I’m enjoying watching the Obama veepstakes unfold….
If Hillary doesn't want the job, which she isn't right for (although I love her) maybe Barack will pick either Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey or Jim Webb.
Obama and Casey like, respect and enjoy each other. How well they work together really is an important selection criteria in choosing a VP to help Barack move forward on America’s mandate for change.
Obama took Casey for a long test-drive as they campaigned together across Pennsylvania. Casey seems a bit low-key to me, but his mild demeanor seems to have grown on his loyal down-home constituents. Casey is experienced–if not day-one-experienced–in foreign policy. His interests, expertise and politics are very similar to Barack’s. Casey's solid, well-vetted personal background will contain few surprises, if any. He seems to have unshakeable integrity, quiet confidence, little ego, considerable calm and coolness, deep faith, wonky attention to detail, poise on his feet, and a lifetime commitment to challenges and service.
Casey was Jesuit-trained, which says to me he and Barack share values and perspectives. Both Obama and Casey served on the senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees together, so they know each other fairly well.
Bob’s father was a beloved Pennsylvania Governor, so he is not new to political life and its unpleasant realities. Bob’s four beautiful daughters and wife are very much an asset; they twisted his arm to get him to go ahead and support Barack. Barack said Casey’s endorsement meant more to him…as much to him… as any endorsement he’d received in his whole campaign. A telling comment indeed.
Casey is a devout Catholic and thoughtfully pro-life, which will bring in many new voters, including previous non-political voters, Hispanics, Evangelicals, religious voters in general, and Catholics. Pro-lifers will just have to settle for having a very liberal, pro-life president.
I think Barack is looking for a relatively youthful partner, a natural leader who will share leadership loyally beside him to achieve his agenda of change, and who might, having learned and earned the job over eight years, step into Barack’s shoes as he eases himself over to the Supreme Court when ready for a nice long useful, interesting rest.
Pennsylvania is a state Barack would like to win and Casey could get for him, although regional considerations are less important than all the above factors, since Barack cannot legitimately be said to “belong” to any single region of the U.S.
Casey is a populist who would appeal to Hillary’s current voters—particularly the blue-collar folk slow to see in Barack one of their own, who take a little longer to recognize his integrity, vision and trustworthiness, and might need some significant convincing to understand Barack's unique ability and credible plan to bring about the changes they want to see. Casey seems to be a good manager and a good debater. He's hard-working, productive, ambitious, and attentive to quality and detail.
Casey is a quietly authentic, genuine, natural leader who will help Barack get elected and won't hurt him. If he turns out to be the strong, complementary partner Barack needs to successfully move his agenda forward, if he learns and earns the job of president during the next eight years, then Barack will have exercised his own good judgment to make a selection in the best interests of the all the people, which is what Barack does best.
Both Casey and Obama have a few endearingly sweet but flitty mannerisms which demagogues will use to smear such a team (see Casey's endorsement announcement) so they'd have to be warned to avoid giggling enthusiasm and girlish delight when campaigning together.
I have adored Jim Webb since I read Fields of Fire when it first came out, and the man just keeps on getting more and more wonderful. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's such a uniquely powerful and thoughtful leader, and a great populist. But perhaps Obama wants someone younger, more religious, a little more like himself in his politics, and a little less-burdened with a strong personality, personal distractions, historical skeletons and wives. If these issues don't bother Barack, they won't bother me. I'm a bit concerned about Webb's health; despite his evident fitness, he just looks like a heart attack waiting to happen. I hope I'm wrong.
Each of the other impressive leaders currently exuding gravitas and national/international military/foreign policy experience (Al Gore, General James L. Jones, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson….) is either too old for the sixteen-year tough-hoeing job, or somewhat reluctant to take it on, although I suspect they would all agree to do whatever might be necessary for the good of their country and/or party. I still think Al Gore must be Barack's intended answer should the party try to foist Hillary on him. The name, Al Gore, is unfortunately still very polarizing to non-Democrat voters because of his past Clinton associations, but his internationally acclaimed environmental activism has made him less-so. Young people love him, and he's learned to be a more natural, relaxed campaigner and leader.
I like Mark Warner for many of the same reasons that I like Casey, but I really don't know anything about him that I haven't learned on the internet. He may not be sufficiently “with” the Obama program, I just don’t know. If Barack is confident of Warner's loyalty and integrity and their shared vision, then he is also a good choice for some–but not all–of the above reasons.
I just love Bill Richardson, who is morally courageous and upright, committed to Barack’s agenda, will bring in Hispanics, runs a tight ship, and gets it done. He's not a lightweight, but he's perceived by some to be one, congenial as he is, so that would have to be worked on. I can't imagine anyone saying Richardson wouldn't be ready on Day One, or not liking him, or finding skeletons in his closet, which is all good.
Another good choice for Barack right now, based, again, only on internet research and reading, is Kathleen Sebelius, also for many of the above reasons. If I knew more about her, or even more about Casey and Warner, perhaps she would be my first choice. She's had a lifetime in politics, and seems accessible, bright, admirable, hard-working, politically correct and savvy, low-key and appealing. She's powerful in distinctly feminine ways–a real plus–and future presidential material to be sure.
In recent history, both Presidents Bush, Clinton and Gore demonstrated how important and difficult it is to make a good VP choice. Choosing a running mate can be a thankless, nearly impossible task, one best made on one’s own terms and not, ultimately, by committee. Every VP choice inevitably comes with a certain amount of baggage and drawbacks. No single choice can compete with all the best arguments for all the other candidates, of course.
I’m enjoying playing this little veepstakes game along with the thousands of other people who are interested in playing it, too, so I thought I might as well share my conclusions and my reasons for having them (total value: about two-cents) with my loyal readers…..
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