Thursday, August 14, 2008

VP's

It doesn't seem possible to turn on the news anymore without hearing about the Veep sweepstakes.

I can't seem to remember the vice presidential choice holding this much importance or interest in my lifetime. The first presidential election in my liftetime, granted, I was three, was lost for Michael Dukakis long before he chose Lloyd Bentsen to be his running mate. Regardless, Bentsen didn't help Dukakis with the electoral map--they didn't win Bentsen's home state (also the home state of Republican nominee George H.W. Bush).

In 1992, Clinton's choice of Al Gore was a grand slam for Democratic politics. The two southerners brought executive and legislative experience to the table, a well-rounded team. Same can be said for the 1996 election.

George H.W. Bush's vice presidential pick was a disaster in many ways, the least of which was the electoral map in 1992.

The 1996 Republican ticket was solidly conservative before the addition of Kemp. Dole knew what he was doing in choosing Kemp, despite the outcome. Kemp brought some youth (twelve years younger than Bob Dole), good looks, and electoral support.

For all the 2000 election was, I can't remember discussion prior to Gore picking Lieberman. Looking back it was a mistake--every Democrat must think so. Lieberman may have helped somewhat in New England, but really, it wasn't a grand slam the way Clinton picking Gore had been. On the flip side, George W. Bush picking Dick Cheney mattered in ways we probably haven't even learned of yet. Of course in terms of electoral math, it probably didn't matter that much since Wyoming would have gone to Bush anyway. However, Cheney has changed the face of the Vice President's office, mostly not for the better.

The addition of Edwards to the Democratic ticket in 2004 didn't help Kerry in the South. The choice of Edwards wasn't exactly a shocker to those who paid any attention in the primaries. In fact, the three top tier candidates ended up where they should for the election (Kerry as the nominee, Edwards as the running mate, and Dean as the DNC chairman). You can certainly say it wasn't Edwards that lost the Democrats the race in 2004.

Now we're to the 2008 election and all we hear about is who John McCain and Barack Obama will pick. Rumors for Obama: Bayh, Biden, Kaine, Sebelius, Daschle, Clinton, Richardson, and McCaskill. Rumors for McCain: Romney, Lieberman, Graham, Crist, Palin, Ridge, and Jindal.

Most Democrats as well as much of the Republican Party shutter at the thought of a McCain/Lieberman ticket. Joe Lieberman isn't right for America. He's like a cockroach. This coming from a former Lieberman supporter and die hard fan. Equally unsettling is the though of Lindsey Graham on the ticket. Neither will really help McCain with the base. Romney, maybe. Ridge, definitely. Crist, Palin, and Jindal would be interesting choices and would certainly bring a twist to the electoral map, but in all reality if McCain wants to win this election he's going to need a running mate who is both young (to make it less scary that the nominee is 72 years old), a life-long conservative (to help with the base), and strong on economics (but not someone who will call America a "nation of whiners").

I honestly believe that is would be beneath the Clintons for Hillary to accept the vice presidency. Along those lines, I've always thought for a foreign policy weak candidate like Obama a guy like Wes Clark would be a great running mate, but due to his support and loyalty for the Clintons, I doubt General Clark would accept the veep nomination. Richardson, maybe. His loyalty to the Clintons doesn't much look like loyalty anymore. Edwards is out of the question now and I seriously have my doubts about the possibility of McCaskill. Sebelius is a superstar in similar ways to Obama for the party, but she lacks the same strengths Obama does. Kaine seemed to be the choice until Warner was named as keynote--even the least political-savvy person can see there's no need for them both to continue dominance in Virginia.

So who does that leave? The Senators. Dodd, Biden and Bayh remain contenders. Dodd isn't talked about much, but if Obama wants some sort of redemption for his awful FISA vote, Dodd would help. Dodd also has a little more foreign policy experience than Obama, though he wouldn't bring much to the table in terms of electoral math. He may strengthen Dems chances in the places that went to Clinton in the primaries. Bayh's chances are a little higher than Dodd's, but brings an equal amount to the table. I'm not a fan of his, so I can't speak to his strengths as much as I could his weaknesses.

I'm not discounting the other options, I really have no idea who Obama will choose. I will say this, the two possibilities that excite me are former Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Joe Biden. Biden was my choice when the primaries began what seems like centuries ago. Once Biden and Dodd were out of the running, I reluctantly joined the Clinton camp. Since Clinton left the race I've never found myself all that excited about the November vote. However, if either of these men were on the ticket, I could get excited again.

Markos isn't ignoring the possibility of Daschle and Tom Daschle himself isn't saying much other than he isn't "expecting" to be on the ticket with Obama. I always supported the idea of a Daschle run given how big of a fan I was before Looney Tune John Thune defeated him and he left the Senate. Is it a possibility? In an election year that has seen as many twists and turns as this one, I'm not counting him out.

That said, I can't say emphatically enough how excited and supportive I would be of a ticket that included Senator Joe Biden. I know he has the tendency to put his foot in his mouth. I know he is a long-time Washington insider. I know he has his faults. I also know that there is no sitting senator with more foreign policy experience than Biden. He would solidify an Obama presidency and perhaps secure the support of Democrats that haven't been 100% in love with Obama since Clinton left the race.

Chris Cillizza makes the case for Biden and you can be sure I'll make the case as well before the convention rolls around.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The corollary of Sebelius' "weaknesses" being the same as Obama's is that she reinforces his strengths. There might be other Democratic VP contenders who would better send a message of sharp contrast to the GOP's drunken-sailor approach to public finances, environmental irresponsibility, dogmatic social conservatism, and scorched-earth politics. However, with the possible exception of your next-door neighbour Brian Schweitzer, none spring immediately to mind.

Jared said...

Interesting thoughts, Tara.

Democrats:
Dodd is DOA now with the Country Wide scandle, I think. Choosing Warner or Kaine and making a run at Virginia would be an ingenious strategy another year but this one with McCain's Navy pedigree, but it still could work. There is just no guarantee. Wes Clark would have been a good choice, loyalties aside, until Obama had to through him under the bus for his recent attacks on McCain's military record. If he choses Richardson, Republicans can celebrate because that man has an uncanny ability to make himself look as stupid as possible. Candidates that give me cause for concern are McCaskill, Biden, Sebelius, Bayh, Daschle. In choosing any woman other than Clinton, there is always the risk of irking the femanist Clinton loyalists, but if McCaskill can help carry Missouri, the race is over. A boring, competent white guy from a rust belt state is probably a wise choice (a la Bayh) and would guarantee a popular vote victory, but does he cause Ohio or some other state to flip? I guess that is the question. Still, Bayh is probably the safest choice. Obama severly underpreforms with Catholics, could Biden help there? Daschle is a decent pick too, though it is hard to see what he delievers.

Republican:
Lieberman would be a monumentally stupid move, which is why I wouldn't put it past McCain to do it. Holy Toledo, I shutter to think of what would happen. As a close friend of McCain's I am certain Ridge (PA appeal, national security credentials) would be the nominee, but he is prochoice in a party where prolife is a litmus test for most people, which I think has to doom Lieberman as well. Pawlenty and Christ are strategic choices (though McCain seems to be polling fine in Florida without Christ now) that do nothing to animate a deflated base. Romney is the least risky pick, despite Huckabee and Co.'s solemn vow to derail that idea. There always is the Mormon thing and that is a concern, but the type of biggots who cant vote for someone based off their religion probably have a hard time pulling the lever for a black guy too. Speaking of Huckabee...no one's talking about him and that's very good news. Palin and Jindal are Hail Mary's. If McCain were down 10 pts now, they would have to garner serious consideration, but RCP has him only down 3 or so, so no need to do anything crazy (though personally I am quite fond of Palin over Jindal). Another name I've read about recently is Eric Cantor, a Jewish Congressman from Virginia which got the Club for Growth people excited. I like him too.

And to anonymous...Brian Schweitzer from Montana is a Democrat I could almost vote for, which means he has about 0 chance without changing some positions, to wit: guns, energy, etc.