Constitutionally speaking, the Vice President does not wield significant power within the executive branch. Relegated to the “1st loser” spot by the authors of the constitution the only “real” duty of the Vice President lies within the legislative branch as the presiding officer over the senate under which he has actual voting power in case of a tie. While the first VP, John Adams lamented about the insignificance of his office, the role of the VP has evolved over time. In fact, it was not until the Carter administration that the #2 had an office spot in the west wing. Many politicos however, point to Dick Cheney as the most powerful VP to date. With the help of John Woo and others within the office, Cheney has pursued an aggressive expansion of executive power that for better or worse (I believe the latter) will be around for the next Vice President as he or she moves into the west wing in January. What does this all mean? It means that the 2008 election is the first since this aggressive expansion of vice presidential power, thus making the selection of the VP a high stakes game of electoral roulette both for the Mccain and Obama campaigns. The media circus, fueled by rumors and rampant speculation from the talking heads, reached a fever pitch in the last week as we creep towards the nominating conventions. A careful analysis of the race reveals a few key questions that need to be addressed. Who should the candidates consider and who should they keep off the ballot at all costs in November? What criteria will the candidates use to carefully pick their mate and finally who is ultimately going to get the nod?
Let us first take a close look at the old “maverick” John Mccain who has faced some difficulty from the start due to his anti-GOP establishment stances on immigration reform environmental regulation and lets face it, does not have the best “family values” trackrecord to appease the evanlegicals. He lingers in the shadow of an unpopular president and his war, yet he still maintains somewhat of a moral authority on war time issues due to his widely discussed service in Vietnam and his support for the surge. Throughout his years in Washington (and there have been numerous), Mccain has been able to earn the “maverick” label that will most likely allow him to pick up some of the moderates that would have otherwise turned in a different direction. What he lacks is a solid base turn out that Rove and Bush so carefully cultivated in the last two general elections, which leads us to the choices. The media has speculated on everyone from Jeb Bush (a guaranteed loser) to Sarah Palin, a relatively unknown Governor from Alaska. Some others include Bobby Jindal, Tom Ridge and even blue-dog Democrat Joe Lieberman. None of these candidates will ultimately be “the one.” The McCain campaign will settle on Mitt Romney for a few reasons. First, he will pull in the core GOP voters that are suspicious of Mccain and seem to love the idea of a continuation of the “war on terror” and tough treatment (ie. torture) of Gitmo detainees. He is a fiscal conservative with bona fide executive credentials that will compliment the holes in the Mccain campaign.
On the other side of the aisle Obama needs to be very careful with their selection as well. A misstep at this stage could spell disaster for the historical candidate. While Obama seems to be a uniter with a Teflon coat, he has been dogged by doubts on his foreign policy knowledge and his overall experience. According to pollingreport.com a full 23% of the electorate is “not at all confident” he will make good foreign policy decisions. This needs to be one of the highest priorities for the Obama camp as they make their decision. The other major hurdle he will need to overcome is the Hillary factor. According to the maps, he had a difficult time picking up white rural voters in the primary – something that Clinton was able to quite easily with the help of her buddy Jack Daniels (see video). With these major problems in mind, we turn to the list which includes everyone from a former fidelity challenged Vice Presidential candidate (John Edwards) to Hillary Clinton herself. Others include Evan Bayh, Sam Nunn, Joe Biden, Jim Webb and Gov. Kaine from Virgina. While Jim Webb has a wealth of foreign policy and military experience he lacks the necessary executive experience to counteract the experience argument against Obama. An Obama/Clinton ticket will be a disaster as it is antithetical to the “change” Obama has discussed. The ultimate choice lies in Evan Bayh, a moderate white guy (that’s important) from middle America in a largely Republican state. He has campaigned for Obama see video and has statewide appeal that will be able to swing those crucial electoral votes for Barack in November. He also happens to sit on the Senate intelligence committee (which to some may seem like an oxymoron) and armed services committee – which will serve to bolster Obama’s lack of military experience. So there you have it – Mccain/Romney and Obama/Bayh – look for it on a bumper sticker coming soon!