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Friday, May 16, 2008

Barack Obama Veepstakes

Fresh off a two-part John McCain Veepstakes column (Part 1 and Part 2), it's now time to address the potential Vice-President spot for the likely Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.

Quick thoughts on the VP possibilities and traits: Picking a VP for Obama is difficult, as he would like a Washington outsider with executive experience, which almost always means a Governor. However, as Obama is someone with limited foreign policy experience, he would like someone with foreign policy or military experience, which almost always means a Senator. He wants someone that appeals to his supporters and Clinton supporters. He wants someone who pushes the issue of change and diversity, but he also doesn't want anyone but a white male, as it could be too much aesthetic change for the electorate to handle. Geography isn't as much of a priority as it used to be (Gore and Edwards didn't carry their own states, Lieberman was from predictably blue Connecticut), but should still be considered so the south and midwest is not alienated from down ticket races. Basically, Obama wants someone that doesn't exist.

So the task will be... who comes closest?

Considerations that did not make the list: Ted Strickland (would not accept), Phil Breseden (too old), Tim Kaine (pro-life), Ed Rendell (age, probably done with running for office), John Edwards (been there, done that), Claire McCaskill (green, vacant Senate seat), Evan Bayh (too close to Clinton, Presidential aspirations in 2012 or 2016), Mark Warner (wants John Warner's Senate seat).

10. Wesley Clark (Former Supreme Commander NATO Allied Forces, Illinois)
Both parties love him, he would be an incredibly capable advisor in military policy for the green Obama, he is practically attack proof from the Republican propaganda machine, and he’s fluent in four languages (which is about four more than our current President). He also has roots in the Midwest, making an Obama-Clark ticket as competitive across the country as the Democrats have had since the Clinton elections. It would be an added delight for Democrats to see Clark run circles around the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee on foreign policy, especially if it's a governor like most people expect.

Of course, he's not a perfect candidate. Clark simply has no realistic experiences in running for office. His late and short run in 2004 was a blip on the radar. You'd have to go back to Eisenhower in '52 to find a candidate with less political experience on a major ticket (apologies to the late Admiral Stockdale).

9. Russ Feingold (Senator, Wisconsin)
No candidate has a better voting track record in the Democratic Party. Senator Feingold is the only Senator to have voted against the USA Patriot Act. (When he cast that vote, some thought his career was over. This is the epitome of a Feingold stance; sticking up for what he thinks is right instead of what is best for his politics.) He was one of 23 Senators to vote against giving President Bush permission to use force in Iraq. Now, of course, many Senators who supported it are wishing they could retroactively change their vote.

The problem is, his greatest strengths as a Democrat would really hurt his chances on a general election ticket. He is probably the most liberal and progressive Senator in the chamber. He is liberal on campaign finance reform, fair trade policies, allowing gays to marry, health care reform, conservation and environmental protection, a multilateral foreign policy, Social Security, abolishing the death penalty, and eliminating wasteful spending. He could scare the heck out of moderates, who will be fought over more than ever in a McCain vs. Obama election. Because of this, the Dems probably don't risk putting up Feingold.

8. Jeremiah Wright (Pastor, Illinois)
Just kidding.

8. Joe Biden (Senator, Delaware)
Joe Biden could be a very valuable Vice-President. I can see a President making Biden the point-man on Iraq. No Democrat is more knowledgeable on the situation and equipped to deal with it. Biden should accept an offer from Obama if propositioned, as this election is Biden's last whiff of the White House.

Senator Biden has been a harsh critic of the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. Biden chairs the Senate Foreign Relations committee and is one of the longest tenured Senators, serving in the upper chamber since he was 30 years old. Of course, that might be his biggest weakness, as well. Obama has spoken so much about leaving behind the politics of the last generation and looking towards the future. Biden is an insider and Biden is a dinosaur in the Senate. It doesn't mold too well with Obama's rhetoric. Regardless, I consider Biden and Bill Richardson as the leading candidates for Secretary of State.

7. Kathleen Sebelius (Governor, Kansas)There are three realistic women that Obama could take if he wants to attempt to hold support of women after he officially defeats Clinton. Missouri junior Senator Claire McCaskill is one, but her lack of experience (elected to Senate in the last midterm) in foreign policy or military affairs would really worry the country that there are two newbies on the ballot together. Plus, McCaskill, in a victory, would have to vacate her Senate seat, just like Obama, meaning two Democratic Senators are lost in the opening months of Obama's first term. Therefore, Sebelius is a wiser choice.

Like McCaskill, Sebelius is a popular female figure from a red 2004 state. Democrats think highly enough of Sebelius that they allowed her to give the response to President Bush's final State of the Union last January. If she's on the ticket, the country would see that Obama is indeed reaching out to 50 states, rather than the "Hold the 2004 states and win one more (Ohio/Florida)."

But will the Democrats really risk running a black man and white woman in the same election unless forced into it? Methinks not.

6. Michael Easley (Governor, North Carolina)
Easley brings to the table much of what is desired for Obama's Vice-President. He balances Obama's geography, he has executive experience, and it's an unofficial olive branch to Clinton's supporters, as Governor Easley was firmly in her camp. Additionally, between Obama's African-American support and Easley's governorship, these two could do what John Kerry and John Edwards couldn't do in 2004... win North Carolina.

Then again, Obama didn't mold himself into a progressive candidate just to bring a centrist along as his #2. That is not the direction to which the Democratic Party wants to go after an Obama Administration. Additionally, it remains to be seen if Clinton's supporters (Easley, Bayh, etc.) can passionately and persuasively campaign for the man who vanquished her. Finally, Easley's complete lack of national or foreign policy experience (he's been a Governor and state Attorney General) would bring little gravitas to the ticket.

Part 2 next week some time. Five names left. Feel free to leave your predictions.


Gary said...

5. Dodd
4. Richardson
3. Webb
2. Nelson
1. Clinton

Jonathan said...

5. Durbin
4. Webb
3. Clinton
2. Napolitano
1. Richardson

The Dude said...

5.Ford, Jr.
4.Webb,(Connecticut Edition preferred)

Honorable Mention
Giambi's expiring contract, Sharrod Brown, The Ghost Tom Joad,
David Stern

Buzz said...

5. Richardson
4. Webb
3. Bloomberg
2. Clinton
1. Napolitano

Leather D said...

5. Clinton - Pro: attempts to unify the party; Cons: energizes Republicans, destroys Obama's message, no military experience, Bill
4. Bloomberg - Pros: executive experience, echos Obama's message; cons: short jewish New Yorker; no military background
3. Hagel - Pros: military knowledge, echos Obama's message; might put NE and/or KS in play cons: too conservative for the left wing; too republican for the left wing; too much Senate experience
2. Richardson - Pros: the rare governor with foreign policy experience, swings NM, hispanic; Cons: hispanic, is a stick in the eye to Clinton folks
1. Webb - Pros: military experience, former Republican, swings VA, echos Obama's message; Cons: unclear interest, uneven campaigner

Robert L. said...

5. Hagel
4. Dodd
3. Richardson
2. Clinton
1. IC!!

Reed said...

3. Lincoln Chafee
2. Brian Schweitzer
1. Bill Richardson

Reed said...

4. Brown
5. Seibelius

Reed said...

5. Not Seibelius, Napolitano

Reed said...

5. Janet Napolitano
4. Lincoln Chafee
3. Bill Richardson
2. Brian Schweitzer
1. Joe Manchin

Robert said...

Russ Feingold is not from Ohio, he's from Wisconsin. He's a junior Senator, not a Governor. You alreadly ruled out Strickland, why put his credentials in. HAHA.

Robert said...

Also, you're right, Feingold was the only person to vote nay under the USA Patriot Act, BUT there was another Senator who did not even vote, Mary Landrieu.

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