention) and 'retail' campaigner and debater even if he's a lousy campaign strategist, will help McCain with the Jewish vote and actually brings New York and New Jersey into play. His drawbacks include his complicated personal life, an unfortunate tendency to mention 9/11 far too often and his perceived (if misrepresented) position on abortion,.
Another wild card McCain pick for vice president would be his long time friend, Joe Lieberman. Lieberman is that rare commodity, a relatively sensible liberal with firm views on national security. Because of that, he was run out of the Democratic party, but remains a symbol to Democrats, especially older ones who are uneasy with the far Left direction the party has taken. Like Giuliani, Lieberman has experience on the national stage, enjoys a fair amount of respect nationally and could symbolize the bi-partisan consensus McCain appears to be seeking. Lieberman is also speaking at the GOP convention in support of his friend McCain in spite of threats from the DNC to strip him of his committee chairmanship, a courageous act that undoubtedly appeals to McCain.
Choosing Lieberman might anger a fair amount of conservatives, but again, McCain may very well be figuring that enough of them will end up holding their noses and pulling the lever for him in November that it isn't a significant downside.
Another interesting possibility for McCain would Tom Ridge, the well liked ex-governor of Pennsylvania. Like McCain, Ridge is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. He's also a fiscal conservative with a solid track record of astute financial management. His career in public service includes a stint as an Assistant District Attorney, six terms in Congress, and two terms as a popular Republican governor in Pennsylvania, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000. He was also the head of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11.
Ridge won re-election as governor by better than 57%, and naming him to the ticket definitely puts Pennsylvania in play for the GOP. And Pennsylvania is not a state Barack Obama did particularly well in...even now, the polls only show him ahead by 3-5 points. Ridge's main drawbacks are his association with the Bush Administration and his pro-choice position on abortion, something Ridge could probably finesse if he had to.
Two other names on McCain's short list are Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, both of whom are real possibilities.
Eric Cantor not only comes from Virginia, but he's a popular congressman from the Richmond area, a key to holding the state for the GOP this November. He was Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare until 2006 when the Democrats took over. He has also served on the House Financial Services Committee and on the House International Relations Committee and the very powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Since his second term, he has served as chief deputy Republican whip, the highest appointed position in the Republican caucus.
Aside from his economic and national security credentials, Cantor is a religious Jew and could be depended on to make inroads into the Jewish and pro-Israel vote,a key constituency in November that's already a bit leery of Obama and with good cause. A five point change in favor of the GOP could mean a great deal in places like Ohio, Michigan and Florida.
Sarah Palin, is an impressive and charismatic speaker who knows a lot about a key issue in this campaign..energy.Either she or New Mexico Republican Heather Wilson would make dogmeat out of anyone Obama is likely to select in a debate.
Mitt Romney? I just don't think so. Very high negatives and not enough clout when it comes to bringing in electoral votes, but a distinct possibility for Treasury.
Over all, I'd have to give the edge to Ridge or Pawlenty, with Palin, Lieberman an Cantor as strong dark horses.
Posted by Freedom Fighter at 4:59 PM