Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Re-Thinking Barack Obama's Vice-President Choice

No Future Presidents Need Apply?

I remain steadfastly on the record for Barrack Obama selecting someone for VPOTUS who will help him govern as opposed to helping him get elected. That's because I see that his greatest challenges will be coming at him in the next four years as opposed to the next four months. Such is the ruination left behind by the Busheney epoch that:
  • The Obama ticket should win a comfortable margin even among the least informed sectors of the electorate.
  • Cleaning up the mess from the Republican years is too much for one full-time chief executive.
If Obama demonstrates, partly by his choice for Vice-President, that he means business as far as sanitation engineering in national and international policies, he should have no difficulty in being elected. Even more than in his Cabinet, Barrack needs to assign the Vice-Presidency to a member of the Democratic "varsity".

To briefly review possible criterion for running mates:
  1. Someone to balance the ticket by clenching the electoral votes of one or more battleground states.
  2. Someone who can be trusted to carry and share a substantial burden of governing with the President-Elect.
  3. Someone to be groomed to run for president following the term of the Presidential nominee.

I have already stated my reasons for thinking that the short list of first-stringers for this position has to include General Wesley Clark. Wes definitely scores high in reason #2.

In the Los Angeles Times this morning, a highly thinkable alternative was suggested by UCLA political science professor Thomas Schwartz who says, VP Wanted: No future Presidents Please. Schwartz builds a historical argument as to what bad presidential candidates Vice Presidents make.

Balancing the presidential ticket has been the traditional selection criterion for Veeps, he says. Eisenhower broke that mold when he selected Richard Nixon, who was groomed to be his successor. "The pattern was set," says Schwartz, "The vice presidential nomination came to be seen as the anointment of an electoral succession." However the results were mixed. Candidates apprenticing as vice-presidents were only 50% accepted by the electorate. Despite the Bush and Cheney struck another model as co-presidents. Still, the model of vice president as future president is still currently widely held. Not a good idea Schwartz argues,
the pattern is now so ingrained that if McCain or Obama puts a plausible electoral successor on the ticket, he will have partly rigged the 2016 election, loading it like a bad pair of dice. No one is smart enough to choose the best candidate for president eight years in advance.
While I may quarrel with Schwartz's historical arguments, I certainly have to admire his recommendation for Barrack Obama's considerations:
A better running mate is a distinguished elder statesman eminently qualified to assume the presidency but too old to run in eight years …

For Obama, an obvious choice is Bob Graham, also born in 1936. The former Florida governor and U.S. senator (and more recently a professor at Harvard) is a renowned expert on intelligence policy and a marvelously articulate speaker. His own 2004 presidential bid fizzled, but in part for a commendable reason: Unlike John Kerry and Howard Dean, Graham unequivocally opposed the Iraq war all along.

More often mentioned as a running mate for Obama, former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia resembles Graham in age (69), region and national security expertise. But Nunn lacks Graham's charisma and breadth of experience, and although he too opposed a war, it was the wrong one: He opposed the Persian Gulf War of 1991, President George H.W. Bush's geopolitical masterpiece that saved not only Kuwait but the United Nations.
I certainly agree that Bob Graham should rank over Sam Nunn on Barack's short list (by a whole lot). Also, picking Graham over Wes Clark could smooth Clinton feathers:
For Obama , the conventional choice of an electoral successor creates a dilemma. He does not want Hillary Clinton hanging around the White House (with her connubial baggage) for eight years, and he knows that her formidable talents would help him more in the Senate or the State Department. But if he chooses any other plausible electoral successor, he unfairly hurts Clinton's prospects in 2016, infuriating her present fans. Even more than McCain, Obama has no good alternative to the choice of an elder statesman.
In other words, an elder statesman like Bob Graham would not hurt Hillary's aspirations in 2012. I still like Wes Clark, but Bob Graham is totally thinkable!

15 Moderated Comments:

Blogger MadMike said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/07/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Vigil what are you thinking? You write:

"I remain steadfastly on the record for Barrack Obama selecting someone for VPOTUS who will help him govern as opposed to helping him get elected."

Vigil, if he doesn't get elected he won't BE governing.

As to Bob Graham: he is a nice guy but far too old to compliment the ticket. Secondly, he is a Washington insider and people are looking for change. This is a very bad idea and I am pleased that he is not even under consideration.

I like Wes Clark a lot, but he is no longer under serious consideration. He is known to say things without thinking and the Obama camp recognizes that is a liability. I don't agree as I believe his comment about McCain was right on the money but it doesn't appear that he is in the top five.

As to Hillary, I am consistent: She will help him get elected by a landslide, and at the risk of repeating myself, he needs to get elected BEFORE he can govern. Unfortunately, like Clark I no longer think she is under consideration. I am afraid he will pick some pure white bread like Evan Bayh, who few have heard of and fewer care about. Oh well! The election is his to lose, and lose he well might. The dems are good at losing presidential elections.

8/07/2008 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

I like Bob Graham. He is an excellent choice and one that would almost certainly help Obama pass the Electorial College goal, but.....

Why Obama is even considering anyone except Hillary Clinton is beyond me.

Today Obama is in a real fight and McCain has the upper hand (in my opinion). madmike is TOTALLY CORRECT!!!

...he needs to get elected BEFORE he can govern.

Why is Obama even taking a chance with his victory? Hillary locks it in. Get elected first.

8/07/2008 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger MacDaddy said...

Obama will get elected. He is more qualified. He's smarter; he uses better judgment on the issues; and he knows about issues and how to address them, when Grandpa-love-me-some-Bush McCain has no answers. The Republicans know it. That's why they're going after Obama and not his policy. It worked with Kerry, but it won't work with Barack.

As for Hillary Clinton, she is a divisive politician. So is her husband. Second, they come as a pair. Both are divisive. Both would make it more difficult for Obama to govern.

My choice is Wesley Clarke or Sen. Kaine. Kaine could deliver Pennsylvania. On the other hand, Clark has a stellar reputation. Also, he would not allow our troops to be put in harm's way, unless it was absolutely necessary.

8/07/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

Bill & Hill Want?

Talk is afoot that Bill Clinton will be the primary speaker at Obama's convention. Listen carefully to that speech and you will not hear anything even close to an endorsement of Barack Obama. Wait and see, he will make several references to 2012. He's also slammed Gore in an interview a few days ago when he said even eight years of being vice president doesn't qualify you to deal with the first year of the presidency:

You can argue that nobody is ready to be president You can argue that, even if you've been vice president for eight years, that no one can be fully ready for the pressures of the office.

Even the commentators immediately pointed out what a dig that was to Gore. But what do the Clintons want? What does Bill want for Hillary? Doesn't sound like he thinks the Vice-Prez is the stairway to the presidency. Not to me.

8/07/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I agree with what Mad Mike has said (somewhere) when he suggested that I may be erring in the direction of too much confidence in the judgment of my fellow American electorate. That's a valid point. That said, I want to raise another point.

I think it's a flawed perspective to underestimate the righteous indignation of the American electorate. Busheney have a lot to answer for. I think Americans want Busheney and the GOP horses they rode in on ought to be spanked. They want the Democrats to stand up (finally) and whip those crooked and corrupt criminals. They want toughness. If the Democrats can't be tough on Bush & Cheney & Co, how in fuck can they be expected to be tough on terrorists?

I'm dearly hoping that Axelrod is holding Barack back because he doesn't want to see him peak too early. I hope that's the story. But I'm really worried about the Barackis-Dukakis tradition. This country has been in deep constitutional crisis for all of this decade. It's due for a showdown (not to mention a roundup.)

Nominating Wes Clark would serve notice that it's going to happen. Nominating Hillary with Bill in the mix means that anything can happen. Nominating Bob Graham would throw a sop to the Hillary. Nominating Birch Bayh (bought & sold) would serve notice that nothing is going to happen.

The question I would like to ask Wizard is WTF would he like to see happen? In an Obama-X or Obama-Y administration?

8/08/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

And my hat's off to MacDaddy. I feel this dude remembers what happened to Kerry (got his hat handed to him in a handbasket). I feel this dude actually read what General Clark said about McCain (giving him due respect for his heroic service in Vietnam) as opposed to swallowing whole the sound bites dished out by the MSM and the GOP. MacDaddy's got the feel. Spend some time reading him, if you won't take my word for it.

8/08/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Senator Graham had cancer a few years ago, and that was the biggest reason he didn't pursue the nomination. I know him and former Sen. Nunn personally from having worked for former Fl. Gov. Buddy MacKay as far back as 1988. Nunn probably doesn't want to be anything more than an advisor. Graham can be an advisor on something special that the others lack: when he was both on the Hill and Florida governor, he was a stellar advocate for Veterans.

Still and all, I'm a Clarkie and will be til my dying day. Gen. Clark is seen as the liberator of Kosovo... what a brash victory that was. They renamed their main thoroughfare Wesley Clark boulevard, and some talk about him like he's Alexander the Great. And he's such a brilliant analyst of policy, not just on foreign affairs, the military, but economic stimulation, hope for American families, etc.

BO will be the buffoon if he walks away from the Clark option.

8/08/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

vigilante, I think Barack can, should and must pick Hillary. And I think he has. I believe it's a done deal.

I DO NOT THINK "Americans want Busheney and the GOP horses they rode in on ought to be spanked. They want the Democrats to stand up (finally) and whip those crooked and corrupt criminals."

I think the public (by a pretty good majority) wants the political infighting to stop. I think they really, really want compromise and cooperation between parties. I think they want Bush gone and then completely forgotten.

8/08/2008 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

What are you smoking, Wizard? Bush can never be forgotten. As John Dean - who should know - said, Bush is worse than Nixon. Has anyone forgotten Nixon. What are you smoking?

8/08/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Professor Schwartz's prescription for an elder statesman insider for McCain's veep doesn't seem to work well for the GOP. Elizabeth Dole? McCain doesn't want some one who can't run four or eight years from now. He wants some one who can finish out his first term or finish out this presidential campaign, for that matter. Elizabeth Dole? I certainly hope McCain is listening and takes this advice!

8/08/2008 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

I see a problem with Bob Graham. What if McCain picks Lindsey Graham for his Vice-president. That would be two Grahams in the race. And then add in Phil Graham somewhere and the poor vacillating voters will have their name-identification all twisted into knots. Campaign literature will struggle to straighten all this out:

Phil G. = "All Americans are whiners."
Lindsey G. = "All anti-war Democrats are appeasers and defeatists."
Bob G. = "War in Iraq was an unnecessary waste."

Voters who get their info from the NSM will never sort this out.

8/08/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Petrosexual said...

You could clear it all up by telling all Democrat voters to be sure to vote for the chocolate graham cracker ticket!

8/08/2008 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

Joe Lieberman seems to be very high on McCain's short list.

No chance of Elizabeth Dole and frankly, no chance Lindsey Graham.

soros proxy I realize how very serious vigilante and most of the others who comment here are about wanting Impeachement and prosecution and jail for Bush and Company.

BUT I don't think the American public is with you at all on this. If you read a broad spectrum of websites like I do, including a significant number of moderate, mainstream and conservative sites, you quickly realize there is no groundswell for punishing Bush.

Look how little interest there is in Ron Suskind’s new book. No. 44 at Swiftspeech writes passionately every day about these new revelations, yet (yesterday at least) there was not a single new blog post on Huffington or Kos about this issue. Everyone is focused on the election.

Even more telling is that Conservative sites are completely ignoring the issue. They would quickly rally to defend Bush if there was any real risk of prosecutorial action.

The country really wants to look forward. Maybe I am wrong, but that's how I see it.

8/09/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

I agree with you, Wizard. Time being short, electoral repudiation of McBush III is more realistic than impeachment of Bush-Cheney I & II.

If you haven't already done so, I invite you to partake of an opportunity to win your stripes as Pundit of the Month by picking McCain's running mate! It's not too late!

8/09/2008 02:40:00 PM  

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