Kathryn, I’m sorry to say I just don’t think McCain’s veep is going to make any meaningful difference. We’ve talked about this on the Corner before. McCain is a totally finished product. After all these years, he just is what he is, and he seems to take (disconcerting) pride in listening to no one but himself. No one he chooses is going to make us feel differently about voting for him, not really.
I don’t believe the institution of the Vice Presidency has changed. Rather, the perceived experience deficiencies of Gov. George W. Bush and Gov. Bill Clinton as candidates made their Veep choices more significant and resulted in enhanced prestige for those Vice Presidents. (It seems funny now, but there was a time when Al Gore was seen as the adult who made it safer to vote for Clinton.) In this regard, I see McCain much more in the George H.W. Bush mold. With due respect to Vice President Quayle (who I liked), people voted for the top of the ticket and it didn’t much matter who Bush-41 chose as his running mate. That’s the default Vice Presidency role, and I think it resumes with McCain.
Assuming he gets the nomination, Obama’s choice of a running mate will be a lot more important than McCain’s.