Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Prediction (Dennis)

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about who exactly Obama’s vice presidential pick will be. Generally, this talk has centered around three names: Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, and Delaware Senator Joe Biden. Unfortunately for those men, none of them are the pick. Consider the evidence:

1.) Campaign Style: The Obama campaign has two hallmarks. For one, it loves dramatic political theater. For another, it strives to keep leaks about critical campaign decisions to minimum. Now, knowing this about the campaign, do you really think we’d get a billion stories from reporters about these characters in the weeks leading up to the selection if any one of them was the pick? Why has Obama been visiting Indiana and Virginia, chatting up both Kaine and Bayh? Why is there “buzz” around Biden? Isn’t it possible, probable even that they are using these people as distractions, while the real favorite improbably stays off the radar and out of the wrenching cable news discussion?

Now let’s think about the “splash” part. Are any of these guys particularly exciting? Sure I would love Biden, but I don’t think an announcement including any of them would exactly set the world on fire. Now, obviously, you’re looking for a good pick and a good surrogate first, and if there weren’t anyone out there who was both exciting and solid pick, I would say it was even money between the three, with Biden the slight favorite because he’s so excellent on the attack and on foreign policy. But isn’t there someone else.... someone who wants to be Vice President, who, unlike the other three, would be disciplined, effective, and an exciting choice?

2.) Location: It seems that Obama has scheduled a big rally on Saturday in Springfield, IL to announce his choice. Now if you were Obama, and you wanted to capture either Indiana or Virginia with your VP pick, wouldn’t you announce your selection of the hometown favorite in either Indiana or Virginia? Particularly with Bayh, wouldn’t announcing a Bayh selection in Springfield be a little like announcing you’ve received Ted Kennedy’s endorsement for Governor of Massachusetts in Yankee Stadium?

I guess that leaves Joe Biden, but if what exactly about Springfield screams “Biden?” If I were going to pick Biden, it would be because I wanted people to know that I’m serious about foreign policy, and I’d select somewhere particularly evocative of that, perhaps an aircraft carrier or even the USS Constitution...somewhere where you could tell an appropriate story as a rationale for the pick. The Old Statehouse in Springfield doesn’t make sense as a place to roll out Biden.

The one person people associate with the Old Statehouse is Lincoln, a person Obama clearly models himself after. He, after all, announced his candidacy from Springfield, and has cited “Team of Rivals,” a biography of Lincoln’s political life, as a key book he would take into the White House.

And in Team of Rivals we get our last major clue as to who the choice will be. For Team of Rivals is a book about how Lincoln placed his fiercest rivals for the presidency in the cabinet, including and especiallythe early, overwhelming favorite for the Republican nomination, New York Senator William Seward...

By now even the most casual observer of politics knows I’m hinting at Hillary, and indeed, I think it will be her. I’ve thought for some time that Obama has been doing everything necessary to pick her. By courting other people, he doesn’t look like he’s being forced into the choice. By focusing on others he avoids the horrific cable over analysis of the pick. And with Hillary in Springfield he gets a place that draws parallels back to Lincoln (always a good thing), plus he get the added bonus of Hillary’s Illinois roots.

But moreover, it was really the obvious choice all along. She’s the only one that really makes a difference, that gets a sizeable number of non political junkies excited. She and Bill are probably his best attack dogs against McCain. They even give him an excellent decoy to draw Republican fire. She’s the only one thats great for now and great for September and October.

If you still aren’t convinced, I’ll leave you with this from ABC News today:

Obama said he wanted somebody who is "prepared to be president" and who will be "a partner with me in strengthening this economy for the middle class and working families."

He said he was looking for not just a partner but a sparring partner. "I want somebody who's independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me so we have got a robust debate in the White House."

If not Hillary, who?

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