Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Veepstakes

Tomorrow will apparently be the day that Barack Obama announces his Vice Presidential nominee; John McCain will announce his at the end of the month. The media has speculated for months, from the bland (Evan Bayh) to the unknown (Kathleen Sebelius) to the absurd (Condoleezza Rice) to the ridiculous (Joe Lieberman) to the possibly illegal (the Governator is not a natural born citizen). This is because the media has 24 hours to kill every day and will squeeze the juice out of every story or potential story until it looks like a California raisin. If there is something worthy of coverage in life, the media will make you regret thinking that eventually.

For hundreds of years, the Vice Presidency was a useless office that had little power or significance; this has only changed subtly in the last 70 years and tremendously in the last 25. While there were plenty of presidential deaths, the loss of Franklin Roosevelt as World War II was still in progress shone a spotlight on the Vice Presidency like never before. FDR's first VP, John Nance Garner, described the office as being "not worth a bucket of warm piss." Yet with Democrat insiders knowing that FDR's time was short, FDR changed horses in midstream, discontinuing his association with Henry Wallace in favor of Harry Truman. Despite the fact that Truman (with FDR) and Richard Nixon (with Dwight Eisenhower) were out of the loop as far as presidential affairs during the VP terms, FDR's death made the VP a very important position, something magnified by the death of John F. Kennedy and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Still, it wasn't until the inexperienced Jimmy Carter came to power that the Vice Presidency began its ascendance in terms of actual power. Walter Mondale was the first VP to actually advise the President and be an active member of the Presidential team. This practice has been the standard since, with the exception of Dan Quayle's term (for anybody who thinks that Vice President and former CIA director George H.W. Bush had little influence in the decisions of the Reagan Administration is, The Q has some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you). Al Gore expanded the VP's influence even further, with Lucifer taking it to unprecedented heights during the second Bush administration.

These two things - influence and succession - are especially momentous issues in this campaign. Barack Obama was elected to the US Senate in November 2004, and has been running for President since early 2007; that means that he spent a grand total of two years in Washington honing his Capitol chops. As a Senator and State Senator, he has no executive experience. His VP choice is pivotal. As for John McCain, let's face it: there's a good chance he might expire in office, so his VP needs to be someone who has the qualities to become President at a moment's notice. Obama must satisfy his desire for "change" with someone with executive experience; McCain must counter his "maverick" image with the conservative base and counter his geriatric image with everyone else.

There are perfect candidates for the job; the irony is that none of these candidates want the job. For the Democrats, there is one person who can represent the change that Washington is desperate for and also has loads of executive experience; that person is the only one who would make the hardcore left wet their panties and satisfy Middle America's more moderate tastes: Al Gore. Unfortunately for Obama, Gore is more concerned with trying to save the world from global climate change and encouraging conservation and alternative energies. Being a movie star and a Nobel Prize winner is a lot cooler than VP, no matter how the job has evolved over the years.

For McCain, the two young conservatives with executive experience are the future of the Republican Party: Sarah Palin of Alaska and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. However, because they are the future, they don't want to be chained down to the past. It is extremely difficult for anyone associated with a losing presidential ticket to make a comeback (John Edwards' pitiful performance in the 2008 primaries had nothing to do with him creating future Democratic voters one at a time, every nine months or so); some Democrats who have called for Obama to nominate John Kerry for Veep just want to lose the election right now. Palin and Jindal are intelligent enough to know this and avoid the sinking McCain at all costs. If Grandpa Abe Simpson does manage to win, either one of these two can challenge Mac's VP in 2012 rather successfully (especially if it's a Mormon used car salesman like Mitt Romney, a color-coded pro-choice Tom Ridge, or a closet queen Charlie Crist).

Of course, since The Q is no better than the mainstream media jokers, it's necessary to suggest VPs:

Obama - The Q has often compared Obama to George W. Bush, much to chagrin of about 50% of his audience. This is no time to compromise, so The Q suggests that Obama do the same thing that Bush did eight years ago: pick his VP search team chair. What better way to encourage change (a woman, but one famous enough as to not upset Hillary supporters), satisfy the liberal base, and at the same time dive head first into Middle America's fascination with Camelot than by picking Caroline Kennedy.

McCain - The Q was almost going to suggest Jeb Bush, because there are really no differences between the McCain of 2008 and the Bush Administration, but if Jeb weren't fatally flawed, he'd have been the pawn of the Rumsfelds of the world eight years ago. McCain is looking for someone who can shore up his conservative base, be ready to lead in a time of crisis, and who is well-known but not connected to Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, and the rest of those criminals. Who can satisfy that? Someone who, admittedly, is only seven years younger than Mac - yet Hillary is only eleven years younger. Someone who had a nasty public reputation - but time heals all wounds, and there are no credible, experienced Republicans who don't have a nasty reputation. Someone who has a zipper issue - just like Mac.

McCain/Newt Gingrich '08 - the only team that has a shot against Obama.

If you'll excuse The Q - time to search for the VP nominee for one of the people he might vote for (Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, etc.)

1 comment:

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