Friday, May 9, 2008

Who's the Eleventh Most Influential Jew in All of Brittania and the Veepstakes (JM)

Why, if you said our good buddy Lord Finkelton, you'd be correct. Of course, if you can name one other Jew on the list of most influential Jews in Great Britain, I'd be impressed (Save uberfamous Man U football star Reb Ronaldowitz, obviously he is number one). Anyhow, congrats old friend please use this power wisely.

Now on to Daniel Finkelstein ranks the Veep candidates (which, by the by, will allow me to make some of my own comments on the matter at hand:

So it's Obama. But who's going to fill the second slot on the Democratic ticket?

I am not going to spend much time on this here, but I still wonder why now is the time everyone has decided it’s over. I mean, because Russert said so? Russert says lots of really inane things. The point is that Clinton’s situation is ostensibly no different than it was last week, she is tasked with convincing the automatic delegates that Obama simply can’t win. By the by, ARG has Obama at 23% in West Virginia.

1) Hillary Clinton

Many believe Obama will have to offer the VP slot to Clinton. Andrew Sullivan called it the hate-filled dream ticket. But will she accept it? If Obama loses, she may see a 2012 race opening up before her.

I think ranking Hillary first is both lazy and inaccurate. I agree that she’s on this list somewhere, probably third, but definitely not the most likely choice (she definitely would be, however, if Obama knew she’d turn it down). People have been explaining why this won’t happen for profoundly silly reasons, like she undercuts the message of change. That’s distinctly not why she is unlikely to get the nod. There are two excellent reasons. The first is that there are about 321847908062134609 video clips of Hillary cutting down Obama, this would make for some pretty damaging commercials. The second is simply a matter of Hillary thinks (and probably would be) a far more competent administrator, she would never accept a role as a mere functionary, add Bill Clinton to the mix as Second Laddie and you’ve got a bad situation all together.

2) Al Gore

He's certainly got the experience. But the eco-warrior probably has no desire to return to Pennsylvania Avenue. Winning his endorsement would have set Obama up for the nomination. Does he need Gore any more?

Awww… good times. This is how we met Danny, don’t you recall? You posted about how Al Gore would be an excellent VP for Obama? It was insane then, it is insaner now. If Gore wanted the nomination it was his. Literally, he could have just stood up and said, “Hrmm… excuuuse me, but I think I’d like to be President.” And so it would have been. There is just no reason he’d be Vice President to someone less experienced than him. Let’s all face it, Gore is done with politics, instead it the Earth now.

3) John Edwards

A serious contender. The North Carolina Senator ran with John Kerry in 2004 and would bring the Southern link currently missing in Obama's campaign. But would he want to do it again? And would Obama feel Edwards should have been with him earlier?

Edwards wasn’t a great running mate for Kerry and not a terribly good attack dog. However, this is irrelevant because Edwards has made it quite clear that he has no interest in being the Vice President. He wants to become to poverty, what Gore is to the environment. It’s an odd age we’re starting to see, where politicians are starting to become the leaders of particular causes, I think it’s effective and interesting. Certainly something to talk more about in the coming days, but the chances of this are nil. Thus far, if we were playing Mastermind, Lord Finkelton would have one right in the wrong position.

4) Kathleen Sebelius

Sebelius's name has been cropping up more and more frequently. The two-term Governor of Kansas fills in many of the gaps in Obama's support base. She may not have much foreign policy experience but she'll bring a red state with her. And a female Vice-President might help soothe Clinton's supporters. One to watch.

Alright, is it just me or does the whole Sebelius thing seem like a product of the silly grassroots internets and the punditry? A few things, there is zero statistical evidence that VP candidates from swing or red states bring their states with them. Heck, eight years ago Al Gore lost the presidency because he couldn’t win Tennessee from the President slot, so forget about Kansas. Being a two-term governor of Kansas doesn’t ameliorate any of Obama’s weaknesses, it’s not like California, Texas or New York, where you are essentially the executive of a small country. To say that her response to the State of the Union was a debacle is to put it mildly.

There is, however, a much more salient issue to address here. Having the same gender as Hillary does not pacify the supporters of Hillary Clinton. To suggest that Hillary had female supporters who only cared about her internal organs is to simplify an awfully complex dynamic and, at risk of saying something that is about to make me ill, is slightly misogynistic. I think Hillary’s pro-feminist supports liked her because of her strength, what she could do for the movement and her particular role in history. Dennis and I seems to be big fans of using cutting-edge baseball statistical terms to explaining things, but Hillary’s VORFC (Value of Replacement Female Candidate) is quite high. Simply placing a female on the ticket fixes very little in terms of bringing back the base.

That said, Sebelius belongs on the list because of the buzz, but I wouldn’t put her above many of the candidates yet to be mentioned. On a personal note, this is one of the few pairings that would leave me pause voting Democrat this year.

5) Bill Richardson

Also extremely likely. Pundits state that he's been running for VP since the beginning. He brings foreign policy experience and the Hispanic vote with him.

First of all, awesome analysis. I am not sure how the fifth-ranked person on your list can also be “extremely likely”. Unless, Obama is going to go for a unity ticket and make all the American people Vice President.

Richardson probably has a good shot, I don’t love the idea, but he comes from a winnable swing state, has pull with Hispanic voters and seems to have experience despite appearing to be an eminently silly individual. He’d probably be number two on my likelihood rankings as of right now.

6) Wesley Clark

A former four-star general, Wes Clark served in Kosovo and studied PPE at Oxford. He would lend Obama military clout and cross party-lines in his appeal.

Number six, with a bullet. This is the winner. I think Wesley Clark has a better than thirty percent chance of being the VP nominee. As a hardcore Clinton supporter he helps bridge the divide a bit, he’s obviously credible on issues military and international, he’s smart and is not a Washington insider. In my list of potential VPs, Wesley Clark is first.

7) Jim Webb

The junior Virginia senator since 2006. He could provide the machismo that Obama needs. A military man with a son in Iraq, he's regarded as one of the most authorative Democratic voices on the conflict. Known to carry a loaded pistol on occasion. As a former Reagan man he would add to Obama's cross party appeal and make it slightly harder to paint the candidate as an unrepentant liberal.

I like Webb, though I am often unclear precisely what to make of him. I think this is a non-starter despite his pundit appeal. He’s been in the Senate for far too short an amount of time, he’s a leading voice on some critical issues in the legislature, but most critically he has a strong position for a Senate seat in a weakish state. If the Dems want to continue to control the Senate (and eventually get to the magic number of 60) Webb stays where he is for now. He’s got national politics in his future, just not yet. (Though who knows, that’s what I thought about Obama, that’s what you all should have thought about Obama, I hate you all so much sometimes).

8) Robert Casey

The Pennsylvania senator has already endorsed Obama. As VP, he would help out in the white working-class states. And his Catholic faith would reach out to an important voting bloc.

Now you’re just listing people you’ve read about recently. Casey’s pro-life, it’s a total non-starter in national, Democratic politics. If anyone is coming out of Pennsylvania it’ll be Ed Rendell. I’d love it, we’d all love it. I like to think of Ed Rendell as a funnier version of Gov. Eric Baker (Ed O’Neill’s character from The West Wing). Either way, no chance on Casey.

9) Oprah Winfrey

She's already one of America's most powerful women. Could DC be next on her world-domination agenda? Just a thought.

Was this really a thought? It’s either an unfunny joke or really really supersilly political analysis. Sometimes I cannot tell how far inside your cheek your tongue is Daniel Finkelstein, honestly I cannot. I will tell you this now, I’ll let Obama pick Oprah, if McCain gets to pick Brimley. But I swear to God, if I know anyone who votes against McCain/Brimley we are just never ever talking again.

10) Joe Biden

Might he be the first Biden in a thousand generations to run for President? A senator since 1972, his presidential runs have never taken off. But his international experience might make him a good choice and he'd appeal to the white male vote. His description of Obama as 'clean' didn't do him any favours though. And some think he is more likely to be Secretary of State.

So I honestly don’t get that first question. Does anyone? Seriously. Anyway, Biden should be running for President right now, we all know it. By all I mean me and maybe Dennis. This election would be over already if he’d gotten the nod. I think this is possible, but not super likely, I would suggest maybe fifth or sixth most likely with low odds. He didn’t endorse, which gives him neither loyality or bridge dividing appeal and occasionally he needs to extricate his foot from his mouth. He is, however, brilliant, authoritative and strong in all the areas Obama is weak. He’d be a great choice, just not one I am sure the Obama camp will make.


So all in all it’s not a ridiculous list, no more ridiculous than some of the others I have seen (though there were some crazy bad choices). Congrats again on your hard work being Jewish moderately influential Daniel, we here at AOTG wish you well.

Just in case your interested here are my two sets of Veep Rankings, one for likelihood and one for actually being a good idea:

Likelihood: 1) Wesley Clark; 2) Kathleen Sebelius; 3) Bill Richardson; 4) Hillary Clinton; 5) Tim Kaine; 6) Ed Rendell

Good Idea: 1) Joseph Biden; 2) Wesley Clark; 3) Hillary Clinton; 4) Ed Rendell; 5) Mike Bloomberg

I am hoping this is not just wishful thinking on my part, but I suspect that there is a reasonable chance that Clark ends up being an excellent compromise pick. It’s interesting because last time Clark seriously ran for President I was staunchly opposed. I like to see growth in politics. He has grown well, just as I bet Obama would have been a force to be reckoned with 4-8 years from now. As it is, it’ll be a tough general, a coin flip at this point, but here’s hoping for Obama/Biden or Obama/Clark.

P.S. If it’s Obama/McCaskill I am moving to Korea.

1 comment:

Ted said...

I think Sibelius has more going for her than you think. Yeah there's the gender thing, but she's also the daughter of former Ohio governor Gilligan (hey little buddy!) so she has roots there. I think there's little chance of her bringing blood red Kansas with her, but she could nudge Ohio and other midwest/rust belt states the right way, and she emphasizes the Obama theme of compromise etc. etc. without capitulation. Clark and Biden would be fine choices, too, if Biden can keep his freakin' foot out of his mouth