John McCain as Kerry’s VP?

Just last week I wrote, “McCain must hate Bush with a fierce passion. I would love to see him jump ship and join Kerry, impossible though it may be. Then we’d have an election campaign for the books.”

It was a fantasy, but now Andrew Sullivan is making a passionate argument for a Kerry-McCain ticket.

There is no one better suited in the country to tackle a difficult war where the United States is credibly accused of abusing prisoners than John McCain. He was, after all, a victim of the worst kind of prisoner torture imaginable in the Hanoi Hilton. His military credentials are impeccable but so are his moral scruples and backbone; that’s a rare combination. As a vice-presidential candidate, he would allow Kerry to criticize the conduct of the war and occupation, but also to pursue them credibly. He would give Kerry credibility on national defense, removing the taint of an “antiwar” candidacy headed by a man who helped pioneer the antiwar forces during Vietnam. He would ensure that a Kerry victory would not be interpreted by America’s allies or enemies as a decision to cut and run from Iraq.

McCain could say that this national crisis demands that he put country ahead of party and serve. His loyalty to his party would therefore be trumped by loyalty to his country. Kerry could also say that his impulse is to be a “uniter, not a divider,” and that, unlike Bush, he will actually show it in his pick for the vice-presidency. Their platform? Winning the war, cutting the deficit, reforming corporate excess. A Kerry-McCain ticket, regardless of the many difficulties, would, I think, win in a landslide. Will it happen? Still unlikely. But Abu Ghraib has shortened the odds; and the arguments for such a dramatic innovation just got a lot stronger.

In normal times the idea of a split ticket would be absurd. But these aren’t normal times, and some real out-of-the-box thinking is called for. It still sounds like a fantasy, with a hundred reason why it’s not practical. But stranger things have happened. It would almost certainly spell a Kerry victory and ensure the end of the Bush dynasty. It’s a truly thrilling notion.

Update: Now Kevin Drum chimes in, supporting the idea. Can we raise the noise level on this and create a shift, from fantasy to possibility?

The Discussion: 7 Comments

There will be no shift, in my opinion. McCain has publicly announced, at least three times, that he will not be on the Kerry ticket and that he is not interested in doing this.

May 11, 2004 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

I know. But things have shifted somewhat on the political scene, and McCain is angrier with Bush and Rumsfeld than ever before. A long shot? Extremely. But it’s okay to dream sometimes.

May 11, 2004 @ 7:05 pm | Comment

“… military credentials are impeccable but so are his moral scruples and backbone…” Is the implication that Kerry’s are not???

The biggest problem with a McCain VP is the obvious contrast between him and Kerry – and Kerry would not look good. Kerry’s antiwar past still causes great anger and resentment amongst Viet Vets – even those solidily Democrat. IMHO – Kerry should stop rehashing old news and let sleeping dogs lie. Could you imagine a news conference with McCain “And what were your feelings while you were being beaten and your tormentors were playing tapes of Kerry calling GIs baby killers?’

I know a lot of Dems (myself included) who would vote for Bush before Kerry. Kerry is going to have to show people such as myself a lot before that will change.

May 11, 2004 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

I’ve had my own issues with Kerry, but the more I look at his career the more I feel at least part of my negative perception comes from the chorus led by the GOP and the media that cater to them. Bush has flip-flopped more than Kerry, and Kerry’s war record says something about the man, his leadership and his courage. Looking at his career and looking at Bush’s, I don’t see any comparison, Bush having failed or been mediocre at every step of his life, and Kerry excelling and achieving. I know, I’ve heard all the reasons why some dems would rather vote for Bush than for Kerry; I just don’t understand it. And I hope that those who say this have taken an objective look at the life and work and accomplishments of each. I will not only vote for Kerry, I hope to actively campaign for him and give it everything I have. He’s not my No. 1 choice, but he’s certainly a lot better than what we’ve got, and I see plenty there to admire.

May 11, 2004 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

Is it me, richard, or are more commenters doing their hardest to make you seem unsound?

So trashy of them.

May 12, 2004 @ 12:35 am | Comment

I don’t think so, Doug. It wouldn’t be very interesting if we all agreed on everything.

May 12, 2004 @ 8:03 am | Comment

McCain is without a doubt my first choice for VP. While I disagree with some of his positions, ie, his right-to-life stance, (as I do with Kerry also, ie, his affirmative action stance), I feel there is simply just too much at stake this November to allow what I consider “smaller” issues to cloud the bigger picture. National defense, deficit reduction, saving social security and health care are my primary concerns. A Kerry-McCain ticket would offer my country and I the best possible chance for a better future.

May 15, 2004 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

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