Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama VP pick preference

So, he's gotta pick somebody (doesn't he?) before the convention starts next Monday... but I don't really feel like reading the tea leaves of his schedule to try and makes guesses at this point. The last few weeks of ginned up faux-controversies has, for the most part, caused me to take a step back from politics and enjoy my summer a bit more as we wait for the rest of the country to start paying attention. They'll do that during/after the national conventions, and that's when I plan on obsessing again... however, since we seem to have a pretty stable list of contenders for the VP slot at this point, I might as well share some thoughts.

The presumed front runners are: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.

A Bayh pick basically doubles down on Obama's strength in the Midwest, and perhaps improves his appeal to more conservative voters. Tim Kaine would be doubling down on "outsider/change", while hopefully helping take Virginia. Biden tries to address Obama's perceived weaknesses in experience and foreign policy, but brings nothing electorally.

None of them excite me, but even a pick of the pretty conservative Bayh wouldn't upset me... so how's that for "meh"? I'm still holding out hope for a dark horse, but I guess Biden is the one I like the most... because he's pretty funny, very intelligent, but has a pretty direct and blunt way of speaking. He's also a clear expert on foreign policy... which might cut against the "inexperienced" meme that has followed Obama around for so long. While I don't like reinforcing the idea that Obama needs to have someone like Biden holding his hand, at least Biden would be a great attack dog whenever McCain and his insane neocon buddies say anything... well... insane. Another interesting angle is "connecting with working class voters"... Biden is from a working class background, and lives very modestly for a Senator... his blunt and direct manner could also help him explain complex economic and foreign policy issues in ways that Average Voter can understand.

There are a couple of problems: the biggest is that every time he opens his mouth, he's risks saying something that makes you shake your head and cover your eyes(i.e. calling Obama "clean and articulate")... and the way 24 hour cable news can focus on slips of the tongue for days at a time, that's a pretty large risk to take (the month of August has only reinforced how silly they are). Another issue is that he is not a "change" pick... he's been a Senator since he was 30, and is pretty much in the pocket of credit card companies (they are his constituents though, to be fair).

I also have been advocating for a younger, more dynamic candidate, who could serve as a successor and future head of the Democratic Party... Tim Kaine is young(50), but not too terribly dynamic from what I can tell... but perhaps it is best to think first of an election that is less than 3 months away? I'm not all that concerned about Obama's inability to pull away (yet), but "better safe than sorry" is not bad advice here. Biden is probably the strongest at shoring up Obama's perceived weaknesses, and I think he is a very good speaker and debater... one of the best if you can reign in his tendency towards being a bit of a windbag(but what Senator doesn't like to hear themselves speak?), and just cross your fingers about gaffes.

I don't know... of the three, he seems to me to have the biggest upside for 2008, but also carries some risks. But then again, the VP pick probably doesn't even make any difference, so the speculation is useless.

Regardless, we should know in a few days who it is.