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Jewish World Review
Dec. 12, 2007
/ 3 Teves, 5768
How about a GOPer for Obama's veep pick?
Sure, the press is making a big fuss over Barack Obama’s rising poll numbers, palpable momentum and huge campaign weekend with Oprah.
But you’ll know the press is really taking Obama seriously when it starts speculating on whom he wants for his vice president.
So let’s start speculating even though it is irresponsibly early to do so. (As always, we ask ourselves the question: If we are not irresponsible, who will be?)
There are some intriguing choices out there. But let’s begin by eliminating anybody now running against him for the nomination: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd or Dennis Kucinich.
It’s not that none would make a good running mate; it’s that none would signal a real departure from the “old Washington textbook” ways that Obama criticizes.
What would be a departure?
How about a Republican on the ticket?
As near as I can determine, we haven’t had a major ticket made up of two different parties since Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, ran with Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat, under the National Union Party banner in 1864.
Such a two-party ticket not only would be dramatic but it would be in keeping with Obama’s statement made at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, last month: “I don’t want to pit Red America against Blue America; I want to be the president of the United States of America.”
Which brings us to the possibility of:
Chuck Hagel — Placing Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, on the ticket would be a way for Obama to reach out to anti-war Republicans. Hagel, like Obama, also supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. And there are other things they agree on.
“I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I’ve ever seen or ever read about,” Hagel has said. “They have failed the country.”
That sounds pretty much like what we are going to hear about the Bush administration at the Democratic convention.
But there is at least one big problem. Hagel has a strong pro-life voting record, which puts him at odds with Obama and most Democrats.
Hagel could, I am told, pledge to honor Obama’s pro-choice position in Supreme Court appointments should Hagel find himself president. Is such an agreement enforceable? No.
And would the Democratic convention, which would have to ratify Obama’s choice of a running mate, actually nominate a Republican?
Good question. That’s one reason the choice is so intriguing.
But Obama could go outside the Beltway for two less controversial choices:
Phil Bredesen — Not a household name, he is now the Democratic governor of Tennessee and a former mayor of Nashville. Bredesen is known for cutting spending when he has to, which is why some Republicans like him even more than some Democrats do. He also started a successful health care company, which gives him both business credentials and knowledge about an issue that is sure to be important in the general election.
Tim Kaine — The Democratic governor of Virginia, Kaine was a Catholic missionary in Honduras and a mayor of Richmond. He also has one other big qualification and one that gives him an advantage over Virginia Sen. Jim Webb: Kaine endorsed Barack Obama early. When Kaine was asked if he would consider a spot on the ticket, he replied: “I’ve got one term to be governor of Virginia, and that is my plan.” Plans have a way of changing, however.
There are at least three other choices that some people are talking about but we have a tough time seeing:
Michael Bloomberg — There is always a lot of buzz surrounding the mayor of New York. He once was a Democrat and then became a Republican and now is an independent, but he never seems to have the word “opportunist” attached to his name. He and Obama had a highly publicized breakfast recently, and while they ate eggs, toast and bacon, maybe they also talked turkey.
Bloomberg continues to allow his people to fuel speculation that he may run for president. But if Obama gets the Democratic nomination, could Bloomberg really run as an independent? Would he really want to be remembered for trying to prevent America from electing its first black president?
Would Bloomberg really take the running mate spot if it were offered to him, however? Somehow we have a hard time seeing Bloomberg as No. 2 to anybody.
Al Gore — Even though he was a two-term vice president, he is not barred by the Constitution from serving in that position again. But Gore has been there and done that. He has his Nobel Peace Prize, several million dollars and a global audience. So it is unlikely he wants to go back to being a second banana. Besides, he could still run for president again. Maybe.
Oprah — She would have to switch her residence from Illinois, since that is where Obama also resides, but what state would not welcome Oprah? There is one barrier, however: In Des Moines last weekend, somebody in the crowd shouted out that Obama should put Oprah on the ticket.
“You want Oprah as vice president?” Obama replied. “That would be a demotion.”
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