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July 29, 2008

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Listened to my local NPR show with local republican/democratic "strategists" talking about this today and all I can say is the amount of mind numbingly stupid analysis coming out of the media is profound and almost absurd. The best part was when they admitted that *no one cares at all* who the VP choice is except the media, and that the VP choice "helps" the candidate with a few news cycles (or hurts for a few news cycles) but absent a really horrendous choice (presumably infidelity, brainwashing, communism, or gayness to run through a few historical examples) evaporates as an issue by the convention or the general election.

I did enjoy hearing the republican strategist explain that it was so easy for McCain to pick someone because he merely had to pick someone young and vigorous who could "plausibly be the standard bearer" for conservativism in the event of McCain kicking the bucket but also reassure moderates that McCain is no hard right conservative ideologue while also pleasing the social conservatives. Good luck with that one.

aimai

Listened to my local NPR show with local republican/democratic "strategists" talking about this today and all I can say is the amount of mind numbingly stupid analysis coming out of the media is profound and almost absurd. The best part was when they admitted that *no one cares at all* who the VP choice is except the media, and that the VP choice "helps" the candidate with a few news cycles (or hurts for a few news cycles) but absent a really horrendous choice (presumably infidelity, brainwashing, communism, or gayness to run through a few historical examples) evaporates as an issue by the convention or the general election.

I did enjoy hearing the republican strategist explain that it was so easy for McCain to pick someone because he merely had to pick someone young and vigorous who could "plausibly be the standard bearer" for conservativism in the event of McCain kicking the bucket but also reassure moderates that McCain is no hard right conservative ideologue while also pleasing the social conservatives. Good luck with that one.

aimai

Biden may have the potential to be a liability during the campaign because he simply talks too much at times, leaving him very open to the dangers presented by the out-of-context quote machine. I dont' know as much about the other guys in that regard, but I know Biden's a gabber.

The reason Ambinder calls Kaine and Sebelius governing choices is because they (and Biden too) are incredibly boring campaigners. They would be good for the narrative, but they wouldn't actually give exciting speeches that energized people.

Biden, on the other, is a great campaigner, even if he won't generate an exciting media narrative.

Ambinder, in discussing "campaign choices" is adhering fairly specifically to actual skill at campaigning, not ability to generate positive media narratives.

I did enjoy hearing the republican strategist explain that it was so easy for McCain to pick someone because he merely had to pick someone young and vigorous who could "plausibly be the standard bearer" for conservativism in the event of McCain kicking the bucket but also reassure moderates that McCain is no hard right conservative ideologue while also pleasing the social conservatives. Good luck with that one.

i.e. Tim Pawlenty.

Biden, on the other, is a great campaigner,

is that why he consistently gets blown out of the water in the Dem primaries ?

Biden is a bad choice because he plays into the media/Republican narrative that Obama is weak on national security. He has other problems too, but that's the deal-breaker, or it should be anyway.

But doesn't pawlenty have falling bridge problems? He's going to look nice on paper but doesn't he actually look bad once you start saying things like "typical tax cutting republican--people die as bridges go down?" Or do I have him confused with someone else. They definitely proposed both pawlenty and crisp and I think those are the safe choices--they look nice a white, anyway, and young. But picking the guy who fits your criteria isn't the same as having that gambit work for you, in the end. I heard a funny quote from the mccain campaign--that they were looking to pick a guy and the standard was someone who would "first, do no harm." That sounded really bad, to me. Is that the best they can offer america?

aimai

But doesn't pawlenty have falling bridge problems? He's going to look nice on paper but doesn't he actually look bad once you start saying things like "typical tax cutting republican--people die as bridges go down?" Or do I have him confused with someone else. They definitely proposed both pawlenty and crisp and I think those are the safe choices--they look nice a white, anyway, and young. But picking the guy who fits your criteria isn't the same as having that gambit work for you, in the end. I heard a funny quote from the mccain campaign--that they were looking to pick a guy and the standard was someone who would "first, do no harm." That sounded really bad, to me. Is that the best they can offer america?

aimai

No one talking about Bayh? Screw you guys, Indiana is taking our ball and going home.

Seriously, though, I think Bayh would be a decent choice on the campaign trail being from a red state that Obama has a good shot at. (But as mentioned, how useful is that?) He's also got governing experience as, well, governor and his years in the Senate.

A big minus is that Mitch Daniels (a total hack IMO) is probably going to be reelected as IN gov and he'd appoint a Repub to the seat, should Obama/Bayh win. So is losing a Senate seat for a couple years worth getting a well-rounded VP?

I like Biden because he is the best attack dog to go up against McCain. In 2000 and 2004 Liebermann and Edwards lost handily to Cheny in the debates. I like the thought of Biden up against Romney or Pawlenty in the debate. Bayh would be the next best choice. I'm less sure of Kaine or Sebelius in that setting. I think that the VP pick doesn't really add that much to the overall electoral map. But a consistent attack dog with credibility in Biden would be useful. Plus, Biden did well in the Dem. primary debates. Rather than highlight Obama's foreign policy inexperience, he is a reassuring figure.

aimai -

he merely had to pick someone young and vigorous who could "plausibly be the standard bearer" for conservativism in the event of McCain kicking the bucket but also reassure moderates that McCain is no hard right conservative ideologue while also pleasing the social conservatives.

Did the person running the interview ask this so-called "Republican strategist" why this person that should be so easy for McCain to find didn't bother trying to run for the GOP nomination in the primary?

Seriously - if there was a guy like that out there he could have mopped the floor with all of the other guys in the field. If that guy existed, the GOP wouldn't have needed McCain in the first place.

So is losing a Senate seat for a couple years worth getting a well-rounded VP?

Not in my book, especially since in a state like Indiana (or Florida or Missouri) there's no guarantee that you'll get that seat back in a couple of years. In fact, it's not even likely in those states. Maybe if we're talking Chris Dodd in Connecticut, a strongly blue state with a Republican governor, then you can take that chance, but not in Indiana.

Incertus- I can't even think of someone they (I'm in Lugar territory) could run in 2yrs. I think the only reason IN has a Dem Senator is because Bayh is a popular guy personally and he did a good job as governor.

Venido- As mentioned above, Biden isn't good at knowing when to shut up. I'm not so sure that he's an asset in the campaign, just because the media is so prone to pouncing on any verbal misstep and blowing it out of proportion.

I really don't like any of the top 4. Bayh means the loss of a Senate seat. Biden is a loose cannon (can you imagine the viral email alone?). Sebelius might do, but even if she's a solid governor, she's a snoozer of a campaigner. And the mere thought of Kaine, a pro-life Catholic, gives a lot of progressives and feminists the heebie-jeebies. And from what I hear, he's only moderately popular in Virginia right now. So Kaine may not be enough to bring in that state and may peel off some of the progressive support Obama still needs.

I'm hoping against hope that someone solid is being quietly vetted and approved right now. I could settle for Sibelius, but a more able campaigner, like Brian Schweitzer, might still be a good choice. I guess I shouldn't read too much into Obama spending the Fourth of July in Montana, right?

Re: Short List

Kaine will be the VP. To understand why, you need to understand Obama, who is all about Obama, who is all about image and insecurity.

Bayh would make Obama look bad. Bayh has mastered the political system.

Biden would make Obama look questionable, despite all of his flaws.

Sebelius is risky politically because of the gender issue. But, more importantly, Obama understands too well at a personal level how difficult empowered women are to manage. He doesn’t want to deal with that at work too.

Obama will pick Kaine because he is a short and fat with bad hair. See the trips to the gym.

Just a prediction.

If Obama cared about having his vp help him with governing, he'd take Hillary. Who else could help him govern better than somebody who has spent years both in the White House and the Senate? Since he has strongly telegraphed he isn't taking Hillary, it's safe to assume he'd rather have somebody he's personally comfortable with who reinforces his outsider and change messages. Hence why Kaine and Sebelius are at the top of the shortlist.

Incertus- I can't even think of someone they (I'm in Lugar territory) could run in 2yrs. I think the only reason IN has a Dem Senator is because Bayh is a popular guy personally and he did a good job as governor.

I've never even been there except on a drive through once, so I didn't want to make that assumption, but I had a feeling that was the case. It's similar down here in Florida, though. We have a lot of good Representatives, but I don't know who's going to be the one to try the statewide jump. I haven't even heard whispers about who's going to try to take on Mel Martinez in 2010, much less Crist for the governorship.

Biden.

But as a native Delawarean I am biased.

Actually, BOB has some pretty good and succinct analysis up above.

is that why he consistently gets blown out of the water in the Dem primaries ?

He got blown out in this one because he had no money, and no media coverage, and never got any traction. What I meant, though, was that Biden gives a good speech, and is pretty good on TV (opinions vary on this, certainly, but that's my feeling). He's a lot swifter on going after Republicans than bores like Bayh, Sebelius, and Kaine, none of whom will actually deliver their home states.

Biden is a bad choice because he plays into the media/Republican narrative that Obama is weak on national security.

God, I hate this meme. No, you are playing into the media/Republican narrative that Obama is weak on national security by suggesting that if he chooses anyone with foreign policy experience, that shows he is weak on national security. This is ridiculous.

But, I have to say, the passage of time and the excruciating dullness of all these choices kind of makes me think Hillary(!) is the best choice, which I never thought I would say in early June. She's a tireless campaigner, it ought to soothe any remaining hard feelings about the primary, and she'd be useful for governance. There are certainly some serious negatives (#1: Bill), but if that's really the short list, it's deeply boring. And I'm definitely rooting for Biden out of those 4, although I guess Sebelius is okay. I really, really, don't care for Evan Bayh.

My half-serious suggestion: Obama should wittle it down to a short list who have all been vetted and are acceptable, and then let them all be nominated on the convention floor, and let there be a real floor fight to decide who the VP nominee will be. That would make for some excitement for whoever it ends up being, and the media would eat it up.

Larry Sabato published an interesting analysis of Tim Kaine today. In short, the upsides are very good, but the downside-particularly the aftermath in Virginia-would be very costly:

If Kaine is picked, it is very likely that a conservative Republican governor would replace him (Bolling, I think?). This right-wing governor would be at the helm during redistricting. He would be able to draw the districts in his favor, effectively wiping out all of the progress that VA Dems have made.

I don't think it's worth it, considering how valuable that state is (or can be) to the Electoral College.

God, I hate this meme. No, you are playing into the media/Republican narrative that Obama is weak on national security by suggesting that if he chooses anyone with foreign policy experience, that shows he is weak on national security. This is ridiculous.

John, that's ridiculous. At least with my scenario, I don't have to do a rhetorical backflip to make sense. A huge part of Obama's success as a primary candidate was his judgment on Iraq in 2002. If Clinton had voted against the Iraq war, Obama's not even running this year, so Obama's national security judgment is his strength, not something that needs to shored up by someone like Biden--who was wrong on Iraq, I might remind you.

"But, more importantly, Obama understands too well at a personal level how difficult empowered women are to manage."

Very succinct.

I'm surprised no one else is cheering the idea of Dodd.

Biden is the eternal candidate of the chattering classes. The vast majority of americans would say, and rightly, "biden, who?" the guy tells a good joke and is a good talker--but if he's famous for anything on the national stage its plagiarizing Neil Kinnock and also lying (though he makes a very funny story out of it) about being related to a coal minor. I saw him explain it away on Jon Stewart and he was really very funny, I'd love to have a drink with him. But his foreign policy credentials are entirely outside the interests or the grasp of the populace. So he doesn't "shore up" Obama's cred. When voters want reassurance, if they do, they simply want what american voters have always wanted--to know that their president (or his surrogates) would willingly strangle a communist baby in the oval office if it was necessary. That's it. That is what "military" or "foreign policy" credentials mean to american voters. And biden doesn't have those credentials. He is frequently very sensible, but that apparently doesn't impress voters. And he signed on to the hellish bankruptcy bill, too, so there is that strike against him.

But please, please, please don't let it be DLC, whiney centrist, appeasnik Evan Bayh.

aimai

Biden is the eternal candidate of the chattering classes. The vast majority of americans would say, and rightly, "biden, who?" the guy tells a good joke and is a good talker--but if he's famous for anything on the national stage its plagiarizing Neil Kinnock and also lying (though he makes a very funny story out of it) about being related to a coal minor. I saw him explain it away on Jon Stewart and he was really very funny, I'd love to have a drink with him. But his foreign policy credentials are entirely outside the interests or the grasp of the populace. So he doesn't "shore up" Obama's cred. When voters want reassurance, if they do, they simply want what american voters have always wanted--to know that their president (or his surrogates) would willingly strangle a communist baby in the oval office if it was necessary. That's it. That is what "military" or "foreign policy" credentials mean to american voters. And biden doesn't have those credentials. He is frequently very sensible, but that apparently doesn't impress voters. And he signed on to the hellish bankruptcy bill, too, so there is that strike against him.

But please, please, please don't let it be DLC, whiney centrist, appeasnik Evan Bayh.

aimai

I think Obama is gonna surprise with someone expected. We'll all slap our heads' "Of course!"

There are certainly some serious negatives (#1: Bill)

Bill is also #2, #3 and #4.

I think H.Clinton would be good for a cabinet post. That would allow to use her experience without burdening the campaign with the Clintons' negative image. Maybe Hillary could run under a false name in heavy disguise ;-).

I still think it's going to be Mark Warner.
He just plain makes sense next to Obama. He won't alienate women or spoil Obama's brand, he will help in VA and IN and he'll destroy Romney in their debate.

(Very) dark horse: Phil Bredesen

Do we really want the name "Evan Bayh" as the standard-bearer of the Party for the next 20 years? I know nothing about the guy, but that is a wussy name. Image matters in politics.

Obama-Bayh sounds like the site of a Club Med.

This right-wing governor would be at the helm during redistricting. He would be able to draw the districts in his favor, effectively wiping out all of the progress that VA Dems have made.

The Democrats control the state Senate, so the Republicans would not be able to do crazy anti-Democratic gerrymandering, in any event. Beyond that, Virginia elects a new governor in 2009, so there'll be another chance to elect a Democratic governor before redistricting, anyway.

John, that's ridiculous. At least with my scenario, I don't have to do a rhetorical backflip to make sense. A huge part of Obama's success as a primary candidate was his judgment on Iraq in 2002. If Clinton had voted against the Iraq war, Obama's not even running this year, so Obama's national security judgment is his strength, not something that needs to shored up by someone like Biden--who was wrong on Iraq, I might remind you.

But it's you who's saying that Biden is being picked to "shore up" Obama's national security credentials. Why can't he choose Biden because he's an experienced hand who's an excellent surrogate, especially on foreign policy, a subject which a lot of other running mate possibilities aren't very confident talking about, because he would be an experienced colleague for Obama once he's in office, and because he would be a qualified president if it came to that? You are the one who is characterizing a choice of Biden as solely about "shoring up Obama's foreign policy credentials," and thus you are the one who is playing into Republican memes.

But his foreign policy credentials are entirely outside the interests or the grasp of the populace. So he doesn't "shore up" Obama's cred. When voters want reassurance, if they do, they simply want what american voters have always wanted--to know that their president (or his surrogates) would willingly strangle a communist baby in the oval office if it was necessary. That's it. That is what "military" or "foreign policy" credentials mean to american voters. And biden doesn't have those credentials. He is frequently very sensible, but that apparently doesn't impress voters. And he signed on to the hellish bankruptcy bill, too, so there is that strike against him.

I think this is sort of right, but sort of wrong. What's good about Biden is that he's a Democrat who's actually confident about foreign policy, and thus is willing to go out and actually attack the Republicans on the subject. His experience, I agree, is mostly beside the point. But he would be a more effective foreign policy surrogate for Obama than just about anyone else I can think of (with Webb out of the running and Clark having a tin ear for politics). The issue is not that his experience shores up Obama's lack of experience, or, at least, that should not be the issue. Biden's strength is that he is by far the most effective foreign policy surrogate Obama could choose. I agree, though, that the bankruptcy bill is a serious strike against him. (And there are others - his tendency for gaffes will certainly do Obama no favors.)

But please, please, please don't let it be DLC, whiney centrist, appeasnik Evan Bayh.

Agreed.

I still think it's going to be Mark Warner.
He just plain makes sense next to Obama. He won't alienate women or spoil Obama's brand, he will help in VA and IN and he'll destroy Romney in their debate.

Mark Warner will not help in Indiana. He's also running for Senate, and has explicitly ruled out the possibility of running for vice president. I also have no idea why you think he would be particularly effective in a debate. Mark Warner was a great administrator, but he is not a particularly compelling public speaker. He won in 2001 because the public was disgusted with Jim Gilmore, and because of a well organized campaign, but not particularly because of his own great charisma. Romney is actually quite a good debater. I don't know about Warner's debating skills, but as a public speaker he's a total snooze (I know this from personal experience - he gave my college commencement address at UVA in 2002). He might be able to deliver Virginia, but I'm not sure that's enough of a benefit to justify throwing the Senate seat into jeopardy. Especially since Warner's presence further down the ticket is very likely to help Obama in Virginia even without being on the national ticket (and vice versa).

Anyway, as I said, all these four are kind of uninspiring. I really hope it's not Bayh.

Regrettably, Senator Biden would get entirely too much attention, of the wrong kind. Everyone giggles and/or cringes over his apparently well-deserved reputation for unpredictability, but hardly anyone ever thinks about why he behaves the way he does. It is because of his brain-tumor surgery years ago. He has all of the classic and universal signs of a right-brain injury. Why can this not be spoken of, candidly, accurately, dispassionately? It has been a great and bitter failure of our public discourse that the Senator has been subjected to (mild, but totally unnecessary and unfair) ridicule over the years, possibly out of pride on his part or misplaced hypersensitivity on everyone else's -- leave aside ignorance; what excuse can be made for anyone not knowing the effects of a right-brain injury versus a left-brain injury?

Too bad Jack Reed took his name out of contention.

Although he wouldn't flip a state, he'd be an effective surrogate and a reassuring presence as a gruff, older white man who is nevertheless young enough to run for president in 8 years if he wants to. He's firmly progressive, but not considered an extreme left-winger by the chattering classes. He's very well-respected, an expert in foreign policy, and a 12-year veteran of the army and a West Point grad who opposed the Iraq War from the start. And he comes from a working-class Catholic background.

Perfect fit. Except that he's basically taken himself out of the running, telling reporters that he would outright "REFUSE" the vice-presidency if offered.

Also, Nancy Pelosi has proposed Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas as a dark horse. He actually wouldn't be a bad pick, but if we're going for Texas congressmen as dark horses, why not go with Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin? Liberal but a squeaky-clean image, a nice drawl and a dynamic and charismatic campaigner. And like many other liberal southerners, he can escape the "left-winger" label applied to people like Feingold because he has a Southern accent.

Biden would indeed be an excellent foreign policy surrogate.

That should be viewed as an asset -- not a reminder that this is Obama's weak suit.

If it were to be perceived as that, the Dems should throw in the towel now.

I predict Obama will be terrific in foreign affairs as a president. If anything, his World Tour showed he has great enthusiasm for the subject.

Biden would really help Obama as an attack dog -- which, unfortunately, is a must-have these.

Neither Lieberman or Edwards did well in this area -- or the debates, another place Biden would shine.

Obama-Bayh sounds like the site of a Club Med.

Well, if we go by sound, say "Oba-McCain" three times fast :-)

-- TP

the mere thought of Kaine, a pro-life Catholic, gives a lot of progressives and feminists the heebie-jeebies

Which progressives and feminists are those?

@Aubrey: Could you provide a link to the Larry Sabato post on Kaine as VP? Thanks in advance.

That should be viewed as an asset -- not a reminder that this is Obama's weak suit.

If it were to be perceived as that, the Dems should throw in the towel now.

Exactly.


Biden would really help Obama as an attack dog -- which, unfortunately, is a must-have these.

Neither Lieberman or Edwards did well in this area -- or the debates, another place Biden would shine.

Precisely, as well. Bonzo, your post expresses my thoughts in a much more concise form. Of course, a big weakness of Biden as foreign policy surrogate is that he was wrong about Iraq. Still, though, I think he's the best of these four.

Google works well. :-)

Nell: Sabato link. Also, some progressive/feminist objections to Kaine as veep are outlined @ Shakesville and The G-Spot.

Also see this rather disillusioned post @ Raising Kaine (h/t Matt Stoller).

Thanks, mattb.

Shakes is full of shvt about Kaine's positions. He's at worst moderate; to call him 'gay baiting' and a 'war hawk' is to drain all the meaning out of those terms. I'm not rooting for him for Veep, and think that Obama doesn't need a Virginia pol on the ticket to carry the Commonwealth, but it pisses me off to see Kaine smeared that way.

@Gary: Yes, I'm aware of the Google. But when someone brings up a column or post, or makes a claim, it's not my job to do the link providing.

"Obama understands too well at a personal level how difficult empowered women are to manage."

Oh come on, really?

Anyway, I've been trying to get a better feel for these four with youtube video. Some thoughts so far...

Bayh: DNC, costs us a senate seat. Watching him I feel like he is constantly aware of how good looking he is. Not a comfortable speaker, pretty solid in interviews but not quite as sharp as some other candidates when pressed.

Biden: I just watched an interview (randomly selected) where Biden absolutely nailed a foreign policy question on Iran... and then slipped and called Ahmadinejad a "wacko". That's pretty much Biden in a nutshell for me.

Kaine: Not that popular in his home state. Pro-life/Catholic. Only two years of experience. Now that I've actually hunted down some video, I can't stand to watch him, personally. He's got some kind of cocky/smarmy thing going on. Aaagh!

Sebelius: Seems as strong in interview (debate?) format as Bayh/Biden, stolid but uninspiring as a speaker because she's a little uncomfortable personalizing things. Still extremely popular in home state, sterling record as governor. If Sebelius were male and therefore didn't anger the PUMA crowd, she might be the clear best pick, imo.

Don't pass too quickly over Schweitzer. He's a good campaigner and would be a significant asset in governing.

His approval rating in Montana is spectacular, his issue expertise(agriculture, renewable energy)complements Obama's, he's a governor and so has executive experience and won't cost a seat in Congress, in manner and appearance he'll reassure those "hard working white Americans".

His biggest downside is his lack of name recognition but that also means he doesn't have a lot of negatives to overcome.

I like Schweitzer a lot, I've heard a lot about him because my prefecture is 'twinned' with Montana for university exchanges (a legacy of Mansfield's turn as ambassador to Japan) and I wholeheartedly agree with doretta's points. I put a link to a Sirota piece about Schweitzer in a different thread, and this is another one that has some neat analysis, some of which discusses Montana. Sirota also wrote this about the gubernatorial campaign, though it should be noted that he worked on the campaign, so appropriate caveats.

here is another article about montana that, though from 2005, might be of interest

Getting confused with checking to make sure I get the links right. Anyway, all those articles are a bit dated and the second sirota one is the one that I posted in the other thread. Sorry for the confusion.

Nell, mattbastard posted the links about the Kaine non-fans that I was thinking of. I'm not as harsh on him as they are, but I do think that his positives aren't enough to justify the blowback.

I still am crossing my fingers that we're all being faked out and that it's Schweitzer, I can deal with Sebelius, but gawd, I wish Bill wasn't an issue because Hillary is looking pretty good to me, too.

There is no worse position for a politician than VP candidate on a losing ticket.

No one really wants the job this time around on either party's ticket. Eveyone hopes that someone else takes it and can eke out a win.

No one really wants the job this time around on either party's ticket.

{LOL!} Good one, ken!

Most Democrats smart enough to be Vice President are pretty confident of an Obama victory. There are a lot of people who'd love that job.

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