OK, OK, we'll play the parlor game
I admit it. I'm unable to resist the temptation to play the "Who's going to be V.P.?" game, fruitless as it is.
The pundocracy has launched into this due to HRC's maddening little drama over Tuesday and Wednesday, igniting a frenzy of speculation over does she or doesn't she (want to be V.P.), and will he or won't he (beat her about the head and shoulders... I keed, I keed.)
Fair enough. But now it appears that Clinton has regained her senses after the gang intervention and things have gotten a bit closer to real.
So I'll throw it out there.
Who should Obama pick for V.P?
And... who WILL he pick?
Myself? Glad you asked. I really like former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and would love to see him be Obama's pick. I always have, as long-time readers will recall when I enthused about him during his all-too-brief run at the Dem nomination. (seems like ancient history.)
Pros: A dream candidate. Youthful, vigorous, a great book-end for Obama. Did incredibly well in getting elected in largely red Virginia and touts a bi-partisan approach to politics. Warner has background as mega-successful businessman and entrepeneur having founded the company that became Nextel. He's magnetic and a fantastic stump-speecher (tm).
Traditional geographic/ethnic justification: He's from Virginia, considered a purple state. Though not as juicy as OH, PA, and FL, a big "get".
Will he be picked? I'd give him a 30% chance.
My other fave is from Virginia as well, Sen. Jim Webb.
Pros: No-nonsense, smart, straight talking. Newly elected, has gotten a lot of coverage, but still a fresh "new" face consistent with the change theme.
Conventional wisdom: Webb is a military man, through and through, attending the Naval Academy and graduating first in his class from Marine Corps Officers' Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. He served in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He then went on to serve on the staff of the Secretary of the Navy. Oh, and he also speaks Vietnamese and was embedded as a journalist with the military in Afghanistan. (Hell, just go read his remarkable bio here.)
He graduated from Georgetown Law in 1975 and served as counsel to the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs. His accomplishments go on and on, including having authored 8 books, six of them best-sellers including one examining the history and sociology of the Scotch-Irish in America. This would be a true asset as the Scotch-Irish are the predominate cultural group of the swath of the Applachian region that Obama did so poorly in. He's also been a screen-writer and producer in Hollywood and has won an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of Marines in Beirut. (to say Webb is an over-achiever would be an under-statement.)
In the Senate, Webb has focused on matters of national security and would be an excellent compliment to bolster both Obama's foreign policy and military credibility.
And the guy is telegenic, incredibly articulate, and .... he's from Virginia.
Then to skim through some of the most often mentioned:
Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Like Warner, lauded for being a Dem who won in a red state... and she also possesses two X chromosomes, which seems to be hot politically these days. Con: If Obama named another woman, it's assumed that Clinton's supporters would convulse with rage. I'm not sure this would actually happen, as I believe most were supportive of Clinton as a woman first, then her policy positions, but not so much just because she was Hillary Clinton. I think any woman would be supported.... even by the Hillary brigade.
Chances? I really don't know.
Another attempt to bolster Obama's militaristic appeal is former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. This I'm not too hot on. Nunn is the consumate expert on foreign affairs and military, in particular in arms control, and area both he and Obama share an interest in. Some say Nunn would also provide some age to the ticket, some sense of experience. I feel he looks rather odd next to Obama.
Nunn's Georgia/southern roots are assumed to be a plus to Obama in the general, though I'm not so sure of that either. I think Obama could do well there without Nunn. Nunn is also considered a statesman of sorts in that he's not overtly partisan, is respected by both sides of the aisle, and would also be content to stay out of the spotlight in an Obama administration.
The fact that Nunn is a long time board member of General Electric, an enormous defense contractor, is a bit troubling.
Then there's the idea that Obama should improve his chances in the key battleground state of Ohio and pick it's governor, Ted Strickland, another figure who's achieved success in a red leaning state.
I don't know enough about Strickland to venture an opinion, but the fact he's a relative unknown gives me pause, though there are some who argue that an unknown is good for a ticket.
Chances? Judging from the fact that he makes nearly everyone's short list, fairly good.
Aiming for both the Hispanic vote and the belief that geography still matters (I'm not so sure), there's former candidate, former U.N. Ambassador, and current New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
Richardson has an impecable resume, and could be expected to help Obama with the Hispanic vote that went with Clinton in huge numbers. It's obvious that Obama needs to address this group if he hopes to do well.
Richardson appeals to many people, but I find him disturbingly inarticulate and rather sloppy on stage and in interviews. He's obviously a very brilliant man, but it doesn't come across in his appearances, and he seems to have a tendency to say things that could be taken the wrong way. Richardson might prove to be an easy target for Republicans in the effort to pounce on gaffes.
He's a very popular governor in his home state and would surely help swing it to Obama. New Mexico is part of Obama's alternate strategy to amass enough delegates to win even if he loses the handful of traditional must-win states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire, so this is a serious consideration.
Chances? Fairly good, I'd go as high as 40%, though I would be less than thrilled if he were picked.
Then there's the school of thought that holds that Obama should make a bold move and pick someone from the opposing party.
In this catagory the prime suspect is Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
Hagel does indeed have some attractive qualities, prime among them his military experience and credentials as a military expert in the Senate. And it's definitely a plus that Hagel was among the first, if not THE first Republican to openly condemn the Iraq invasion as a costly blunder.
He's well-spoken, filthy rich, and was the former CEO and is part owner of one of the largest electronic voting machine companies, which can't be bad, though it would be a loss to the Republicans.
Hagel would be a plus in the attempt to boost Obama's military cred, but there's no apparent geographic benefit, if you subscribe to that.
Chances? Slim, though it wouldn't be a bad choice.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also been mentioned as a mixed party ticket choice, but it's dubious that he'd entertain the notion of being vice president.
Chances? About nil.
And last, but certainly far from least, Sen. Hillary Clinton.
You may have heard of her.
At one point, I think most Dems and Obama supporters were actually excited at the prospect of an Obama/Clinton ticket. But as the interminable campaign ground on, and particularly when Clinton went into scorched earth, damn reality mode near the end, that happy thought largely evaporated as Clinton's choices, words, and actions steadily burned any good will to cinders.
Polls show a slight majority of Obama supporters would not want Hillary on the Obama ticket.
For a little over 24 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, the thought that Hillary was holding up Obama to force him to put her on the ticket rushed into the vacuum created by the effort to figure out just why in the wide, wide, world of sports Clinton did what she did Tuesday night.
A muscle move to force herself onto the ticket was the best they could come up with.
It appears this isn't the case, and that short 48 hours dramatically changed the dynamics and damaged, perhaps fatally, any chance Obama would pick her as running mate.
Also bandied about was speculation that Obama couldn't pick her due to problems with vetting Bill's post-presidential activities, surmising that the Clinton's would never agree to willingly reveal all of the donors to Bill's library and various foundations. All of this amounted to political gossip and backbiting with no evidence to back it up, but there may be some truth to it.
It was also conventional wisdom by the frenzied pundits, encouraged by the Clinton campaign, that Hillary held the keys to 18 million voters, as if each of them would do nothing without her command.
This was one big scary block of voters, voters Obama desperately needs. So the pundits got all sweaty with speculation about the power plays going on behind the scenes and with psychoanalysing the Clintons and their thoughts and motives.
An entire day and countless hours were spent by various pundits engaging in nothing more than the equivelent of high school gossip about the two most popular kids in class. It was pretty shabby.
While Clinton's clout and control over the uneducated, blue collar, and female vote, particularly the over 65 bunch is sorely overstated in my opinion, it's true that she does have sway over a large number of votes and could be extremely beneficial to Obama.
But will she hold him up and ransom them? All the pundits, assuming the worst of the Clintons, seemed to assume so. I'm not so sure. I think Clinton will, in the end, voluntarily swing her supporters to Obama and do what she can to unite the party, and not demand or expect anything in return.
If that's the case, I do feel that in return, she should be offered a position of importance in the administration, IF she wants it. But I'm afraid V.P. just isn't going to work. But anything is possible, as we've seen.
Chances at V.P.? Before the polls closed Tues: 50-60%, Now: 10%, if that.
That's how I see it.
If you'd like to play along at home, tell us your opinion on the matter.
At least tell us if you think Hillary will or will not be offered V.P. and why.