Thursday, June 03, 2004

Kerry's List: The topic on Opinion Duel this week has been Kerry's VP candidate list. (It's been all talk over who, by the way, and no talk about when. I'm of the opinion that Kerry should make his pick sooner. He needs the boost, for various reasons that we can discuss, if you're interested.)

Some names kicking around: Gephardt, Sam Nunn, Tom Vilsack. Yawn city. Granted Mike Crowley and John J. Miller, Opinion Duel's debaters for this subject, make a couple of interesting points as to why these men are safe picks. Says Miller:

Another rule of veep selection is Do No Harm. In other words, don't pick someone who will put a drag the campaign . . . Nobody fulfills this requirement better than Gephardt.
If Kerry loses — and especially if it's a close race — his veep candidate immediately becomes a frontrunner for the next Democratic nomination. This opportunity to become the un-Hillary would apply only to up-and-comers like Edwards, Locke, Richardson, or Vilsack. I can think of three guys who might run with Kerry this year but won't pose a threat in four years: Gephardt, Glenn, and Nunn. Kerry will feel some pressure to keep the Clintonites smiling and choose from this list, or one similar to it.
Thus, says Miller, it should be Gephardt.

I know that there are people in the Kerry campaign paid big bucks to think this way. But frankly this is loser thinking, and Kerry should avoid it. Gephardt makes the Dem ticket a couple of white guys who are squishy about abortion. Both voted for the war; one voted for the $87 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq, and the other famously voted both for and against it; both voted for the Patriot act.

Kerry needs to make a bold pick instead. It should be a woman or a black (or minority), or both. Miller mentions the Asian-American Washington governor Gary Locke. That's a start. Do something, anything, to make the Democrat ticket look like Democrats. I'm not really a proponent of the idea that any institution should "look like America"; but when you come down to it, that's the Democrats' brand, for god's sake, their famous slogan. If the voters want a flaky boomer in the oval office with a connected-out-the-wazoo beltway insider for vice president cum eminence grise, let them vote for Bush/Cheney.

Obviously, I don't have the ability to vet candidates the way a campaign can, but here's a list of names, just for starters: Locke, Harold Ford, Janet Napolitano, Maria Cantwell. Get some new blood into the party. Yes, we all remember the Geraldine Ferraro debacle, but the top of that ticket was as much of a problem as the veep. The Democrats have spent the past 20 years gun shy of bold VP choices because a paleoliberal who pledged to raise taxes, and just happened to have a controversial and slightly goofy broad as a running mate, got torpedoed by the USS Reagan. Move on, godammit, or the GOP will have the first female VP and/or president. How will that look for the party that carries the mantle of women's rights?

1 comment:

Razor said...

Well, I think you're right that the Dems have to pick someone that will give Kerry a boost, and soon, whilst Bush is distracted (insert joke here). Clearly, that's all the V.P. is for - a bump in the polls, and someone for the Pres to put his arm around or push away, depending on which most politically expedient to do.

For Kerry, he could certainly use someone who is his photo-negative. All Gephardt brings is a bit of Iowan common sense; but hardly anyone votes with the expectation that the V.P. will do anything, so why bother with Geppy?

You're also right that the Veep nominee is the presumptive candidate four years later. Edwards is probably strong enough to go it alone (plus he gets to position himself as something different than Kerry should Kerry plunge in the ratings), so giving the nod to a bit of a fringe, yet colorful (in all aspects) sidekick throws you enormous dividends. Plus, it gives people something to talk about other than Iraq or gas prices (a female and/or minority candidate would by itself, produce scores of articles and "new awareness").