One of my old bosses, John Bicknell at CQ, writes in a column that if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, John McCain will have a much freer hand in naming a running mate.
McCain’s veep problem is not that he needs to “pick a conservative” or “balance the ticket” or “guard the South.” It’s that, come fall, he will have a terrible time with the narrative of the campaign if he is up against Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama or Obama-Napolitano or Obama-Sebelius or any other rainbow combination the Democrats create in Denver. Even a Clinton-Strickland ticket would give the press a FIRST WOMAN NOMINEE! DEMOCRATS PICK METHODIST MINISTER FOR VICE PRESIDENT! narrative that looks positively multicultural if the GOP ticket is the same two white guys the Republicans have been running since 1856.
But Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket would free McCain from the tyranny of the resume, and open the GOP VP field to a wider array of candidates, giving him a chance to change the narrative of the campaign…
Bicknell says “The two most attractive GOP possibilities for VP who are eliminated by the not-ready-for-prime-time standard are governors — Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Sarah Palin of Alaska.” If the Democratic ticket features two longtime lawmakers, the Democrats could try to argue that either was not ready to assume the presidency at a moment’s notice. But if Obama heads the Democratic ticket…
…it would be very difficult for the Democrats to argue that Jindal, as vice president, would not be qualified to be president after his four years in Congress, since that’s the same amount of time served by Obama. They’d have a better argument against Palin, but would they really want to spend much time talking about qualifications? That’s going to be McCain’s mantra, isn’t it? Why would they give him an opportunity to counterpunch?
I realize Bobby Jindal is a longshot, but he’s turning into my early favorite. Because of the age difference with McCain (Jindal was born in 1971!), the Democrats would almost certainly be stupid enough to try to call him “the next Dan Quayle.” Then the GOP points out degree in biology and public policy from Brown University and Rhodes scholar at Oxford, and the fact that you will not find a 37 year old with a more sterling resume and variety of policy knowledge (though most particularly in health care).
UPDATE: The guys at Red State aren’t as enthusiastic.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Governor Palin is expecting in two months, and some think that may hinder her chances. I see a different scenario taking shape:
“ST. LOUIS, Mo., Oct. 2, 2008 — Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Ted Strickland seemed visibly thrown off his game this evening when his rival, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, removed a breast pump from behind the podium during the debate, and began attending to her motherly duties during his answer. For the remainder of the evening, he seemed distracted by the soft whirring of the mechanical pump, even though her activities were hidden by a shawl…”