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Jewish World Review April 24, 2000 /19 Nissan, 5760

Roger Simon

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Dream on, John Skywalker -- THE ONLY WAY that George W. Bush would offer John McCain the vice presidency is if Bush were absolutely certain McCain would turn it down. So if you are a Republican and getting all tingly at the thought of a Bush-McCain ticket, you can calm down again. There is no way it's going to happen.

True, Bush said in Michigan this week that when the two men meet on May 9, Bush would "want to look him in the eye and visit with him" on whether he has any interest in the job.

But that's smoke and mirrors: Bush lost Michigan to McCain in the primaries, Bush needs Michigan in the general election and some in Michigan are telling Bush that if he really wants to win the state, he needs McCain on the ticket.

One must keep in mind, however, that the two men genuinely dislike each other. During their bruising primary battle, the McCain campaign accused Bush of being an anti-Catholic bigot and the Bush campaign accused McCain of refusing to fund breast-cancer research.

Both accusations were way below the belt and the wounds have still not healed.

But would Bush really pick McCain if he thought McCain might help him win the presidency? For that answer, consider what a good vice president is. A good vice president is anonymous, always putting his boss's interests ahead of his own.

A good vice president never takes credit for anything, preferring instead to heap glory on the person in the Oval Office.

A good vice president never makes news, leaving that to the president.

A good vice president is loyal to his boss even when he thinks his boss is wrong.

Does any of that sound like John McCain?

No way. McCain says what he wants, and does what he wants, and he says it and does it publicly.

Bush wants the same kind of vice president that Ronald Reagan had: a man who neither said nor did anything memorable in eight years in office. In other words, George W. Bush wants his father.

If George W. Bush were president and John McCain were his vice president, Bush would never be able to leave the White House: He'd always be afraid that when he got back, McCain would have changed the locks.

Then consider this: Why would McCain want the job? Right now, he is one of the most sought-after personalities in America. That would end if he became vice president.

Right now, even though he is a staunch Republican, he has somehow assumed the image of being "above" politics. And he does it by saying and doing things that politicians never do.

Veep material?
Take his flip-flops on whether the Confederate flag should fly atop the South Carolina Statehouse.

During the primary campaign in January, McCain said the flag was "offensive" and a "symbol of racism and slavery."

The next day, however, he issued a statement to South Carolina reporters reversing himself and saying the flag was a "symbol of heritage."

The day after that in New Hampshire, McCain said the flag was not a symbol of heritage, but, "My forefathers fought under the Confederate flag (and) I believe they believed their service was honorable."

George W. Bush at least was consistent, though not courageous on the subject: He refused to get involved saying it was up to the people of South Carolina.

This Wednesday, however, McCain took what may be his final position on the matter. In a speech in Columbia, S.C., he said: "I believe the flag should be removed from your Capitol."

True, McCain made his statement only after the state senate voted to remove it last week, but the removal still faces opposition in the house and McCain's opinion might have some small effect on the outcome.

But why did McCain not state his true feelings during the primary?

"I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary," McCain said. "So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth."

And for good measure, McCain (who lost the South Carolina primary anyway) also said his ancestors "fought on the wrong side of American history" when they fought for the Confederacy.

John McCain is a politician who talks about his mistakes, is willing to embarrass himself and is willing to tell people that he lied.

And George W. Bush's people are all telling him the same thing: You can't have a man like that a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate