Last post on Kerry’s running mate

In Josh Marshall’s absence this week, a slew of other DC insiders are blogging over at TPM, and two of them each wrote a lengthy piece on why Kerry should pick Edwards as his running mate. Each hints that the word in DC is that he is still leaning toward Gephardt or Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, and each states unequivocally that these selections wold be wrong. They’re great posts.

With so many blogs and news programs and pundits buzzing on this subject, there’s precious little I can add — except to reiterate how sorry I’d be to see Kerry steer away from Edwards solely because he is “uncomfortable” with him. Being uncomfortable with a vice president sometimes seems like a requirement, as with Kennedy-Johnson and, even more notoriously, Reagan-Bush. The decisions weren’t based on comfort levels, but on realpolitik, i.e., what would be strategically smartest.

I don’t think choosing Gephardt would ruin the race for Kerry, and it may help in a few Midwest hot spots. But this pales in comparison to the infusion of energy and charisma that Edwards would bring the ticket. There was a reason Edwards rose out of nowhere to do so well in the primaries, and it’s his blend of optimism, populism, intelligence and youth. Gephardt’s got the populism part, but none of the others.

I would be disappointed at the selection of Gephardt on more than one level, my personal lack of enthusiasm for the man aside. It would confirm a concern I have about Kerry being a bit out of touch with what the people are looking for in their leaders. It would confirm a concern among some that he lacks imagination and bravura, going for what he sees as a “safe” and “comfortable” pick. (The fact that he went after McCain proves this point is invalid, but again, it’s about perceptions, and picking Gephardt creates a definite perception, one that I see as a strong negative.)

Sorry for going on about this, but at the very moment this campaign needs a breath of fresh air, a stunning rebound, I fear it may shoot itself in the foot.

John, if you are reading this now, I ask you to consider carefully. It’s not about comfort, it’s about winning. Make Gephardt your secretary of state or of labor or whatever — after you win. But for now, keep your eye on the prize and do whatever it takes to capture the public’s imagination and its votes. See your VP candidates through the voters’ eyes, and ask yourself honestly and objectively, which one is going to energize and inspire Americans, Gephardt or Edwards? I don’t think there’s any debate.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

he will choose Edwards. I know a great deal many former Washington, D.C. insiders, some of whom actively operate within the Democratic circle.

They are all pro-Edwards and anti-Dick.

By the way, whatever happened to that picture of Dick? The one that shows him to be a horse in the running?

June 24, 2004 @ 7:23 pm | Comment

Check out the TPM posts; I am on your side, but I’d feel a bit better if these inside-the-beltway gurus weren’t so nervous.

June 24, 2004 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

I supported John Edwards long before John Kerry. I think Kerry’s biggest concern might be that JRE would steal the spotlight from him. They’re at opposite ends of the charisma meter.

June 24, 2004 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

They are “at opposite ends of the charisma meter.” But that’s why Kerry should choose him. Bush can be very charismatic, at least when he has a prepared script in front of him. So the Kerry ticket has to have enough charisma. to match the Bush ticket. Whether the bulk comes from Edwards or Kerry I don’t care. But if it’s Gephardt, the charisma level drops into the negative zone. Bad.

June 24, 2004 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

I’m talking about inside the beltway people too. Just because they blog their opinions doesn’t mean that the non-bloggers have any less of a say.

I know its the medium. Link to link, right? But there is far more talk out there that isn’t getting blogged.

June 24, 2004 @ 10:32 pm | Comment

I think Edwards has a big future but, I can see how the Republicans could use him to hurt Kerry if he’s the choice.

Here’s the pitch: At a time when America is at war and under the threat of terrorists whose may have already attempted to attack the White House once, and surely would again if they can, do we really want, a heart beat away from the presidency, a young, callow tort lawyer, with no foreign policy experience and who has not only never held executive office but has ony served a single term in the Senate. We just can’t risk it.

Would it resonate? Beats me. You can be the Republicans will try it out on focus groups and find out. Maybe Kerry has done the same and doesn’t like the result.

Just speculating but. . . .

June 25, 2004 @ 2:04 am | Comment

I bet he chooses Dukakis. He was in a tank once.

June 25, 2004 @ 8:36 am | Comment

Conrad’s point is very well taken and doublessd, if Edwards is The One, the Karl Roves and Karen Hughes people will point to this relative inexperience as his Achilles heel. But then, Bush had virtually no knowledge of foreign policy when he came in as the president, let alone the VP, and Dan Quayle was no seer of international relations. Edwards isn’t perfect and he will be vulnerable on this issue. But I definbitely don’t see it as an election-breaker, and Edwards’ charm is bound to make him a big net plus. He’s the hoteest thing the Dems have had since the real JFK.

June 25, 2004 @ 11:00 am | Comment

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