The Corner

Going Dem

Rich – You may not recall but last May, I somewhat playfully suggested that McCain should pick a Dem for his running mate (if he makes the 1 term pledge). Here’s the meat of it:

As the parties have become less coalitional and more ideological, the No. 2 slot on the presidential ticket is increasingly seen as an opportunity for national marketing rather than regional deal-making. Bill Clinton picked Al Gore not to win a specific state or constituency, but to shore up Clinton’s image as a youthful, moderate reformer. George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney for any number of reasons (though, contrary to rumor, none of them have to do with Cheney making Bush an offer he couldn’t refuse on a hunting trip), but capturing Wyoming’s three electoral votes wasn’t one of them.

With the exception of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (and possibly Alaska governor Sarah Palin), it’s difficult to see how any of the advertised picks for the veep slot help McCain sell himself as a different kind of Republican. And, at age 36, the still-green Jindal might not only seem like a gimmick, but he would undermine McCain on two fronts: He’d remind voters of McCain’s age, and he’d diminish the anti-Obama argument that experience, particularly in foreign policy, really matters.

Meanwhile, a national-unity ticket would, among other things, expose Obama’s fraudulent claims to be a post-partisan uniter and reformer. The party-line, left-wing Democrat has done almost nothing in his short political career to support either claim. He is a product of the profoundly corrupt Chicago machine, not an enemy of it. And his definition of bipartisanship amounts to welcoming the unqualified support of Republicans who support his liberal agenda. The most liberal member of the Senate in 2007, according to National Journal, wasn’t even a member of the bipartisan gang of 14.

Such a daring move on McCain’s part would also signal that the country might enjoy a timeout from partisan rancor. Even the Obama-sycophantic mainstream press would have to admire such a profound gesture.

The benefit for Republicans might be substantial. The party could rightly claim to have the bigger tent and the stronger commitment to serious reform. And for movement conservatives, the next four years could be a time for much-needed rebuilding. Obviously, a Joe Lieberman or Sam Nunn would not be the presumptive front-runner for the GOP nomination in 2012. And the lack of an heir apparent would encourage a healthy and vigorous debate for the future of the party.

McCain would still have to reassure Republicans that he would be reliable on judges and other issues vital to conservatives. But a unity ticket would provide the greatest assurance of them all: Barack Obama wouldn’t be the one picking judges.

Me: Let the record also show I was eaten alive for it. Rush Limbaugh went on a tear about it. Enraged conservatives went ballistic at me. My own personal trial balloon took on more arrows than Custer.

Update: This came in within 90 seconds of the above post, from a reader:

You are still an idiot for suggesting it!

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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