Monday, August 25, 2008

The High Road

I wrote an article about Obama's Vice Presidential pick on July 17th and said this about Joe Biden,

I believed then, as I do now, that Joe Biden is probably the most qualified person that Obama could have chosen for the position. I also think that he's the wrong choice for the position as well. I also wrote in that same article,

"That being said, I don't think picking the "best qualified person" for the job is what is required here."

I stand by that statement today. Obama picked the person who he thought would make the Vice President, not the person who gave him the best chance to actually win the White House. The Democrats are beginning to build themselves a wonderful tradition of doing the right thing. Al Gore did the right thing in 2000 when he didn't challenge the Supreme Court ruling that gave the election to George Bush. John Kerry did the right thing by not answering the ridiculous charges of the swift boaters in 2004. And now Obama has done the right thing by picking the most qualified person for the VP spot.

The question that has to be answered by the Democratic leadership at this point is whether they would rather win or be right. Unfortunately, I believe (at least recently) that they have shown that they would rather be right. The reason that the Republicans have been so successful at the Presidential level, over the last 40 years, is because they never question what the ultimate goal of the campaign is. The Republicans have been willing to use "any means necessary" in order to defeat their Democratic opponent. I honestly believe that without the interference of Ross Perot, we would be facing this election having elected only one Democrat in the last 40 years. The Republicans successfully exploited the backlash against the Civil Rights movement in the sixties to turn the South into a solid base of support. The solid South combined with the various means of personal attacks and innuendo they have employed have turned into a practically unbeatable combination at the Presidential level. It took the scandal of Watergate for Jimmy Carter to win (just barely) in '76. And it took Ross Perot stealing a large percentage of votes from George Bush Sr. to propel Bill Clinton into the White House in '92.

Picking Joe Biden as a running mate, does allow Barack Obama to fill in some of the gaps on his resume for the top spot. It does not however, fill in any of the holes in the electoral map. I previously mapped out two strategies for Obama to actually have a chance to win the election in November. One was to try and flip Virgina and the other was to try and flip the "big states", Florida or Ohio. The first strategy would have required that he pick someone from Virgina as his running mate. While I don't think that VP can deliver a state, Virginia is basically a toss up and the few voters who might be influenced to vote for a ticket that has a native son on it, might have just been enough to tip the state. The only VP choice that could have affected the big States was Hillary Clinton. She has a lot of support in both of the states, but I think her presence would have made an especially big impact in Florida. Older, female voters would have felt much more comfortable voting for an Obama-Clinton ticket than they probably feel voting for an Obama-Biden ticket. Hillary Clinton's supporters were not only treated to Obama picking someone other than her as VP, they also got the news that she wasn't even vetted by Obama's VP committee. Do you think that this slight (whether real or imagined) will make her most ardent supporters more or less likely to vote for Obama?

As far as McCain goes, he has a chance to show that he understands that this is about winning in November. Mitt Romney would put him in a position to win both Nevada and Colorado and perhaps be competitive in Michigan. If Romney could help swing those "up for grabs" states in his direction, he would have landed a significant blow to Obama's electoral strategy. I think Romney may hurt him in some of the deep South states, but his leads are unassailable in that region (with the possible exception of Georgia). I think that Romney does more good than harm. Of course if he would like to go for a landslide, he could make the bold choice of picking a woman as his VP. While Romney would help provide him with a tactical victory, putting a woman on the ticket may provide the road to a huge victory. It's a much riskier strategy than picking Romney but the rewards could also be much greater. However, unlike the Democrats, he has fewer women of prominence to chose from. The best pick would be Condoleezza Rice, but that would tie him too closely to the polices of the Bush administration. Kay Bailey Hutchinson is the senior Senator from Texas, but she doesn't seem to be interested in the job. Sarah Palin is the Governor of Alaska, but practically no one knows who she is outside of her home state. And Carly Fioria is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and has been a very vocal support or McCain, but doesn't have any Washington experience. McCain could go the for the brass ring by trying to appeal to Hillary Clinton's supporters. If his VP pick were able to make a compelling case to those disaffected voters, it might just lead to a landslide on election day. In the end though, I think he'll end up with Romney (they'll both hold their noses), because even though they personally can't stand each other, they understand that winning is more important than their feelings.

I am convinced that Barack Obama is a man of principle. I know that attacking others makes him uncomfortable (see how uncomfortable he was using the Wal-Mart line against Hillary Clinton in one of their debates). He would never question John McCain's loyalty to his family (considering McCain's behavior during his first marriage), or his honesty (considering McCain's entanglement in the Keating Five scandal), regardless of how many times McCain questions his loyalty to America. I know that he probably considered picking Hillary Clinton as merely a politically expedient choice. He probably felt that she was simply not the best person for the job. I can respect his integrity, I can admire his fortitude. However, by taking the high road, he may just have conceded the winning road to the Republicans once again. I have nothing against Joe Biden and I actually admire what he done over his 36 years in the Senate. As I stated earlier, he would have been my choice too if all things were equal. Unfortunately, all things are not equal and his selection does not help to tip the scales in Obama's favor. Joe Biden was the wrong choice for all the right reasons.


Ted said...

Despite the Dems and the allied main stream media’s desperation to see Romney as McCain’s Veep, Mitt is clearly out, with (1) Obama doubling down on the class warfare theme (McCain’s 7 houses) and (2) McCain doubling down with ads showing the hypocrisy of Biden attacking Obama in the primaries — Romney did way more than that contra McCain.

This leaves only Govs Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty. Pro-abortion Ridge and Dem-Lieberman were never real considerations, despite relentless media goading. Pawlenty’s lackluster TV performances, coupled with Palin pizzazz, the primacy of oil drilling and the ticked off women/Hillary voters, does now portend a McCain/Palin checkmate on the Dems. This is so albeit the Dems and liberal media dare not mention Palin’s name, that is, everyone but…..

And if there’s any question as to Palin being uniquely positioned and able to more than nullify Biden in debate, see the excellent discussion at

Team McCain, well done!!!

Michael Hew said...

Thanks for the comment. I would agree with you that the "7 houses" issue would seem to preclude Romney from consideration but I don't believe it does. Romney is rich. That's a given, but his biggest liability is probably his religion, not his wallet. I think that his Michigan roots and his percieved strength on economic issues give him a leg up the rest of the potential candidates.

Michael Hew said...

I have to apologize to Ted for doubting him.