Tuesday, June 29, 2004
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The large residual of political skill
Man, is the left half of the blogosphere going to town on Richard Gephardt. Guest-posting last week at Talking Points Memo, both Ruy Teixeira and John B. Judis say that picking Gephardt would be a mistake. Belle Waring is even less enthusiastic:
Waring links to this post from Fafblog, which provides the most honest assessment I've ever read about Richard Gephardt's political magnetism:
So who do these people prefer? If you read Judis, Teixeira, and Waring, it's John Edwards.
Here's the thing, though -- just how different is Edwards from Gephardt? On policy positions, both of them lean strongly protectionist, and both of them voted in favor of the war in Iraq. Both of them championed the down-and-outers during their primary campaigns. Edwards is from the South and Gephardt is from the Midwest, but I'm betting the reason Gephardt is still in play is because Kerry thinks that the Midwest will be the key battleground, while the South doesn't matter. If one were to choose based on political experience, even Edwards would have to concede that Gephardt's twenty years in DC outranks John Edwards' single term in the Senate.
So is there a difference? As one of those still on the fence, yeah, in my mind there's a difference. If Kerry picks Gephardt, there's no chance in hell I'm pulling the donkey lever. If he picks Edwards... I dunno. When I see Richard Gephardt on television, all I can think of is, "idiotic protectionist." When I see John Edwards on television, I think, "Hmmm... seems like an OK guy, maybe he's not as much of a protectionist as I suspect."
Why is this? Policy is not the only thing that matters in making political choices. There is such a thing as political skill. For example, the most important gift in campaigning is the ability to say something a voter disagrees with while making that voter think you're still a good guy.
Reagan had it. Clinton had it. Edwards has it.
Gephardt doesn't have it.
UPDATE: Thanks to Howard Kurtz for serving up an approving link to this post.posted by Dan on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM
Unfortunately, Kerry doesn't have it, Bush doesn't have it. Clinton could argue that the Krispy Kreme diet would be an effective method of weight-loss and damn near compel the entire nation to undertake such an endeavor. Bush II, while lacking the rhetorical and verbal mastery of his predecessors was able to accomplish much in his arguments for his policies, but that was only after he had the king-kong paperweight of 9/11 to justify every single policy initiative. Kerry, with his staccato and ulcer-ridden delivery suffers from the complimentary problem. This can't be the best there is.posted by: Neil on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Daniel Drezner wrote:
So is there a difference? As one of those still on the fence, yeah, in my mind there's a difference. If Kerry picks Gephardt, there's no chance in hell I'm voting Dem. If he picks Edwards... I dunno. When I see Richard Gephardt on television, all I can think of is, "idiotic protectionist." When I see John Edwards on television, I think, "Hmmm... seems like an OK guy, maybe he's ot as protectionist as I fear."
Yes, I suppose if you’re willing to ignore things like:
“I didn't vote for NAFTA. I campaigned against NAFTA. I voted against the Chilean trade agreement, against the Caribbean trade agreement, against the Singapore trade agreement, against final passage of fast track for this president.”
Bush, btw was for each of the things that Edwards proudly voted against.
Just out of curiosity, how do you square giving Edwards a pass on his far more protectionist record than Bush square while pillorying the POTUS over steel tariffs for the last several months? Is there an actual rationale for it, other than a double-standard, I mean.
I agree that policy is not the only qualification for public office. There is a quality of leadership and ability to inspire that is of enormous importance, especially in crisis (see Churchill, Winston). I always underestimate it when pondering candidates but am grateful when I see it. I thought W did quite well in the few months after 9/11 on that score, and that was when it mattered.
I'm writing from NH, where we see our candidates live and sweating (though that is changing. The ability to avoid people in NH while looking as if you are mixing in is becoming standard). What Edwards has is a trial lawyer's plausibility. If we were sending someone to negotiate, Edwards has some advantages. But stop and imagine life under a president John Edwards in time of catastrophe. Kerry can at least adopt the pose of senior thoughtful statesman. Edwards will always be a trial lawyer. A very scary guy.posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Gephardt is an old, tired face. I think he would turn off just about everyone except diehard Dems.
Gephardt for a cabinet post, maybe, but not for VP.
My personal choice is still Bill Richardson. Edwards is not a bad choice, and he'll certainly get at least part of the female vote (my wife was shocked when I told her he was over 50). Can he be President ? Yes, I think so, with a good cabinet if that ever happens.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
nah, i think it will now be Hillary "I'm going to take your money away from you for the common good" Clinton.posted by: b on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I think that Gephardt does add something to the ticket, namely, serious experience. Here Kerry does have a serious weakness as his Senatorial career has been rather light-weight. Edwards has this problem even more than Kerry does. Gephardt does not have this problem, having been a major player in the House for years. Especially when running against an incumbent, such gravitas counts. Think of George Bush picking Dick Cheney as Vice-President.posted by: Average Joe on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Bush picked Cheney for his experience and washington skills that Bush would need
The VP pick probably won't swing the election but could play a major role in the success or failure in the next admin
I cannot see Edwards being much help to Kerry as a VP after the election
I can see Richardson or Ron Rubin being very helpful to President Kerry.posted by: tallan on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Edwards is certainly an appealing candidate, but his complete lack of experience is a deal breaker. Bush's entire campaign is based on his being a "war president"; foreign policy, and Bush's competence in managing it, have become dominant issues in the campaign. What on earth can a one-term congressman bring to that party?Furthermore, Edward's "two Americas" message -- the only moving theme he really brought to the primary campaign -- won't have the resonance it had a year ago, particularly if the economy continues to improve over the next five months. The Republicans will make a great deal of Edwards' lack of experience, and paint a Kerry-Edwards ticket as risky. Gephardt may not light fires, but he's experienced and feisty (remember his characterization of Bush as "a miserable failure"?); in wartime, "safe" is not necessarily a bad thing to be. Democrats could do better, but they certainly could do a lot worse.posted by: czapnik on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Just because the vice president in the last two administrations has played an important policy role doesn't mean that it has to be that way. It's a cheap shot, but what did Dan Quayle bring to the table? Kerry has enough experience for the ticket (and what does Gephardt know that Kerry doesn't?) As for being a poor potential replacement, is anybody really happy about the possibility of President Cheney?
I'm not saying Edwards is a perfect choice - Richardson might be better, but he doesn't seem to want the job. And it seems to me that Edwards complements Kerry for campagning; he comes across as younger, more energetic, more exciting. In terms of trying to win the election, I think Edwards is a better option than Gephardt. And I don't know that there's a better available candidate out there.
Hillary's just NOT going to happen.posted by: Devin McCullen on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
There's just one problem with the Edwards scenario: Kerry does not think much of Edwards. During the primaries, he was heard to question, with the mikes on, how Edwards could possibly be a factor in the South if he could not even carry his own state. (Many think Edwards took a pass on a Senate re-election race because victory looked dicey.) Edwards, let's not forget, had a middling performance, winning exactly one state. Kerry also has been cited as saying, in essence, "What makes this guy think he could be president?" The formal and formalistic Kerry does not believe that Edwards, like him, has paid his dues. There is also reportedly no chemistry between the men. A presidential nominee rarely chooses his nomination competitor. It's happened exactly twice in 44 years, though both those tickets did win. (JFK and LBJ in '60 and Reagan and Bush in '80. Dole picked Kemp in '96, but they competed in '88.) I don't think Kerry is going to be forced into a shotgun marriage with Edwards, despite the relentless clamoring by the media, the punditry, and now polls on CNN and elsewhere. Even Ralph Nader has weighed in as match maker! Edwards also is the favorite of the trial lawyer brigade (hence Nader), and picking him makes Kerry look like a captive to a leftish interest group with a strangle-hold on the party. Hardly a Sister Souljah instance of initial presidential decision making that's going to inspire thoughts of independence and boldness.
If Kerry goes for a bold, interesting, and surprising choice, it will be Bob Kerrey, Sam Nunn, Evan Bayh, or maybe John Breaux. If he goes for tried and true -- and someone he likes, feels could be president, and is personally comfortable with -- it'll be Gephardt.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Devin, most of what people say about what the VP brings to the table is wrong. To my mind the best a VP candidate can bring to the table is an indefinable sense that 1+1=3-- thus Clinton and Gore together looked like a real team of bright youngish doers, moreso than either alone; and Reagan plus Bush Sr. made a balanced pairing of the firebrand governor and the steady Washington insider. In fact I think that's fairly rare-- more likely that they're nullities who have no real effect (Quayle, Ferraro, Lieberman) or even guys who make the top half of the ticket suddenly seem inadequate (as Bentsen did to Dukakis).
The trouble for Kerry is that it's really, really hard to come up with a name that doesn't reinforce his negatives. Gephardt-- tired, windy years in Congress pushing the Dems' main interest groups' agendas. Edwards-- two Senators with thin records, the younger one making the older one look older and tireder yet. Evan Bayh-- see Edwards. Generals Zinni and Clark-- when's the last time you actually touched down in flyover country instead of being Washington (or The Hague) insiders? What Kerry needs is an energetic Democratic governor, not another senator or congressman-- which is why Bill Richardson does seem one of the best choices (I have no way of gauging how genuine his uninterest in the job is, or how easily he'd cave to pressure for the good of the party).posted by: Mike G on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Gephardt for Democratic-lifetime-achievement-award-big-party-wow-what-a-long-and-honorable-career-you-had-now-shut-up-go-home-to-Missouri-and-write-your-memoir-or-better-yet-just-shut-up-and-go-home-to-Missouri.posted by: Snarkasaurus Rex on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
If the Democratic party is so determined to crash and burn let's have Michael Moore run and throw enough fat in the fire to go out in a real blaze of glory.posted by: Lee on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
“Here's the thing, though -- just how different is Edwards from Gephardt?”
That is a very easy question to answer: Richard Gephardt is an attractive man---but John Edwards is deemed gorgeous. Looks are extremely important. We may feel uncomfortable admitting this awkward fact, but it’s the truth of the matter. Edwards constantly benefits because so many people are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He would be dead meat if he were homelier. What does Edwards stand for? In many ways, it doesn’t matter. Edwards serves as a Rorschach test. He is whatever you want him to be.posted by: David Thomson on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
How many powerful blonde men can you think of? There aren't that many.
People seem to prefer dark hair or the (greyed remnants of dark hair) for their leaders.posted by: Jon H on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
(The core problem of Gephardt is that he's spent his career in the House, which I think is somewhat damaging to one's mind and priorities.)posted by: Jon H on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
This may be the one year where being a tired Democrat technocrat is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. Because the hunger in 2004 is for people who know what they are doing. Edwards -- the one-term trial lawyer -- does not bring that to the table. And if he did, he'd overshadow the presidential nominee -- another big no-no.
I'd go with Bill Richardson. He has Washington experience. He could put some states in play (New Mexico, Arizona.) And he's a link (but not a scandal-ridden link) to the last administration,which is pretty well rememberedby the public.
And, Dan, let me suggest your logic is off on the VP nominee. Given your free trade views, I'd be more scared by an Edwards who has the ability to sweet talk this nation into protectionism, rather than grey old Gephardt who will fight the good fight and lose gracefully.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I'd go with Bill Richardson. He has Washington experience. He could put some states in play (New Mexico, Arizona.) And he's a link (but not a scandal-ridden link) to the last administration, which is pretty well remembered by the public.
Except for the matter of the missing hard disks from Los Alamos while he was Secretary of Energy (which is what Richardson is most famously remembered for). Is it fair to blame him for this? Well according to Slate:
According to Richardson's Wednesday testimony, the FBI has turned up no evidence of espionage involving the hard drives. That is good news for the United States, but perhaps bad news for Richardson, since the alternative to espionage is something much more humiliating: incompetence. The huge lag between the drives' disappearance and Richardson's hearing about it, the shoddy record-keeping in the security vault, the rediscovery of the drives behind a copying machine, Richardson's persistent ignorance about what was going on at Los Alamos—all this make the secretary look like a sap.If Kerry picks Richardson he forfeits the national security issue (and arguably the tax cut issue as well) as well any ability to credibly challenge the management of any issue that happened under Bush’s watch. posted by: Thorley Winston on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I think some people are paying too much attention to the substance of Kerry's Senate career. Maybe he hasn't done much there, but I don't think that's going to be an issue in the campaign. Most voters will look at a 20-year Senate career and assume that he's an experienced politican and knows how Washington works. Bush would have to work very hard to make it an issue, and there are easier ways to attack Kerry.
(Feel free to ignore this)
“Given your free trade views, I'd be more scared by an Edwards who has the ability to sweet talk this nation into protectionism.”
The same holds true for Robert Rubin, Brad DeLong, and other pro growth Democrats. I’ve argued for some time that these individuals have been unofficially excommunicated. There is only one thing uniting the current Democrat Party: an intense dislike of George W. Bush. Hating the President, however, is unlikely to be sufficient. Eventually the Democrats must state their own goals for the country---and this is when the proverbial crap hits the fan.
President Bush is going up in the polls. The most recent Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll is probably not a fluke. A weakened John Kerry will reminds Democrats that they must fight for the very soul of their party. Can a Robert Rubin fully cooperate with a John Edwards? Is Appalled Moderate willing to hug Al Sharpton? Will Moveon.org cheer for Joseph Lieberman? I doubt this very much. The selection of a VP candidate forces Democrats to confront the reality that they really have little in common with each other.posted by: David Thomson on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Appalled Moderate says: "I'd go with Bill Richardson. He has Washington experience. He could put some states in play (New Mexico, Arizona.) And he's a link (but not a scandal-ridden link) to the last administration,which is pretty well rememberedby the public."
Not scandal-ridden? Richardson (a) fumbled the Wen Ho Lee witch hunt at Los Alamos when he was Clinton's Energy Secretary, and (b) bumbled the removal of Monica Lewinsky from the Clinton White House, at the President's request, by interviewing her himself at the Watergate for a job at the U.N. (Monica later wroter him a thank you note thanking him for his service, ahem, to the nation and assuring him what a great ambassador he was.)
An administration pretty well remembered by the public? A recent A.P. poll showed that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of President Clinton, compared to 41% positive.
Jon Juzlak, Tallan, Devin, and Mike G. all put forth Richardson, some noting how he doesn't really want the job.
Richardson hungers for the job and any national attention, or local attention for that matter. The man is a showboat. He is also thought of as a lightweight (no jokes, please) and is rumored to have his own Clintonesque issues, which could be why he is no longer in serious contention for the veepship, knows it, and is issuing disclaimers about his lack of interest.
Of all the governors mentioned, though, Richardson would be the most qualified because of his service as congressman, U.N. Ambassador, and cabinet member.
But governors are never picked for vice president -- the last one was Spiro Agnew, and look how well that turned out -- for the precise lack of national security and foreign policy credential that Kerry rightly is said to consider paramount.
Also, David Thomson is onto something concerning national leaders' looks: Who was the last president or vice president, in the age of TV, who was obese? James Carville even had the temerity to advise Richardson to "lose weight" several months ago, and Richardson did look to be slimming down in 1999-2000, when he was angling to be Gore's number two.
The fact that Atkins and South Beach are not on the New Mexican's diet might just tell you how much of a shot he really believes he has.
And even without all this baggage, no one outside of the punditry and its followers know who Richardson is (or that he is Mexican-American). So that casts doubt on what Richardson could do nationally. Gore won (barely) New Mexico's handful of EVs last time --and Richardson-is-toNM is not exactly LBJ-is-to-Texas. Arizona is a stretch, probably, and also a small state.
Things are pretty sad for the Democratic veep bench if people are fired up about candidates bringing along one state that should be Democratic picking and another that is the home of Barry Goldwater and John McCain.
Gephardt doesn't even help in the midwest. If that's the calculation then they are sorely mistaken. Edwards would play better in Ohio than Gephardt.
The AP did a poll of Missouri Dem county chairmen and they chose Edwards over their own Gep 11-3. Gep has never even run statewide in Missouri! People in some parts of the state don't even know who he is!posted by: Just Win Baby on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I had forgotten that little dust up. I have to say,though, that there's very little to tar Richardson with here. He wasn't told what was going on by underlings. Sorry -- but that's a one day story on the evening news, quickly forgotten.
And Richardson's resume (Governor, Sec Energy, UN Ambassador, Congress) sounds very good when (i) gas prices are high (ii) our UN relationships stink and (iii) hispanics are a rising part of US population. The slate author you link to may not like him, but I could see why Kertry might.
I have one more important point to add. Robert Rubin likely remains a Democrat only because he believes that the goofy left can ultimately be marginalized. The very moment that Rubin realizes that this may not be the case---He will almost certainly support President Bush!posted by: David Thomson on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I had forgotten that little dust up. I have to say, though, that there's very little to tar Richardson with here. He wasn't told what was going on by underlings. Sorry -- but that's a one day story on the evening news, quickly forgotten.That’s pretty funny actually, that you think any aspect of a national story involving the loss of our nuclear secrets to one of our worst adversaries was merely a “little dust up.” Richardson saying that “[h]e wasn't told what was going on by underlings” is going to play right into Bush-Cheney’s hands whenever Kerry wants to criticize them for any alleged mismanagement of Iraq or the war. It’s also rather hard to criticize Bush for not doing enough to secure Iraqi WMD stockpiles or protect homeland security when you’re running mate is most infamous for not being aware of what was going on under his nose while our nuclear secrets went missing.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I have one more important point to add. Robert Rubin likely remains a Democrat only because he believes that the goofy left can ultimately be marginalized. The very moment that Rubin realizes that this may not be the case---He will almost certainly support President Bush!I doubt it, since the Bush administration told him (and Citibank) to take a hike when he asked them to prop up Enron’s credit rating, I don’t think Robert Rubin is too much of a fan.
Of course if Rubin were picked as the VP nominee, it’s essentially a pass for Bush and Cheney anytime someone wants to bring up Halliburton or Enron.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
You have it - Gephardt doesn't.posted by: Zach on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Read your link. The secrets weren't lost. They were found behind the copying machine. I think you would find most politicians with a lengthy history has crap like this in their background.
Iraq is the centerpiece of this administration for the last two years. If things go wrong there because of policy decisions Bush and Cheyny made regarding staffing, troop strength, gratuitous ally stomping and action before planning, they are more answerable than whether the cabinet officer knew the details of the defects in the security system in one of his offices in the pre 9/11 era.
As for rumors about other things in Richardson's past -- that may be. I don't know, or really care if its the same sort of thing that derailed Jack Ryan. But I can see where Kerry would not want to bring that kind of grief upon himself.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Many politicians crave approval and attention, and hence go into the business in the first place. The need to be in the spotlight and on-stage, as it were (in Jack Ryan's case, with his comely wife), offers psychologists a field day of analysis. But I would really hope that Richardson's "rumors," whatever they may be, are not the kind of thing that derailed Jack Ryan. It's just not a pretty picture.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Robert Rubin supporting Bush? Is there an OxyContin party going on here? Why would Secretary Deficit Hawk support President Drunken Sailor?
If John Kerry wants to look bold (in itself, a dubious attribute - see: Quayle, Dan or Lieberman, Joe), he will have to dive into a very shallow talent pool. Indeed, the reason Kerry is the nominee is that dry lake bed of talent we call the Democratic Party. Kerry's job is unenviable. His best hope is that the tightly managed Bush implodes from external circumstances. Who the veep pick is will ultimately have zero impact.posted by: Walt on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Edwards does that in a way no Democrat other than Clinton (or possibly Clinton) can. It all comes down to political skill, and there ain't no one out there in the running as talented as Johnny Sunshine.
Equating Gephardt and Edwards is like describing the similarities between Coca-Cola and RC Cola; it just misses the larger point.
I'd also suggest that the mild Republican un-dislike of Gephardt in evidence here is similar to the mild un-dislike one finds for Lugar and Hegal on Daily Kos. But Lugar and Hegal are not particularly liked by most Republicans, and I imagine Gephardt is liked even less (especially in comparison to the senior Senator from North Carolina.posted by: SamAm on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Edwards makes Dan Quayle look like Henry Kissinger. A man who doesn't know what the Defense of Marriage Act is when running for President in a debate, then attempts to deflect it by declaring he wasn't in the Senate when it passed, isn't 'single bullet away' material. Were you in the Senate when the Bill of Rights passed Johnny? 'Cause I expect you to know that too...
There are far better choices out there - Evan Bayh, Ed Rendell (PA is in play) - Edwards isn't going to make the South competitive.
And wait until Cheney gets hold of Edwards' Little Lord Fauntleroy in a debate. If you like watching nature films, you'll like the brutality of the VP debate.
Then there's the whole 'trial lawyer' thing, an untapped reserve of political fuel that the GOP is standing next to with a box of matches...posted by: MEC2 on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
And wait until Cheney gets hold of Edwards' Little Lord Fauntleroy in a debate. If you like watching nature films, you'll like the brutality of the VP debate.
That does it for me, I’m sold.
BTW: has anyone noticed that Daniel Drezner has still avoided the central question for his tacit support of John Edwards?
Just out of curiosity, how do you square giving Edwards a pass on his far more protectionist record than Bush while pillorying the POTUS over steel tariffs for the last several months? Is there an actual rationale for it or is this just a double-standard?
Read your link. The secrets weren't lost. They were found behind the copying machine. I think you would find most politicians with a lengthy history has crap like this in their background.Doesn’t matter since it became the defining moment of Bill Richardson’s tenure as Secretary of Energy. And yes “crap like this” is exactly what will be hung around the neck of a Kerry-Richardson ticket whenever they try to complain about mismanagement or a lack of attention to detail on the part of Bush-Cheney.
Iraq is the centerpiece of this administration for the last two years. If things go wrong there because of policy decisions Bush and Cheyny made regarding staffing, troop strength, gratuitous ally stomping and action before planning, they are more answerable than whether the cabinet officer knew the details of the defects in the security system in one of his offices in the pre 9/11 era.Keep telling yourself that. Bottom line: with Richardson on the ticket, Bush and Cheney have a living, breathing reminder for the voters that the prior administration didn’t care enough about national security issues enough to bother protecting our nuclear secrets or even bother to learn what was going on under their noses. Trying to say it was “pre 9/11” only reinforces the (rightful) perception that Democrats are simply not serious about national security and don’t get that things have changed post-9/11.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Most of us, including the current administration, were not terribly serious about security matters before 9/11. I think the American people recognize that, and are fairly forgiving of pre 9/11 security mistakes made by both parties. (See Clarke, Richard, Deserved Rapid Descent into Obscurity of). Making hay of this particular issue just would not get very far, unless there was significant unreported information of the type that would interest the press. And even then, that would just bring into play all of Bush's pre 9/11 stuff (See Clarke, Richard, Grotesque Frankenstein Like Reanimation of.)
Whether the Democrats "get it" post 9/11 is going to be one of the debates of the campaign, no matter who is nominated. I don't think Richardson hinders that, but then, if I were so smart, I'd be Karl Rove.
And, btw, with the B-C record in Iraq, paistakingly detailed on this blog, they'd be well advised not to worry too much about the Veep candidate's alleged management lapse. There's just too much mud to go around.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Edwards might be the VP choice. He isn't probably the best choice, but hell, this election is all about the lesser of 2 evils anyway. If Kerry does what most expect him to and picks a VP that will have weight in carrying swing states, it's not going to be Edwards or Gephardt. It's going to be Evan Bayh (Bahy? however you spell his name.)posted by: flaime on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
From what I remember, practically all of the spying in the DoE occurred before Richardson took over. Most of the blame was probably the DoJ/FBI (bipartisan), which was slow to investigate and then could not built a case against Wen Ho lee (that was thrown out by a Republican Federal Judge).
How much of an issue would it be ? Limbaugh & Co. would certainly beat on it heavily, mainstream press would bring it up. But I certainly do not believe it would lead to Kerry relinquishign the national security issue, since the failures on the Bush watch have been pretty serious too.
The political reason for Bill R. is not New Mexico, which Kerry will probably pick up. The issue is conceivably Nevada or Arizona (difficult). Its to shore up NJ and CA, to appeal to Hispanics in Florida, and even in NC and VA. In a close election, that could be crucial.
I have heard rumors that Bill R. may have a Clinton style problem. That would exclude him.
Bob Kerrey is definitely out. He's not going to bring Nebraska, he's a loose cannon, he's probably not interested, his position on the 9/11 panel would be attacked. Also, despite his undoubted courage (one of only 2 of recent Senators to win the Congressional Medal of honor) there is the issue of atrocities against Vietnam civlians that he was accused of. Kerry defended him then, but I can just see how much demagoguery could be expended against him by juxtaposing Kerry;'s 1971 statements with Kerrey's record.
Besides, while war is always a messy business, I;m not sure that America is ready for a VP who hsa been accused (and in a somewhat credible accusation) of war crimes.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Bayh is not going to bring Indiana over, Edwards might bring NC or VA into battle ground territory.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Bayh won't bring Indiana, as you said, but neither will Edwards bring NC. Bayh also won't be chosen because he's a Democratic Senator in a strongly Republican state. The governor is a Republican and would replace him with a Republican. The Democrats would likely lose that seat for a generation if a Kerry-Bayh ticket won the White House.
Besides, Bayh would make for a much better President. I would like to see him run in 2008 and he might even get my vote if he does.
Edwards is a different story. He's articulate and has a shiny disposition, both of which are pluses. His protectionist policies are a big turn-off for me, but might sell well in the Midwest, where the election will be decided.
Gephardt practically has the word boring written all over him. He would drag down the ticket and he has proven that he can't really win anywhere other than his home district. Very poor choice if Kerry is expecting his choice to help on the ticket, though he might be fine as a VP if they win.posted by: Robert Prather on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"Bayh is not going to bring Indiana over, Edwards might bring NC or VA into battle ground territory."
That misses the point. Lieberman was not chosen because he was going to bring Connecticut over; Gore was always going to carry that state. Cheney was not selected for Wyoming’s rich three EVs. Those two recent picks were selected for broader appeal and the potential to tap larger constituencies than mere single states. In Lieberman’s case, it was his moralizing against Clinton’s zipper issues (however annoying and Joe-lier than though it seemed); his appeal to Jewish voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and other battlegrounds; and his centrist credentials. Cheney was seen as a senior statesman at the time who would compensate for W’s thin experience on the world stage (or any stage, really).
eBayh might or might not put Indiana into contention, but his selection could arguably force B/C04 to spend advertising dollars in the expensive Chicago TV market to reach voters in NW Indiana, just as the choice of Edwards would unhappily force Rove to spend resources in the Carolinas, an area he thought was a lock. Bayh’s appeal might be regional: In neighboring Ohio, where voters in border markets already recognize his name from eBayh’s four previous runs for statewide office. In Missouri; and in other Midwestern swing states along the Mississippi.
His bayh-ography is impressive and utterly different from Edwards’s thin accomplishments in office and Edwards’s uber-liberal tilt. (Whoever said “See Edwards” about Bayh has it wrong.) He is the Chair of the centrist DLC, which gives him moderate cred. Unlike Edwards – who had barely organized his desk in the Senate in ’99 before he was flirting with Gore’s vice presidency, the Iowa delegates at the ’00 convention, and then his own campaign for prez – Bayh actually was physically present in the Senate throughout his term there and has a more substantive record as senator to run on. His co-sponsorship of a national service program with John McCain is a sensible and necessary program that’s been endorsed by such conservative thinkers as David Brooks in the New York Times.
He also has executive experience, having served as two-term IN governor and Secretary of State. Indeed, Bayh is Richardson without the baggage, perhaps. A governor (former) with strong D.C. experience.
I think Kerry dropped a strong hint about a month back, or a trial balloon, concerning his thoughts on Bayh. Recall when he said that he would consider appointing judges opposed to Roe v. Wade, then quickly backtracked by saying he meant he’d appoint them only to “lower courts.” That little red balloon (a led zeppelin to the likes of NARAL, which quickly condemned) can be seen as a read on how Bayh – who is not strongly pro-choice – might go over with voters. And if Kerry picks Bayh, it will surely annoy pro-choice voters but might appeal to moderate swing voters (and GOP women) who overwhelmingly support things like parental notification and waiting periods. Certainly the selection of Bayh would establish Kerry as somewhat independent of liberal interest groups’ strangle hold on the party, a plus for attracting middle-road voters. (Is the Planned Parenthood crowd really going to vote for Bush or Nader?)
For those who perhaps rightly think looks matter in a national candidate, check out the photogenic Bayh family: http://bayh.senate.gov/about.html
Another upside: Bayh is hardly Edwards in the smiley charm department. He’s dull and assuring on TV – a plus for Kerry, who does not want to be overshadowed. He gave a disastrous speech to the 19996 Democratic convention, after Hillary engineered his speaking slot for past 11 p.m. so she could appear in prime time. (Hmm. B. Clinton’s speech in ’88 bombed, too.)
A negative: eBayh, like Lieberman and Bentsen before him, is up for re-election to the Senate this year. Unlike Edwards, the race is his to lose. But Lieberman and Bentsen looked too cutesy running their insurance-policy races simultaneously. We know that they went back to the Senate while their national tickets went down in defeat.
posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
You guys are much, much too detailed in your analysis. For cripes sake, 50% of Americans (and 80% of Faux viewers) think Saddam was piloting one of the 9/11 planes.
Edwards comes across as smart, charming, and charismatic. He looks and talks like he might actually have had sex without paying for it. Gephardt doesn't, and frankly, neither does Kerry. We prefer leaders who can get some without having to whip out the Visa.
As far as appearing competent - are you kidding me? You guys are telling me that in 2000 you looked at Bush (his inability to speak English, his lack of any knowledge of basic issues of policy, etc.)and thought "competent"? Jeebus, I hope you guys aren't in charge of hiring where you work. I thought the whole rationale for you guys was that he could surround himself with people to do his actual thinking (don't get mad at me - look back at what his supporters actually said). And, until the last three years, I didn't think that was such a bad argument.
Kerry should just step up and pick the pretty one. And if he doesn't, when he loses (and if he picks Gephardt he will lose), we have to figure out a way to punish him. There has to be an incentive system in place to encourage candidates to put the country and the party before their own wants and desires.posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Robert Prather wrote: "Bayh won't bring Indiana, as you said, but neither will Edwards bring NC. Bayh also won't be chosen because he's a Democratic Senator in a strongly Republican state. The governor is a Republican and would replace him with a Republican. The Democrats would likely lose that seat for a generation if a Kerry-Bayh ticket won the White House."
Incorrect. The governor of Indiana, Joe Kernan, is a Democrat, and there have only been Democratic governors of Indiana since Bayh began the trend in 1988.
There is an election for governor in IN this year, pitting the incumbent (who ascended to office last fall after the governor died suddenly) against former Bush budget guy Mitch Daniels.
I am unclear on whether the sitting governor (D) or the incoming governor (possibly R) would get to appoint a replacement to the U.S. Senate for a hypothetical Vice President-elect Bayh. That replacement might be even more complicated if Bayh won the vice presidency and re-election to his Senate seat, and then relinquished the Senate seat it in time for the lame duck D governor (assming Gov. Kernan loses) to appoint a D to Bayh's seat.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Thorley writes: "Just out of curiosity, how do you square giving Edwards a pass on his far more protectionist record than Bush while pillorying the POTUS over steel tariffs for the last several months? Is there an actual rationale for it or is this just a double-standard?"
Edwards' protectionism isn't contrary to his principles and those of his party. Bush's protectionism *was*.
If you go around talking about free trade, as Bush does, then you enact protectionist policies, you deserve to be smacked around (rhetorically speaking, at least).
You might disagree with Edwards' stance, but at least he's consistent.
The timing of Bayh's resignation and the appointment of his successor would be up to him. His appointed successor would not be able to serve more than two years before standing for election for the balance of Bayh's six-year term.
I actually think Bayh would be Kerry's best choice. I have considerable respect for Gephardt -- his lack of "sex appeal" is not the issue for me that is seems to be for Dan -- but distrust his protectionism. I am mystified as to why anyone would think John Edwards can be a successful President of the United States; all the trouble we have gotten into in foreign affairs alone with two Presidents in a row who had little background in that area, and people want to go down that road again? If Edwards belongs on the Democratic ticket, so does Oprah Winfrey.
Bayh on the other hand is a safe choice, someone who will do a modest amount of good and no harm to Kerry's campaign (which is all any running mate can do), will be content with the role Kerry would give him as Vice President (which will not be the role Cheney has now or anything close to it), and is young enough to contemplate succeeding Kerry if his administration is successful. Also I have some limited personal experience that suggests Bayh is a reasonable guy who takes public service seriously. It's not too soon for Kerry to start looking to fill his administration with people like that.posted by: Zathras on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
According to Drudge today, the VP choice is Hillary - if so, GWB will not have to worry about energizing his base. http://www.drudgereport.com/kerryhrc.htmposted by: notfadeaway on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Hillary. Uh huh...
Kerry will not pick someone who overshadows him, particularly someone whose husband also overshadows him.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Not a chance that it'll be Hillary. Kerry has no need at all to pick someone with such baggage. He has raised funds pretty well, and he has NY already.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Forgot to add Re: Hillary -- is she now going to run off to Africa ?posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Incorrect. The governor of Indiana, Joe Kernan, is a Democrat
Ouch. That's what I get for going from memory (and a flawed memory at that). I also based that statement on another person's statement as well. Thanks for the correction.
With that kind of uncertainty, Bayh might be a good choice for Kerry, though I still think he would make a far better President than Kerry and I would rather see him run for President in 2008. As much as I like Bayh, it wouldn't be enough to throw my vote for Kerry.
Bayh at the top of the ticket would be enough. I've seen him several times and he isn't eloquent but he is articulate and he doesn't drone on like Kerry.
Again, thanks for the correction and maybe I'll learn not to go from memory in the future.posted by: Robert Prather on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Jon Juzlak, Tallan, Devin, and Mike G. all put forth Richardson, some noting how he doesn't really want the job.
For the record, Lakeside Pundit, all I said was that Richardson fit the profile of the kind of person who would help Kerry most-- a governor, not a Washington insider. And there are damn few Democrats who fit that besides Richardson (Tom Vilsack I guess being the main obvious one).
But governors are never picked for vice president -- the last one was Spiro Agnew, and look how well that turned out -- for the precise lack of national security and foreign policy credential that Kerry rightly is said to consider paramount.
Let's analyze that, shall we? Why, for instance, might Governor Bush, Governor Clinton, Governor Dukakis, Governor Reagan, and Governor Carter not have picked a governor to run with them? Mmm... maybe if the TOP half of the ticket has national security/foreign policy cred, it's not a prerequisite for the bottom any more?
(Whoever said “See Edwards” about Bayh has it wrong.)
Again, LP, you're missin' what I'm actually sayin'... that comment was clearly in the context of, a young vibrant VP only makes Kerry look that much more like Treebeard telling the history of the Ents. In that sense, Bayh indeed =Edwards. That said, I completely agree with you that the geographical argument for VP selection is basically nonsense and has been for decades. (It's true only in the sense that the South, say, isn't exactly won over by a nasal-voiced rabbi from Connecticut...)
One thing I will say about Bayh, however-- I live in Chicago and nobody here ever heard of Bayh. If he was really the wonder you say, you think we'd have noticed him by now, we're not entirely oblivious to the states around us, even if we are a big city.
In response to various other things:
Then there's the whole 'trial lawyer' thing, an untapped reserve of political fuel that the GOP is standing next to with a box of matches...
The GOP always says that they know how to demonize trial lawyers in an election. They have yet to actually do it, and meanwhile people line up for movies like Erin Brockovich about the heroic lawyer for the little guys. There could be hardly be a more perfect background for a Dem politician, I look at Edwards and wonder why EVERY successful trial lawyer in America isn't running for the Senate.
You guys are telling me that in 2000 you looked at Bush (his inability to speak English, his lack of any knowledge of basic issues of policy, etc.)and thought "competent"? Jeebus, I hope you guys aren't in charge of hiring where you work.
Don't worry, no one is ever responsible for hiring a guy like Bush. They inherit the family business....
posted by: Mike G on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Jon H wrote:
Edwards' protectionism isn't contrary to his principles and those of his party. Bush's protectionism *was*.Err no, Bush campaigned on opening markets and enforcing America’s laws against unfair trade practices and he’s done or tried to do both. You might disagree with his decision to use anti-dumping laws or you might (as I do) think such laws are a bad idea, but Bush’s decision was perfectly consistent with what he campaigned on.
On the other hand though, it is inconsistent for someone like Daniel Drezner who has spent the last several months complaining about Bush’s supposed “protectionism” to now say he’s considering voting for a candidate that is demonstrably more protectionist.
posted by: Thorley Winston on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Forgive for injecting a note of reality into this
He is such a remarkable politician that he can't
Now he MAY become as great a politician as
But Edwards in NOT CURRENTLY a great politician.posted by: pragmatist on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
It's been decided. Hillary is the VP choice.
This is brilliant strategy for Kerry, since he automatically gets women and minority voters that he could never attract on his own merits.
Hillary also brings to aura of Bill along with her. Nothing would unite the democratic party better than a Hillary VP candidacy.posted by: James Johnson on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
(1) "For the record, Lakeside Pundit, all I said was that Richardson fit the profile of the kind of person who would help Kerry most-- a governor, not a Washington insider."
The premise that a governor helps a senator as running mate is arguable, though. (Hard to say that it's wrong, of course.) To the extent vice presidential choices matter at all other than the first rule of "doing no harm," having someone whose total executive experience is in Des Moines does not reassure pundits or voters that the individual is necessarily prepared to assume the presidency in a heartbeat. Then there's history: The all-D.C. ticket is a staple: Bush/Quayle; Mondale/Ferraro; Carter/Mondale; Ford/Dole; McGovern/Shriver (Eagleton); Humphrey/Muskie; Goldwater/Miller; Johnson/Humphrey; Kennedy/LBJ; Nixon/Lodge. Fewer than half these tickets won, true. But correlation is not causation.
(2) “Let's analyze that, shall we? Why, for instance, might Governor Bush, Governor Clinton, Governor Dukakis, Governor Reagan, and Governor Carter not have picked a governor to run with them? Mmm... maybe if the TOP half of the ticket has national security/foreign policy cred, it's not a prerequisite for the bottom any more?”
Maybe, maybe not. But the logic of that assertion is flawed. It does not follow that since governors don’t pick fellow governors that senators and vice presidents should therefore pick governors. My point about governors as running mates is that they make non-ideal running mates regardless of who leads the ticket. The top half of the gubernatorially-led tickets cited above, the statement implies correctly, did not pick other state executives because the top guys’ resumes all lacked foreign policy and national security experience. For Governor Dukakis, say, to have chosen Governor Blanchard as his running mate in 1988 would only have served to further highlight Dukakis’s thin knowledge of world affairs and know-how of the way Washington and Congress operate. (We would have gotten that tank commercial a lot more, too.) It’s beyond dispute that John Kerry believes he possesses the requisite experience and knowledge about Washington and the world so that he need not turn to a recognized foreign affairs hand. It does not follow that he should therefore put someone with no experience in world affairs “a heartbeat away,” given the possibility of his own death or incapacity in office. Nine of 42 presidents have been succeeded by their vice presidents. Kerry has had health problems. We live in a post 9/11 world. Gubernatorial experience alone is not a requisite for the vice presidency and possibly even the presidency at this time. (Sorry Jeb.)
(3) “Again, LP, you're missin' what I'm actually sayin'... that comment was clearly in the context of, a young vibrant VP only makes Kerry look that much more like Treebeard telling the history of the Ents. In that sense, Bayh indeed =Edwards.”
I did not miss what you are saying in the least. I dispute your presumption that youth = vibrancy. If you have ever watched or heard Bayh speak (and you note that you don’t even know who he is), you might recognize that my point was that Bayh is the anti-Edwards in terms of overshadowing (in Edwards’s case, oversunshining?) Kerry.
(4) “One thing I will say about Bayh, however-- I live in Chicago and nobody here ever heard of Bayh. If he was really the wonder you say, you think we'd have noticed him by now, we're not entirely oblivious to the states around us, even if we are a big city.”
You’ve never heard of him and you live in Chicago. I live in Chicago and have heard a lot about him. QED … nada. People follow politics to varying degrees, of course. I’ve been interested in Bayh’s career since he was a young man running for governor in next door Indiana. Maybe you know more about the line up of Michigan’s legislature. Who knows? In national polls out yesterday, Bayh’s favorability as veep was respectable. So, people polled seem to know who he is.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
58% of those polled were satisfied or enthusiastic about Evan Bayh as Kerry’s running mate.
(CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of 1,005 adults – presumably including people in Chicago -- by telephone June 21-23, 2004, +/- 3% sampling error).
What surprises me is that for Mr. Drezner, the VP selection could break his interest in voting Democratic. It appears that his VP protest is based on his policy convictions and the personal appeal of the VP candidate.
But would a Kerry/Edwards administration govern differently than a Kerry/Gephardt administration? I don't see much reason to think so, beyond a more handsome and articulate Vice President raising money and representing Kerry at events he cannot attend.
Is charm going to decide the election?
On another note, I think Edwards' six-year term was largely a blank slate. Late in the decisive primaries, he emphasized his protectionist credentials. Indeed, he voted against free trade with Singapore and Chile so that he might differentiate himself with Kerry once it became the "two-man race" Edwards clearly wanted to run. Unfortunately, a few thousand votes in Oklahoma and New Hampshire left General Clark in his way too long for Edwards to really brand himself a protectionist, and I think Edwards could be a Clintonian free and fair trade man in no time. And Gephardt, with his long ties to the unions, could be the reward for putting up with a more free-trade Kerry.posted by: michael on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Haven't all you nay-sayers heard by now?
Hillary is a hawk, too.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I rather like Hillary and would prefer that she were the presidential nominee. But I have yet to see a man with the oversized ego it takes to be president select a veep candidate that overshadowns them. Hillary and her ex-president book-writing husband will crowd out Kerry because, all of a sudden, it won't occur to anyone to care what he thinks.
Remember the 1980 GOP convention, when everyone thought the VEEP would be Gerald Ford? This is what we have here.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Hillary would make this presidential year historic. She brings the national and cross-party appeal that no other VP candidate could bring.
You other candidates are boring.posted by: James Johnson on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Three big problems with Gephardt that Edwards doesn't have: (1) Gep underperformed expectations in Iowa, badly. His appeal in a state bordering Missouri was minimal. (2) It would look like a payoff for his kamikaze ad campaign against Howard Dean, successful as that was. (3) The 2002 midterm elections, where failure to hold the party together against Bush/Rove's clever divide and conquer strategy (Homeland Security and Iraq War resolution) mark him as a loser.posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Hillary has no cross-party appeal. She appeals very strongly to some people largely on the Demo wing, is detested as strongly by people on the other side. While I actually like her, I see ZERO possibility of a ticket with her winning, and I see no reason why Kerry would select her. He already has the liberals vote and if he gets Edwards, he'll get the women's vote too.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
If nothing else, Edwards is a for-real talent in the 'trial lawyer' sense, and anybody that thinks Cheney wouldn't get overrun by him should check out how many VP debates the R's will agree to should Kerry pick him as running mate.
We're not talking about pretty talk here, we're talking about experienced, talented defense lawyers getting their heads handed to them on a range of substantive issues. Over and over, to the point that Edwards could scare out a settlement from big guys. Re: his trial lawyer career as well, it helped then (and now) that he took real cases with real damage, and can point at those cases now to the extent that only those who just hate 'trial lawyers' will perceive it as a downside.
His career also required being a very, very quick study, and he's as good at it as you'll ever find. I guarantee you that, after the Defense of Marriage stumble that by the next night Edwards knew more about DoM, and could have mopped the floow with most of his peers in a debate about it.
Seriously, for all the thin resume and all that, the guy has some serious chops. And would crush the fearsome Cheney, both in debate and the long range tit for tat that will inevitably become part of the campaign.
Talent matters ... it ain't everything, but it matters.posted by: Bill Skeels on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
You said: anybody that thinks Cheney wouldn't get overrun by him should check out how many VP debates the R's will agree to should Kerry pick him as running mate.
They have already decided on the number of debates and locations. There will be just one VP debate as last time. If they use the same format that Cheney and Lieberman used last time -- a conference table -- then Edwards would lose much of his ability to preen and posture. If they use an open floor -- as in at least one of the Presidential debates in 2000 -- Edwards would be at an obvious advantage.
Don't be so sure that Cheney wouldn't defuse Edwards. He did very well against Lieberman and has a good command of the facts.posted by: Robert Prather on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I should also add that the Democrats have done such a thorough job of demonizing Cheney in the last couple of years that all he'll have to do is come across as something other than Satan and he can plausibly claim a win. The Leahy incident notwithstanding, Cheney is a fairly sedate guy and I doubt Edwards can get him riled up on television.posted by: Robert Prather on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
LP-- so Bayh's virtue is that he's at least as boring as Kerry? Woohoo! I'm electrified by the prospect! Not since William Miller... Sorry, I think a painfully boring candidate like Kerry is by definition screwed either way-- either his VP makes him look like he was born AS a log cabin, or else his VP is such a nothing that he helps make both of them that much more ignorable. By gum, it wasn't easy for the Dems to come up with candidates with less wattage than George W. "The quieter Clint Eastwood" Bush and Dick "Alfred the Butler" Cheney, but they seem to be in the process of rising to the challenge...
Personally, although I remain skeptical of Edwards' ability-- he should have won more than one primary if he was so all-fired wonderful-- if I were Kerry I'd feel doomed enough already that I'd say what the hell and pick him, just because he offers more POSSIBILITY of being able to light up the race. Even if the odds are 2 to 1 against it happening, that beats the guys (like Gephardt) for whom it's obviously an impossibility.posted by: Mike G on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
That Drudge Report article is not particularly believable. When the central thesis is that the Democrats want Hillary because they're planning to make health care a major issue, you can tell this isn't a well-thought out analysis. The issues in the 2004 campaign will be Iraq, terrorism, the economy, Iraq, terrorism, and Iraq.posted by: Devin McCullen on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Jon Juzlak and others:
It's always hard to tell tone in e-mail and Internet postings, but I think Mr. Johnson's enthusiastic (read: my sarcasm here) embrace of Hillary is meant as mockery of the Drudge posting and breathless response to it.
It's just a hunch, but the give-away is in his name, James (Jim) Johnson:
If you are a real Jim Johnson, Mr. Johnson, and your enthusiasm for the Hilldabeast is real, then accept my apologies. But it's still pretty funny.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"[S]o Bayh's virtue is that he's at least as boring as Kerry? Woohoo! I'm electrified by the prospect! Not since William Miller... Sorry, I think a painfully boring candidate like Kerry is by definition screwed either way ...." -- Mike G.
I'm not sure that "entertainment value" is the sine qua non of vice presidential or presidential selection. If you want fun, laughs, drama, suspense ... go see "Spiderman 2" or "The Bourne Supremacy." If you want Oprah-esque confession, Fredian conflict, false honesty, and narcissistic nazel-gazing, read Bill or Hill's doorstops -- or put them on the ticket.
The obsession with candidates having to be fun, light, witty, bright, and engaging all the time is a particularly American obsession that stems from out celebrity-saturated culture, an attention span that resembles that of rabbits, and absence of a parliamentary system of democracy.
Sorry, we're not talking here about who is going to be sitting in the chair next to Letterman for a four-year engagement, or who's going to provide the best material on the Daily Show. There's something fundamentally more important than the shallow quality of "exciting" at stake.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Dear Source for Leak to Drudge re: Hillary (or John Kerry's Jim Johnson):
How very clever of you, just as the clamoring for a shotgun wedding to Edwards grows even louder, for you to change the subject to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Everyone and their uncles seem to be on the Edwards bandwagon: the press; Democratic office holders; Bob Shrum; a majority of the Democratic county chairmen surveyed in Gephardt's backyard of Missouri; Ralph Nader; the trial lawyer monolith; a poll of over 1000 voters by CNN/USA Today; etc., etc.
When Kerry selects someone other than Edwards and disappoints or even angers the pressure groups so eager for Johnny E. to be the #2, the sidebar story in the New York Times and Newsweek -- if not the subtext to the main story on Kerry's choice -- was going to have to address why Kerry did not do what was expected of him. The operating assumption right now is that only Edwards will do. If Kerry doesn't agree, then he has not met the burden of proof that's been set out for him.
Brilliant, then, to shift the focus, the gossip, and the attention to HRC. She's not going to get the nod, either, but by moving the journalistic pack's salivating hunger in her direction, you have knocked Edwards down several pegs to mere mortal status while giving a nod -- a bare one, to be sure -- to Bill and Hill's own ambitions. You're going to need them on the campaign, or at least to be more visibly neutral than last spring, when Bill announced on the eve of the primaries that the party had two rising stars: Hillary and Wes Clark. The Clinton plan to elevate Wes as stalking horse didn't work out, and, sure, it ticked off JFK.
So a little payback is in order ... nothing too serious or harmful, of course. Just a little insincere bolstering of HRC's profile even further, keeping the women's groups, and labor, and the enviros, and the minority groups all in thrall; letting Hill think she can take it to the bank that she looked like a real finalist for the second spot when she gears up for her own run in '08 or '12; and then -- this is best -- with the infinite grace and skill of a trained assassain, setting her up for a bit of a fall herself as Kerry elevates to Democratic stardom the vice presidential nominee who will be HRC's most serious competition for the nomination in four or eight years.
A masterstroke.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
I'm not sure that "entertainment value" is the sine qua non of vice presidential or presidential selection... The obsession with candidates having to be fun, light, witty, bright, and engaging all the time is a particularly American obsession
It is not trivial to think that a candidate who cannot communicate his platform in a vital manner to the electorate is a candidate who will be ineffective in his dealings with Congress, the world, etc. The president does not sit behind a desk pressing buttons. He is not a mere technician and the country a machine. I grant that glibness and sheer handsomeness are overweighted attributes, and yet the great presidents are the ones in whom style WAS content: Washington establishing the tone for a democracy with his personal gravity and probity; Lincoln with his astonishing ability to turn moral argument into a form of homespun poetry; FDR keeping fascism at bay with sheer bonhomie, etc. A president who is bright but can't communicate his ideas shouldn't be president, he should work for one.posted by: Mike G on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Nice idea (that its all a feint), but that supposes a level of subtlety among the Kerry campaign that is unlikely.
Me, I've decided. I want to build my own VP from existing Democratic material:
I want someone with the personal charm of Bill Clinton, the good looks of Edwards, the personal wealth of John Kerry, the rags-to-riches background of Bill Clinton, the personal morals of Jimmy Carter (who would feel guilty about occasionally lusting for other women), the Florida background of Bob Graham, the centrist policies of Bayh, the pro-gun policy of Howard Dean, the military record of Bob Kerrey (minus atrocities), the fund-raising ability of Bill Clinton, the policy wonkishness of Bill Clinton, the political agility of Bill Clinton.
Someone like that would probably make a good President too, come to think of it.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
No way Kerry picks Edwards. He would never pick a guy who might outshine him. This is Kerry's moment. He will pick Gephardt. Here is exactly why he will pick that loser.posted by: brian on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
HILLARY ON THE TICKET MEANS A GOP SENATE
For the four people out there who believe that Kerry might actually pick Hillary (and the two who think that's a good thing), here's a serious realpolitik reason why the Democrats will risk no such thing: A President Kerry and Vice President Rodham Clinton mean that the U.S. Senate will have two more GOP members.
Right now, the Democrats believe -- perhaps a bit optimistically -- that they are within striking distance of recapturing the Senate this year. Hillary on the ticket means a Republican governor appoints her replacement should the Democrats win the White House. (Same result with Bob Graham and Bill Nelson of Florida, Blanche Lambert Lincoln of Arkansas, or Dianne Feinstein of California on the ticket.) Even seasoned Republican political writers like Fred Barnes of the National Standard think the Democrats have a shot at the Senate this year:
Kerry's victory means Romney appoints his successor (unless machinating Democrats in Boston get their way to change state law on succession and ensure that the Kerry seat is empty for months on end). The Democrats aren't going to double down with Hillary if Senate majorityship is something they taste.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Standing or sitting, Edwards will smoke Cheney. Seriously, the guys ability is not just as a good public speaker, but in the give and take of trial lawyering, and he was/is simply great at it. And that includes the give and take at a distance of 'pretrial', ie, all the long distance stuff.
Not saying he doesn't have flaws as a candidate, and a mighty thin resume, but his ability to communicate a point, think quickly on his feet and think strategically are quite something.posted by: Bill Skeels on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"Standing or sitting, Edwards will smoke Cheney. Seriously, the guys ability is not just as a good public speaker, but in the give and take of trial lawyering, and he was/is simply great at it."
If so, why couldn't he pummel Kerry in the final debates during the primaries? And I don't believe for a second that Edwards was holding back to make himself a more attractive VP pick for Kerry. The guy would have pulled out several weeks before if he hadn't believed he could pull off an upset.
Standing or sitting, Edwards will smoke Cheney. Seriously, the guys ability is not just as a good public speaker, but in the give and take of trial lawyering, and he was/is simply great at it.
If these factors were of major concern, George W. Bush, arguably a lame public speaker, wouldn't be in what the leftist papers are calling a dead heat with Kerry.
Perhaps it's what they're saying, instead of how it's being said, huh?
Let's stipulate for argument's sake that Edwards is a talented campaigner, OK?
What just about everyone still is missing is this: (a) Kerry does not think Edwards is prepared for the presidency; (b) Kerry does not think Edwards will help him in N. Carolina; (c) Kerry is not close to / does not feel comfortable with Edwards.
I know, I know, Edwards in a dream scenario helps in rural Iowa counties and brings over independents. It's speculative.
We can debate all we want here how attractive or not Edwards is and whether his protectionism is more protectionist than Gephardt's, or just a late-in-the-play costume change he was trying on in the primaries.
Doesn't matter what the junior punditry here thinks. Kerry doesn't think much of Edwards and therefore isn't picking him.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Perhaps it's what they're saying, instead of how it's being said, huh?"
In my view, Edwards is not just a good speaker. Don't get me wrong, I think he's very smart but not a genius. But he brings three things from his trial lawyer days: the ability to speak well and engagingly, the ability to react quickly and think stratetically on his feet, and the ability to learn the key elements of a subject extremely quickly.
I think Edwards is in way too much of a hurry, and wish he'd kept the Senate seat (which he would have won in a walk against Richard Burr, the stiff the R's are running for the seat ... heck, Erskine Bowles is taking the guy to the cleaners). It's well known that he showed no interest in public policy prior to starting his political career (including famously only voting 1/2 the time). But he wasn't just 'a trial lawyer', he was pretty much the Michael Jordan of trial lawyers, and he does bring those talents to the table.posted by: Bill Skeels on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Joe Biden would be a GREAT choice. To see him and Dick "go f*ck yourself" Cheney go at it would be classic.posted by: Kobe Berg on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Rachel writes: "If so, why couldn't he pummel Kerry in the final debates during the primaries?"
Probably because they weren't 1-on-1 debates, and "pummeling" an opponent wasn't a high priority.posted by: Jon H on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Kerry doesn't think much of Edwards and therefore isn't picking him.
You know, the way JFK didn't pick LBJ.posted by: Mike G on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"Kerry doesn't think much of Edwards and therefore isn't picking him. (Comment)
You know, the way JFK didn't pick LBJ. (Response)"
History shows what a splendid relationship that was and how well the Vice President got on with the President's staff as well as the Attorney General and other notables. It's a model for presidential staff selection and a management case that's no doubt taught at B- and P- schools.
Also: Dead people, even if they vote in Texas these days, vote Republican, not for "Landslide Lyndon."
Query: How do so many politico scientists "know" that LBJ is the only case of a veep selection helping the ticket carry a state? It's not as if they can do a "but for" comparison and see how the presidential candidate does by himself in the state. And it's not as if dead people in Texas in 1960 only would have gone for JFK-LBJ and not JFK himself.
I know this is late in the thread, and maybe Dan can pick up this issue in a separate post.
Does it strike anyone else as strange that a Democratic Party wholly dependent on 90+% support and a big turnout from black voters should have a nominee whose short (or long) list of potential Vice Presidents includes not one black man?
I've read through this entire thread (OK, more skimmed than read) and it seems no one else is thinking in terms of an African-American running mate for John Kerry either. I'm not beating the drum for anyone in particular (and I'm a Republican anyway), but for months now I've had this nagging thought:
There are over 30 million African Americans in this country. African Americans run large corporations, command infantry divisions, win Nobel prizes and in Republican though not Democratic administrations preside over major Cabinet departments. Yet when the time comes to choose a President of the United States the best black America has to offer is....Al Sharpton?
This can't be right. It's probably unfair to cite Josh Marshall, who went into full campaign mode about a year ago, but some time ago he posted a couple of times on the snide theme that Republicans somehow don't see black voters as "real" voters (because, as I understood him, the GOP is always pointing out that without a nearly unanimous black vote for Democratic candidates Democrats would lose most elections). Excuse me? If that's what Republicans think, what do Democrats think? What does John Kerry think?
And what must African American Democrats think when they read posts that endorse someone like John Edwards for Vice President because (as near as I can make out) he is the kind of guy the poster would like to have sex with (If the poster were not a guy. Maybe)? Probably their first thought is similar to mine -- ick! -- but their second thought might be that there are a lot of white Democrats who are taking the black vote for granted. And they would be absolutely right to think that.
So how will John Kerry respond? Will anyone ask him to? It may be that white liberal Democrats are just not ready for a black man on the national ticket; I admit that may be unfair but I sure don't hear many of them endorsing the idea. At least not this year, when they could put a personal injury lawyer with a nice smile on the ticket, or a former President's wife!posted by: Zathras on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
The Boston Globe is today reporting that Joe Biden and Sam Nunn are finalists in the veepstakes, according to Kerry's own purveyors of information and disinformation.
(Registration is annoyingly required, methinks.)
IMHO, I think the mention of Biden is just a senatorial courtesy. JFK and Biden are close, and Biden (by his own immodest bragging in the NYT this month) confers directly with Kerry on a day-to-day basis on world affairs. More realistically: Joe is biden' his time for a post as Secretary of State in a Kerry Administration (sorry, Holbrooke; you in the second term, maybe).
Second to Nunn? Could be. It will and ought to send Kerry's gay and lesbian backers into a tizzy. Nunn is the guy who basically inhibited the Clintonistas from doing away with the military's ban on gay and lesbian service people, resulting in the dreadful "Don't Ask Don't Tell." Nunn was also reputed to have a policy in his Senate office of not hiring any homosexuals. If it's Nunn of the above, it will be interesting watching a very ticked-off Democratic fundraising and vote-giving source hold their noses and tongues for the sake of party unity, or, perhaps, emitting a primal scream of "How could you?"posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"Does it strike anyone else as strange that a Democratic Party wholly dependent on 90+% support and a big turnout from black voters should have a nominee whose short (or long) list of potential Vice Presidents includes not one black man?"
Many lists of potential vice presidential candidates have contained the names of Franklin Raines, the Chairman of Fannie Mae (he also served in Clinton's cabinet), and Georgia Congressman (and civil rights stalwart) John Lewis.
Whether they made it far or at all into Kerry's search is anyone's guess.
Problem is, there is not really a very deep bench of national African American leadership that forms the basis for the usual feeders to the national ticket. There are no black governors and no black senators at this moment. Fannie Mae chairmen and controversial congressmen are generally not serious veep contenders.
While the current absence of names is a disappointment, have patience. Here in Illinois, we are about to elect a national star to the U.S. Senate -- Barrack Obama. He will get prominent play at the convention later this month (perhaps even the keynote address), and when he wins his seat, he will instantaneously be seen as a viable candidate for higher office.
And because he is bright, articulate, attractive, and savvy, he is likely to end up as vice president, president, or both some day.
Unlike his recent competition, Jack Ryan, who was forced from the race for his racy divorce records, Obama is thought to be squeaky clean. Prompting some wags to say no to the question: Obama sin laden?posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Oh, come on, LP. Whose lists? Street and Smith's? Are they associated with John Kerry in any way? Or were they just put together by some dopey Internet pundit trying to cover all the bases? I saw one such list that had on it the name of John Glenn, a man well into his 80s.
I've also read the stories about Barack Obama, who seems to have a real talent for attracting opponents with serious marital difficulties in their pasts, but who apart from that does not appear to have accomplished all that much as yet. I'll accept for now the idea that some people will think just getting elected to the Senate makes him a potential Presidential candidate -- some people thought that about John Edwards, too, after all.
My question is: why do you think answering the question about why no African Americans are being considered for the Democratic ticket the same way it might have been answered in any election for the last century should be good enough? I don't think saying that this Obama fellow is great, and different from all other black leaders, and by the way is still married to the same woman really addresses the issue.posted by: Zathras on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Richardson -- recognizing that he was never going to be picked -- doth protest the loudest: he has written to Kerry saying not to pick him: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=12&u=/ap/20040702/ap_on_el_pr/richardson_kerry
"My question is: why do you think answering the question about why no African Americans are being considered for the Democratic ticket the same way it might have been answered in any election for the last century should be good enough?"
It's a thoughtful and serious question in this room of armchair pundits -- and a tough one -- but let's see if I understand. I'm think you're saying: (1) Vice presidential running mates have for many years come from the ranks of senators, governors, congress people (rarely), and the cabinet. (2) There have been no African American vice presidential candidates ever. (3) On the basis of (1), why aren't there more African American senators, governors, congress people, and cabinet members?
The answer, I'm afraid, could fill a book in that it calls for analyzing dozens of statewide races and the career paths of scores of officials across "the last century," as you put it.
But it's an excellent and troubling question. No one will doubt that the dearth of black U.S. senators and governors stems in part from an institutional issue. To date, two black senators were elected after Reconstruction, though a handful have ran credible races recently (in Missouri and North Carolina, for instance). There has been only one black elected governor in U.S. history -- in the cradle of the Commonwealth, Virginia.
"Institutional issue," by the way, is a euphemism for racism. I don't think we can adequately explain the lack of depth in the vice presidential benches without acknowledging that people in many states just have not been ready for African American governors and senators.
Yet you cannot discount the individual variables in all those races. Racism is not everything. The individuals who ran and lost those races may not have been competent candidates (as distinguished from competent office holders at lower levels, which many of them were, such as LA Mayor Tom Bradley [two-time loser for governor] and Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt [double Senate losses]). They may have run bad campaigns. They may have been good candidates and run good campaigns and just lost, which happens to half of all candidates, after all.
I think it's going to change in our lifetimes, and, no, Obama is not quite the second coming.
(Though, while we are on religious imagery, many "experts" with another kind of list believe that the leading candidate to be the next pope is this cardinal from Nigeria: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/48/story_4829.html)
The number of African American elected officials continues to grow. Georgia of all places has scores of black elected officials, including its Attorney General. The Ohio Secretary of State (a Republican) is someone to watch. Obama is going to smash through the glass (opaque?) ceiling, if he can only meet the enormous expectations. Colin Powell gave the Clinton WH the heebie-jeebies in 1995 when he was deified on his own book tour and looked like he was going to run for prez. Condi Rice, until the debacles of Iraq, was beeing touted as a future candidate for national office or a statewide seat in California, and she may still one day be viable. Harold Ford of Tennessee, at 34, looks like he's taken the very long view of his career. Can he win a statewide race in Tennessee? Doug Wilder won a few in Virginia.
I doubt this satisfactorily explains why the answer to the question "Where are they all?" has remained unchanged for many presidential election cycles. I can only say with a mixture of hope and that expected pundit certainty that the past is not prologue in this instance.
As a Floridian who is familiar with Senator (and former Governor) Bob Graham, I believe that Kerry should look no further than Bob Graham for the VP nomination. Not only is he emminently qualified to be President, from his executive experience to his foreign policy expertise, Bob Graham voted against the Iraq War resolution, for all of the right reasons. As one Democrat of many outraged by this resolution, Bob Graham neutralizes John Kerry's weakness on this subject. Most of all, Bob Graham will never loose an election in Florida. 27 electoral votes is more than any other VP candidate can ensure the Democratic nominee. Why look any further?posted by: Charles Jordan on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Bob Graham may be a great guy, but he is the perennial vice presidential also-ran. He was a contender for #2 in 1988; 1992; and 2000. Florida has had the same number of electoral votes in all that time, and he didn't make Dukakis's, Clinton's, or Gore's final cut.
The man is not exactly electrifying on TV, and he ran a thoroughly unimpressive campaign for president in 2004. He made some bizarre statements about national security (see extensively negative coverage in the demi-hawkish The New Republic) in that campaign and lost his credibility on the topic as a result. He's also had heart by-pass surgery (while health issues haven't stopped Cheney, Bush -- unlike Kerry -- has not had major health problems).
Oh yeah, and then there are the infamous and decidedly strange diaries of minutiae. ("Returned the video to Blockbuster at 10 a.m., had a sandwich.")
Florida is thought to be much less in play this year than last time. Where else does Graham appeal? And Kerry does not need another plutocrat on the ticket.
Fourth time won't be the charm for Graham, alas. But one can see him perhaps as attorney general or some other cabinet post.posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
"Kerry's stop [in Indianapolis on Tuesday, July 6] will be historic. 'He will be the first Democratic Presidential candidate to be in Indiana before the election, but for JFK.'"posted by: Lakeside Pundit on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
re: Florida's electoral votes
Actually, Florida picked up two electoral votes in 1992, and picked up two more in 2002.
Graham at the top of the ticket would ensure a lock on Florida, but I'm not sure of the effect he'd have as a VP candidate. In addition, as LP pointed out, Graham nuked his creditability during the campaign.posted by: timekeeper on 06.29.04 at 06:22 PM [permalink]
Would be interesting for Kerry to name not only a VP candidate, but also a Sec'y of State, Defense, Atty Gen ...
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