Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

February 20, 2008

Time to Talk About Obama's Veep Choice

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:40 am

I know, I wouldn’t blame you if you got tired of my ceaselessly reminding you about the virtual clairvoyance of my November 19 prediction about the Democratic primaries. Just one more time: my prediction on this blog came at a time when Hillary was way up in the polls, pundits were way down on Obama for being too weak and Stevensonian. But I felt his restraint was strength and that by not being bombastic (Obombastic?) I felt he was building a real connection with voters that would result in–I predicted–his winning Iowa, losing only narrowly to Hillary in New Hampshire; that Hillary might still look strong on Super Tuesday, but Obama would be the eventual nominee.

Okay, now, the morning after Wisconsin I think it’s time to talk about who his vice presidential choice will be. And to suggest PJM open up another contest, somewhat like the one prompted by my primary prognostications: who would be the best VP choices for each presumptive nominee. I’m only going to make a pick on the Democratic side, because 1) I think I have a great one and 2) I just don’t understand Republicans who are on some weird mission to destroy their best and strongest candidate because of what Roger L. Simon was, I believe, the first to call McCain Derangement Syndrome.

So let’s get to Obama’s Choice. I must admit it wasn’t my idea, but at least I immediately saw its merits. This morning, after the Wisconsin blowout, I ran into George Hirsch at our local bodega/newsstand. George was the founder of the much lauded, long lamented new journalism magazine New Times which featured many talented writers including for instance, Pulitzer prize winner Larry Wright (I also occasionally wrote for it under its gifted editor Jon Larsen). Anyway George made what I thought was a brilliant suggestion: Virginia Senator Jim Webb. A military hero with a son in Iraq, he can give ballast to Obama’s judgment on the situation there. he can defuse attacks from McCain on military issues. he can be Obama’s McCain! And he can do what veep nominees are usually tasked with doing: win a big state the nominee might not ordinarily win without his help: Webb’s home state of Virginia.

I think it would be a brilliant choice. But I’ve only begun to consider the matter, so I’d be interested in other suggestions, so I’ll enable comments but only for specific veep suggestions. none of the usual political rants, insults and abuse will be posted. I’ll comment on intelligent suggestions in a future post.

By the way you may have noticed that I have occasionally not enabled comments on some political posts because I’ tired of sifting through the low level rants and cowardly anonymous abuse. One commenter, so eager to share his deep wisdom, appended his response to the post below on de-regulation, to another post in the typically cowardly, afraid-to-use-his-real-name style of ranters and abusers. He asked from behind his fearful shield of anonymity if I “couldn’t take the heat”. The “heat’ he was bringing in this case was the laughable assertion that protecting consumers from tainted beef with stronger regulatory monitoring would ‘lead to the murder of the Jews” (Seriously!) No, friend, it’s not the heat it’s the stupidity.

As someone who has edited an anthology about anti-semitism–and as anyone who has read this blog can tell–I defer to no one in my awareness of the dangers of anti-semitism, but remarks that laughable are an embarrassment to those of us who care about the subject. Nonetheless–with few exceptions–this is the level of comment discourse I have to put up with whenever I do a political post. The combination of anonymity and political partisanship unfortunately brings out the stupid even in otherwise intelligent people. I put my name behind my opinions, why are you anonymous guys–and it’s almost always guys, big brave guys–so afraid? Can’t take the heat?

Anyway limit your comments to thoughtful veep proposals and they’ll get posted. And if you use your real name I’ll be more likely to treat them respectfully.

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21 Comments »

  1. Colin Powell would be great for either Barack or McCain. In the real world: Claire McCaskill for Obama, Olympia Snowe for McCain. Webb would be way too much of a distraction. I think McCain will pick Charlie Crist and Obama Martin O’Malley.

    Comment by charlie finch — February 20, 2008 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  2. My choice(s):
    Kathleen Sebelius (KS gov) or Janet Napolitano (NE gov)

    I was once of the opinion that either Clinton or Obama would have to go the white-male route–that anything else, for either of them, would be…too much history at once, I guess. I can’t exactly point to any specific thing that has changed my mind on that, but I just get a sense that people wouldn’t be as freaked out by a biracial-man-with-woman combo as I originally thought. (Am I just getting too high on Obama’s momentum and crossover appeal?)

    I also think it fits another philosophical way of looking at the vp choice. I’ve seen this referred to in various ways, essentially as utility vs. narrative. Webb wouldn’t be bad from a utility standpoint (the reasons you pointed out, basically), but a woman would reinforce Obama’s basic narrative about change and the future. Obviously, I fall more on the narrative side of things…which is to say, basically, that I’ve never been terribly convinced that the utilitarian (?) reasons for picking a vp actually pan out much, that people ultimately vote for the top half of the ticket regardless, but the vp pick can reinforce, or even help prove, the overarching theme of the top half’s campaign and rhetoric. (To put it another way: Gore was a terrific narrative pick for Clinton. While Quayle was essentially a utility pick, turned out to be a liability…and it didn’t cost Bush the election anyway.)

    For Obama, Sibelius/Napolitano would fit the narrative bill by adding not only a woman (ie, commitment to change), but a woman who has proven her ability to win over a majority of voters in states that would otherwise seem inhospitable to a Democrat, let alone a female one (ie, bipartisan unity/ability to reach out and get things done). And she’s a governor (ie, not a part of the Washington culture).

    And if I may inject a practical consideration, I wonder if that might not help ease whatever tensions might remain among Dem and independent women who aren’t thrilled with what they see as another experienced woman “passed over” in the corporate-boys-club sense. (You and I may or may not believe that’s what’s happening, but for one half of the Knoderer household, I can tell you, that suspicion is lingering heavily right now.)

    Also, Webb strikes me as someone who seems like a good utility pick on paper and becomes kind of a headache in reality. Another mere intuition on my part…and I’ve gone on long enough.

    Comment by Tony Knoderer — February 20, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  3. Colin Powell

    Comment by Mo Cohen — February 20, 2008 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  4. I’ve been really impressed with Jim Webb, but I can think of three reasons not to make him Barack’s VP:

    1. That’s a tough senate seat to give up.

    2. I know this isn’t considered an ‘experience’ year, but Obama / Webb would have a combined 6 years of experience in government above the State-legislature level. That’s probably less than McCain’s favorite pair of pants has.

    3. He’s a bit too conservative for me. He voted for the FISA bill and all.

    I would love to see Obama pick Gary Hart, whose far-sightedness in foreign / energy policy would provide a strong complement to Obama’s argument that judgement, not experience, is the key to preventing disasters. Like Webb, Hart could give Obama significantly more foreign-policy credibility without putting a dent in the purity of the outsider status that is so vital to his appeal.

    He also offers the advantage of a stupid sex-scandal in his past, which just might tempt conservative 527s to spend some money attacking him, which would mean less money to attack Obama. And here’s the best part!–he was a groomsman in McCain’s wedding. So maybe McCain would then waste some time defending his old friend from his own party’s 527 attacks, as he did for Kerry in ’04.

    If only he weren’t 5 years too old!

    Comment by Pete Ziemkiewicz — February 20, 2008 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  5. What about Joe Sestak? 3 star admiral.

    Comment by George — February 20, 2008 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  6. Joseph Biden. Best Dem on foreign policy and years of experience.
    Webb is awful choice. what would that make, a combined 4 or 5 years experience?
    Obama already has the anti-war vote, which Webb won with in 2006. He needs someone with a significant amount of experience. If not Biden because Obama might want to ride the “not from Washington” wave, at least a successful governor.

    Comment by bryan — February 20, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  7. Al Gore. I don’t think he would go along with it, but think of the good Mr. Gore could accomplish with a position of power behind him again. Serving as VEEP for more than two terms is not Constitutionally restricted. Plus, his status has risen immeasurably since 2000.

    Comment by Stephen Hershman — February 21, 2008 @ 3:15 am | Reply

  8. Ron — This isn’t about the veep, but your direct question about why some of us post anonymously.

    I’m surprised you even ask. I live and work in a super-blue part of the country. After 9-11, I flipped from being progressive to something like a neocon. I’ve lost friends and communities as a result. I also work in a super-blue industry and don’t want to leave a google-able trail of my politics behind me for people to track the next time I interview for a new job.

    I’ve hosted online conferences and know the headaches of unpleasant, polemical posters. I recommend that you allow comments and moderate as you see fit.

    I can understand job-related reasons, although I don’t think that’s the main reason for anonymity. I think it’s so grown ups can hurl infantile insults without exposing their timidity or stupidity.

    Comment by huxley — February 21, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  9. Bill Richardson.

    I’m not sure delivering NM or the Southwest is high on Obama’s list, but Richardson is eminently qualified and fills the “experience vacuum.” He’s got solid crossover appeal, which nicely dovetails with Obama’s profile.

    I agree w/a previous post, stating that the democrats may be loathe to surrender Webb’s senate seat.

    Comment by Rich Markus — February 21, 2008 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  10. Senator Webb is a possibility; however, I keep coming back to the following.

    Since the beginning of this campaign in 2006 I have had one of those intuitive feelings that the nominees for the Democrat Party would be either Hillary Clinton and Obama or would be Obama and Hillary.

    Occassionally. I discard that thought. Once again I am back to that as a distinct possibility.

    Both candidates have a keen desire to be President. They have gone through their political jabs at each other and now seem to be ameliorating those.

    As I see it, if one of these two is named and does not choose the other for the VP they and the Democrat Party run the risk of alienating the supporters of the other.

    In other words, to unify the Democrat Party both will have to be on the ticket.

    That then leads to how this would play to the Independents and the Republicans that Obama indicates he can attract.

    Comment by Malinda — February 22, 2008 @ 12:24 am | Reply

  11. Well, I’ll just agree with Pete for the most part. Webb would be fine for the reasons you both pointed out.

    If we are looking for more experience, maybe some military background, someone who can bring some of that stuff… well, I liked Kerry, though maybe I’m in the minority, maybe his previous runs make him not kosher somehow.

    Edwards? Works well for me. Richardson also. Maybe I just don’t want someone to mess it up with baggage.

    In this election, I am simply voting against the approach we have taken over the past 8 years. I want change so we don’t think of bombing as the first alternative but the last. Plus I think National Health Care makes good sense. (Thats the quick summary, please take it in good faith.)

    Let’s hope for the best everyone!

    Comment by Ed Hawkes — February 22, 2008 @ 3:01 am | Reply

  12. If Webb becomes Obama’s McCain, what will happen if Condi becomes McCain’s Obama?

    Comment by Jon Bass — February 22, 2008 @ 5:59 am | Reply

  13. There are two issues with Webb: he barely defeated george Allen for the senate seat, and he’s been married three times.

    Obama will pull a shocker and demonstrate his willingness to work with both parties to build consensus: Olympia Snowe. She’s moderate on social issues and could be persuaded to support universal health care; she’s got 12 years in the senate and another 16 in the house; she’s served on military and foreign policy committees.

    He’ll convince her to join the ticket.

    Comment by timmer — February 22, 2008 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  14. I’ve been for Webb for awhile now. As for his experience, don’t forget that he was Secretary of the Navy in addition to his Senate experience. Also, Gov. Kaine could replace him with another Dem. But here are my next few choices:

    1) Gen. Anthony Zinni (also from Virginia).

    2) Sen. McCaskill (win Mizzou you win the election).

    3) Sherrod Brown (Ohio is a key state and he’s a fresh face).

    4) Mary Landreau (Yet another key swing state).

    5) Gov. Tim Kaine (also a Va native).

    6) Russ Fiengold (not gonna happen, but a guy can dream, right?).

    7) Ted Strickland (would be a great swing-state bone to toss to the Clinton backers).

    PLEASE NOT: Kathleen Sebelius. I watched the SOTU response. I fell asleep. I think I just woke up.

    PLEASE NOT: Anyone who’s not “fresh” (AKA Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Hillary, etc).

    PLEASE NOT: Anyone who can’t bring a specific state into play. No New Yorkers, Californians, Washintonians, etc.

    Comment by Greggie — February 22, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  15. I’m sorry to break your rules, so I’ll keep it short: first time here, love your analysis, will come back daily.
    Are you ready to rule out Senator Clinton as VP? I would love to know your reasons. I personally think she is ghastly, but it WILL unite the party behind the ticket.

    I wouldn’t rule it out, but polls show half the electorate would never vote for her for president, so it’s questionable whether she would add or subtract from the ticket’s appeal

    Comment by Ulla Lauridsen — February 23, 2008 @ 3:35 am | Reply

  16. Senator Jim Webb would be a good pick, and Democratic governor Tim Kaine could appoint a Democrat to fill his seat so that the US Senate Democratic caucus would not lose a vote. The replacement Senator–Mark Warner?–would have to be a strong, moderate Democratic figure who could keep the seat. Remember that Kaine was supporting Obama, who won the Virginia primary in a blowout, so I don’t doubt that may be some conversations on all of this going on.

    Or, Obama might just consider Warner outright. He’s a bit too centrist for my tastes, but he has great appeal in his state and would probably go over well across the country. Finally, there’s Kaine himself. He’s a moderate Catholic Democratic, and is quite popular at home, so he’d also make a good choice.

    McCaskill is also a great choice. She’s a moderate Democrat, Roman Catholic, from a key swing state, and is pretty forceful, much more so than Sebelius, who is like a wet tissue; She also doesn’t have to worry about an issue that might dog Napolitano, who is unmarried. But Missouri has an extreme right-wing (but very unpopular governor), Matt Blunt, who’d appoint a right-winger to McCaskill’s seat, so having her as the VP candidate would be a huge risk if she stepped down.

    Other good choices for Obama might include governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a populist, folksy Democrat who has Obama’s gift for Democratic-directed bipartisanship, instead of the usual Republicanist pseudo-bipartisanship that the GOP-loving establishment media fetishize so much; Joe Sestak or Patrick Murphy, two former military men who are politically quite progressive; governor Mike Easley, of North Carolina, whose term is up in 2008; governor Chet Culver, of Iowa, an energetic young Democrat; and Washington State governor Christine Gregoire.

    Of course there’s also Bill Richardson, but that might be pressing things, so I do hope that if Obama wins the election, he moves quickly to appoint Bill Richardson as Secretary of State, barring no seamy information about Richardson’s personal life.

    One person whose name hasn’t arisen, interesting, is West Virginia’s very popular Democratic governor, Joe Manchin III. He’s anti-abortion, which might be a deal-killer (I think it ought to be for the VP slot), but I do hope that if Robert Byrd decides to step down, Manchin runs for his seat. He would be a reliable, moderate Democratic vote for either Obama or Clinton, and at 60, he could serve throughout either of their two (hope hope) terms.

    Comment by Jax — February 23, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  17. Mr. Rosenbaum

    In reference to the post by Huxley:

    My last name is rather unique as is my first. I am happy to share my full name with you but not my full name on a public board.

    If I must give my full name I will simply not post but be a reader.

    Regardless, your writing is fascinating and the dialogue of other posters of interest.

    My objection is principally to those who use anonymity to hurl insults and abuse while lacking the courage to take responsibility for them.

    Comment by Malinda — February 23, 2008 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  18. Webb would be a poor fit for Obama. Webb barely won his seat, he’s very aloof, not a good campaigner, his past insulting remarks about women at Annapolis, etc., all add up to a potential rogue candidate blowing an election we very well should win.

    Olympia Snowe is intriguing! How about Chuck Hagel?

    Senators Bayh and Biden provide great foreign policy experience, but also have negatives. Could Bayh deliver red-state Indiana? Bayh also adds executive experience as he was gov., of Indiana for 8 years as well.

    Comment by Rob — February 26, 2008 @ 11:33 pm | Reply

  19. As much as candidates for the VEEP position are essential to know, it could be helpful if people also suggest names for the key cabinet positions, especially, Secretaries of State, Defence, and Attorney General.

    Comment by Abate Kassa — May 18, 2008 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  20. […] Obama Vice President Picks in the Huffington Post, Time to Talk About Obama’s Veep Choice by […]

    Pingback by I won’t be Obama’s veep - but one of these three might be | billso.com — June 22, 2008 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  21. Bill Richardson has the most experience. He could also bring in the hispanic vote getting New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and possibly Texas and Kansas

    Comment by Don Miles — June 29, 2008 @ 1:51 pm | Reply


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