This year’s electoral process is almost at the point where candidates should start talking about choosing running mates. The post of vice-president is an endless source of humor and intrigue, of course. One of its previous incumbents described it as “not worth a bucket of warm spit,” but, being a Texan, he did not in fact say “spit.” Other quotations on the subject range from caustic to ghoulish.
But anyway, there seem to be two schools of thought, closely paralleling theories about dating and marriage: opposites attract, or birds of a feather flock together. The best argument for the latter position is that the voters have chosen a candidate with a particular set of beliefs, proposals, and characteristics. If that candidate should happen to leave office before the end of his term for any reason, those voters are entitled to someone as similar as possible to what they voted for in the first place. This was the mindset that brought us the Nixon-Agnew ticket.
The best argument for the “opposites attract” position is, of course, the purely tactical one of “ticket-balancing” to attract the largest number of voters and the largest quantity of popular support. From the voters’ point of view, it posits that what they are entitled to is at least somebody minimally offensive on the ticket in one spot or the other.
It seems obvious that McCain needs somebody young and healthy. But nature has a nasty sense of humor, and young, healthy people die all the time, from one or another cause. McCain, judging from the hardships of his earlier life, may be a hard man to kill. So what he may need, from a purely political point of view, is a party regular, or a religious conservative. Huckabee, say. Who has the added advantage of seeming a lot more mellow than McCain.
From that same ghoulish perspective, Obama may need somebody who does not travel with him, and who wears Kevlar(tm) underwear. But from a more logical political standpoint, he needs somebody white and politically seasoned, preferably a Southerner. Edwards comes immediately to mind, but chances are he’s not interesting in running for the second spot twice.
In the unlikely but still not impossible event that Clinton is the Democratic candidate, her obvious choice is Obama, who could use the seasoning for a later run. He has plenty of time, after all. If he declines, her next best bet is a current or former governor, preferably Southern. Mark Warner of Virginia, for instance, who has the added advantages of being Catholic, anti-abortion and anti-death-penalty.
Obama and McCain might both be well-advised to consider women, preferably governors. Secretary of State Condi Rice’s name turns up in these discussions as a possible running mate for McCain, but one suspects she would not be interested. Senator Liddy Dole tried a run earlier, but might still be interested. Sarah Palin of Alaska, who is a Republican and one of the youngest female governors ever, has a lot to recommend her. The list of current Democratic female governors is too long to insert here, but take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_state_governors_in_the_United_States for
the true word on the subject. Obama might also want to consider Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, for her possible appeal to the white ethnic vote.
Any other bright ideas out there?