Thursday, May 15, 2008

Edwards for Obama : Time to Look for a VP?

Now that I've given the bad news about Burma and how to help (see the post below), some good news is in order: John Edwards has endorsed Barack Obama. This is not entirely surprising, given the combination of Obama's delegate lead, Hillary's poor performance in Indiana, and pressure from the DNC for remaining superdelegates to choose sides.

However, it does mean that Obama has gained the support of three former rivals: Chris Dodd (senator from Connecticut), Bill Richardson (the Hispanic Governor of New Mexico), and John Edwards (former Senator from North Carolina and John Kerry's running-mate in 2004). Other than the two front-runners, Edwards and Richardson were the largest vote-getters (indeed, Edwards still managed to get 7% of the vote in West Virginia, even though he has dropped out of the race). It is also worth noting that Governor Richardson is a longtime Clinton supporter, yet endorsed Obama a while ago for ideological reasons.

Given Edwards and Richardson's expertise (trial lawyer and former diplomat, respectively), it seems likely that Edwards may be Attorney General and Richardson Secretary of State, should Obama be elected and they desire the positions. I know there has been a lot of speculation about whether either of these candidates should be VP - but my gut feeling is that they won't be. Here's why:

(1) Edwards has been the VP candidate before, and my guess is that he has some inkling how informal a role the VP plays. His skills point to AG, and there was some discussion right after he dropped out that Obama offered the AG position to him. Plus, while Edwards definitely wants change and appeals to blue-collar whites, he's also a very liberal candidate and may be less willing to compromise with business than Obama. Remember that his specialty as a trial lawyer is labor rights. One other issue to consider, though it may be seen as a minor factor, is that selecting a southern white male could increase the chances that Obama is the target of an assassination plot - after all, the VP succeeds him. We have come far since the 1960s in terms of racism - but there are still a lot of crazies out there. The assassination thing is probably an issue no matter who Obama picks as VP, so this may be minor, but it's still a factor to consider.

(2) Richardson, aside from being a skilled diplomat (was ambassador to the UN) and former cabinet official (he was Secretary of Energy), might be a slightly better option - in part because he could help Latino turnout for the Democrats, and prevent Republican inroads on "values" issues. However, he may also serve to alienate the voters Obama has trouble with - blue-collar whites, especially in swing states like PA, OH, and IN. Combine immigration attacks with the still-present misunderstandings about Obama's religion (many think he's a Muslim, despite the well-publicized scandals from Rev. Wright at Trinity) and racism... many voters might not be ready for that much "change".

My guess is that the best pick for him would be a moderate white woman, if one exists, whose name is not Hillary Clinton (can you say intra-administration stress?). Interesting note on that: such a choice, assuming Richardson is Secretary of State, would mean that the top four constitutional officials would all NOT be white men:
Obama - President
Moderate White Woman - VP
Nancy Pelosi - Speaker
Richardson - Sec. of State

Wouldn't that be something!


Anonymous said...

One such white woman, could be Kathleen Sebelius. She is currently the governor of Kansas, and she is considered a potential running mate for the democratic party. She actually gave the democratic response to Bush's final state of the union and she is considered a rising star in the democratic party (Although she is now 60).

While she would be an option for the VP, i think it is too early to rule out Hillary. She would bring the blue collar base back to the democratic party, and selecting her would be a statement of party unity. The real question is if she would accept the position from Obama.

Another point against Edwards as the VP is that he is also realatively young, and another "inexperienced" candidate for the republicans to attack wouldnt be a good thing for democrats.

Sean said...

Sibelius was one of the people in my head, I was just blanking on the name. Thanks for filling it in :-).

There are +/- to any ticket - but I'm fairly sure that, unless quite a few superdelegates make a Hillary-VP ticket a condition of their decision (unlikely, in my mind), it won't happen. I think that he dislikes her style, for all the talk of unity. If he's sincere about change you need a ticket that functions well together, without the infighting.

Edwards actually works under that criterion, despite the fact that he leans a bit further left than Obama. My personal hope would be Biden, though - he's fairly Senate-savvy, independent, and seems to agree with Obama a lot. Plus, I think he's gotten the "slip of the tongue" problem under control. He might make a LBJ-esque VP, bringing the established political alliances to the administration for the younger leader. Dodd would be similar, but he's too conservative for Obama's image. I really don't think the VP-factor is an assassination +/- that much, despite my initial post.

I wouldn't mind a Barbara Boxer choice - but that might lead to "leftist" labeling they want to avoid - although so would Edwards.