THINKING ABOUT McCAIN'S VP PICK
I was driving home last night as Gore was introducing Obama to a raucous crowd in Detroit. Obama draws large, raucous crowds. McCain draws two dozen old ladies to the fire hall. McCain is going to have to use his VP selection, and his VP selection process, to fire up some enthusiasm.
I would bet that one of the following is going to be his pick, and I would hope that he is in no great hurry to make the pick. In this case, the more focus groups and polling, the better. He has to get this right.
He's been out of Washington for a while and can come in fresh. He is respected across the political spectrum. He bucked neocon thinking on more than one occasion. He is a statesman, knowledgeable, accomplished and well spoken. However, liberals will be quick to point out that he went to bat for the evil Bush at the U.N. and parroted Bush's lies. Powell is a career military guy but no fan of war. He plays up McCain's only solid advantages, in foreign policy and political experience. He's at least as black as Obama and a known quantity to whites. I think he strikes the right balance. Con: He's 71, and does not bring the youth to the ticket that McCain's advisors might think he needs. Hillary has already proven that running on experience vs. change is a losing proposition, although the conventional wisdom is that experience is more of a positive in the general election, and moreover Hillary didn't really have the experience that she claimed to have. Powell can pay tribute to McCain's service to his country in a way that McCain himself cannot.
This would be the bold, attention-grabbing pick. It would bolster McCain's bipartisan reputation, which would play well to moderates but further antagonize conservatives. McCain has been photographed with Lieberman more often than with anybody but his wife. They seem to be friends and cut of the same cloth. I think the two would enjoy campaigning together, and that itself would bring some much-needed vitality to the campaign. Lieberman is sober and likable despite being totally out of whack with conservatives on social issues. He is a familiar name and face, having run with Gore and flipped to Independent in his last campaign. He is a maverick, and I think Americans (maybe just men) like that. As the lone dissenter, he emphasizes the cut-and-run policies of the left that most Americans (men?) inherently despise if you cast them as surrender/choosing to lose rather than sparing American lives and treasure. He has never grossly offended anyone but Democrats. He can deliver a Zell Miller-type indictment of what the Democratic Party has become at the GOP convention.
I just don't think it's Mitt's time. Conservatives came around to him only because they had to when Thompson was a no-show. Politically McCain needs to win it in the middle, by being who he is, and count on the right to turn out for him because they can't bear the thought of an Obama presidency. I think moving right is a mistake for McCain. The hard red states will remain red; he needs Ohio and Wisconsin and New Hampshire and Minnesota where Independents carry the day. We'll see Mitt again next time around and I don't like his chances then either.
She is intelligent, articulate, knowledgeable -- and a close ally of Bush. That alone disqualifies her I think. One might argue that he should include her on the short list just to make the point that he is willing to consider qualified blacks and women, but I think even considering a high ranking Bush official on his ticket would be a mistake politically. I don't think she wants the job, although that's what everyone says before they get asked, and then, hmm, it's one short step from the presidency, how can you refuse. I think America is closer to electing an African-American or a woman to the presidency than a scholar. I like her a lot but politically she is the wrong choice.
I have listed them above in my order of likelihood. What I think he should do is pick Lieberman. What I think he will do is pick Gen. Powell as a somewhat safer choice.
Who am I missing? Why am I wrong? Do tell.