“The pick is in!” Now-commissioner Roger Goodell will stride out upon the stage and announce that with the first pick in the 2020 Democratic running-mate draft, Joe Biden’s campaign selects . . . okay, wait, that’s not really how it works.
For cable-news and political junkies, this is one of the most dramatic moments of the cycle. Likely one Democrat among Kamala Harris, Susan Rice, Karen Bass, Tammy Duckworth, or Gretchen Whitmer has just been given an excellent chance of becoming the 47th president of the United States — and obviously the first woman to become commander in chief. For the others, there’s likely a promise of strong consideration for some other key position in Biden’s cabinet.
But looking back at recent history, some of the figures on the short list don’t join the cabinet and end up not playing much of a role in the party’s future. Chris Christie never formally joined the Trump administration; reportedly, Jared Kushner played a role in that decision. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana made the short list for Obama, but didn’t seek reelection in 2010 and lost a bid to return to the Senate in 2016. Oklahoma governor Frank Keating was considered a top contender in 2000, but never joined the Bush administration. And in 1992, Bill Clinton’s finalists included “Senators Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, John D. Rockefeller 4th of West Virginia, Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania, Bob Graham of Florida and Representative Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana.”
In the sales competition in Glengarry Glen Ross, “first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. . . . Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.” Biden’s selection gets to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, several others will probably get some sort of position in the executive branch . . . and some others may well get obscurity.