Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Veepstakes: Does it Matter?

The Democratic National Convention kicks off next Monday, August 25th, in Denver and the increasingly ultra-liberal Democratic Party will select Barrack Obama as their nominee for the Presidency of the United States.

The Republican National Convention will then get underway the following week, on September 1st in Minneapolis. There the sometimes conservative party will nominate John McCain as their party nominee for the Presidency.

There will be much hoopla at both events, a great deal of pomp and circumstance, and a large amount of partisan blathering from any number of talking heads.

In the next few days and into next week there will be a great deal of speculation as to whom each party's prospective nominee will be selecting as a running-mate. The selection of a Vice-Presidential candidate to run with the Presidential candidate on their party 'ticket' is seen as a key moment in any campaign.

Very often the Presidential candidate and his advisers look to pick an individual who embodies the values of that Presidential nominee, but who also has differences that can be helpful in drawing voters to the ticket.


For instance, someone from the Northeast might decide to pick a Southerner, or someone from the West might choose someone from the East Coast. Someone from the heartland in the Mid-West might choose from the East or the South.

Someone deemed inexperienced in world affairs might choose a veteran politico with such experience. Someone with a military background might opt for a partner with a stronger record handling domestic issues, and so on.

In the entire history of major party politics in the United States there have been two important things that nearly all candidates have had in common, whether for the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency: they have been white, and they have been male.

There was only one major party female candidate in history, 1984 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro (pictured), who ran alongside former Vice-President Walter Mondale. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket was squashed by the re-election campaign of Ronald Reagan, and there has been no straying from the 'white males only' club until now.

When the Democrats place Obama's name into nomination, and select him as their candidate, he will become the first black male - the first non-white at all - to ever be nominated for the highest office in the land. Of course, he will pick a white male as his running mate.

There are many people who don't feel that the U.S. is ready to elect a black man as it's President, especially one with as liberal a record as Obama's. However, even those who believe that time is now understand that TWO candidates, both the Prez and the Veep, cannot break the 'white male club' barrier in the same year on the same ticket.

So the leading contenders most often mentioned are Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. The Dems even revived the ghost of , gasp, John Kerry as a possibility.

The call here is that Biden will get the nod. He is extremely strong on international policy and national security issues, two areas which the public perceives as weaknesses for Obama, and he has already been 'vetted'.

The vetting process is where the prospective candidate is investigated and interviewed to determine their suitability to be on the team and not bring embarrassment to the campaign in the form of any unwanted 'skeletons in the closet'.

On the Republican side the names most frequently mentioned lately seem to be former Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security head Tom Ridge, and youthful Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Any of these three would be great candidates, but Pawlenty may just be too 'unknown' yet nationally. There have even been some who have dug up the old idea of Dem turncoat Joe Lieberman.

Romney would be an incredible choice, but he seems like a pipe dream. Ridge is the call here. He was a strong Governor and has perhaps the best resume of any candidate on either side of the aisle.

If they were selected, both Biden and Ridge would be outstanding candidates, as would many others selected in their stead.

But what difference will they make in the end? Does McCain need a young guy to make folks forget his age? Does Obama need a white guy to make folks forget that he is black? Does McCain need a northeast guy to offset his western ruggedness? Does Obama need an experienced tough-guy to overcome his ultra-liberalism and inexperience dealing with foreign heads of state?

No matter, will whomever each selects make a difference to voters? The odds are that both will go with relatively 'safe' choices that will not alienate their base, and that will seemingly be attractive to undecided voters.

I believe that it really doesn't, or at least shouldn't, matter who they might pick. The odds are that you are about to get eight years of either Obama or McCain, and that the Veep won't matter one bit. It is the policies and personalities of Obama and McCain that not only matter the most, but that frankly matter at all.

If you are going to vote for your Presidential candidate because of whom he selects as his Veep running mate, then maybe you need to be rethinking your decision to vote for them entirely.

The Veep nominees will be selected in the coming days, and there will be a great deal of publicity about the selections. But in the end, it is the Presidential candidates who really count.

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