Several readers have pointed to the single greatest flaw in my argument: Sounds great on paper (to some, at least), but when you look for an actual, you know, human being to fill the slot it gets tough. From a reader:
I want to agree with your column today. In the abstract it sounds not good but great. But when I start to think about the specific candidates it all falls apart:
–If the pick is Lieberman or Bloomberg, how could the judicial issue ever be put to rest? Yes, one-term is a good way to go, but high probability of 2-3 SCOTUS openings in just the next 4 years. The V.P. must be ready to step in as President and must be trustworthy on the main planks of McCain’s agenda. Lieberman and Bloomberg are not trustworthy on judicial appointments and I don’t see how that could ever change. I’d rather take many chances with an Obama SCOTUS nominee than one picked by Bloomberg.
–Nunn is not an option. He has endorsed Obama and is a leading candidate for Obama’s Defense Secretary, maybe even Obama’s V.P. Obama is a much better horse for Nunn to ride back into power.
–Zell Miller is a great man, but too old and too hot-tempered. He’s like McCain without the equanimity!
–Who else is there? The ranks of Dems who are BOTH relatively conservative AND relatively non-partisan are nonexistent. People like Ed Rendell and Bob Casey probably could work with McCain on most issues. Rendell said nice things about Alito, and Casey is pro-life. But both Rendell and Casey are committed partisans who would never, ever, ever leave the Democratic Party. I think the same is true of Lee Hamilton, and he’s too old anyway
Your idea would have been great in the 1980’s. Reagan or Bush 41 could have considered may moderate Dems for their V.P’s: Scoop Jackson, Lawton Chiles, Sam Nunn, David Boren, Howell Heflin, Chuck Robb, Phil Gramm, Gov. Ed King, Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. Almost any Democratic Senator who voted to confirm Bork and Scalia would have been worth considering. But those days are sadly long gone.
I think McCain should make the one-term pledge and pick Jindal as his V.P. Why not name an heir when there is such potentially good one available?
Thanks for a thought provoking column, though.
Or as another reader chimes in:
I like your idea in theory, but it brings to mind Steve Martin’s famous advice for becoming a millionaire but paying no taxes… “first, get a million dollars…” The only Dems centrist enough to make sense all came of age in the pre-McGovern party, which means they’re all just two damn old. Case in point: Sam Nunn has an office in my building, so I ride the elevator with him from time-to-time. He’s a swell guy, but he’s Paleolithic. Colin Powell would probably qualify as a post-partisan adult…but he’s 71.
To this, I must say, more or less, touché!