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7/8/2008
DEMS PLAYING ALFONSE AND GASTON WITH VEEP CHOICE

“After you, my dear Alfonse.”
No, no - After you, my dear Gaston.”
(”Alfonse and Gaston” - newspaper comic strip created by Edward Burr Opper)

When looking at the choice Barack Obama must make for the Vice Presidential nominee of the Democratic party, one is struck by the number of high profile candidates who have politely refused to run with the messiah.Reliapundit has compiled the list of “after you” candidates:

EDWARDS HAS SAID HE’S NOT INTERESTED.
JOE BIDEN SAYS HE’S NOT INTERESTED, BUT MIGHT SAY YES IF ASKED.
DITTO KERRY.
GOVERNOR TOM STRICKLAND OF OHIO HAS SAID HE’S NOT INTERESTED.
SENATOR BAYH SAID HE’S NOT INTERESTED - BUT MIGHT SAY YES.
GOVERNOR BREDESEN SAYS HE’S NOT INTERESTED.
WEBB HAS NOW SAID HE’S NOT INTERESTED.

RP draws an interesting parallel with the McGovern candidacy where George was so obviously going to lose hugely to Nixon that no one wanted to join him for the death watch. Finally, in desperation, McGovern turned to Missouri senator Tom Eagleton. Eagleton was a fine man, a good senator, but had undergone electro-shock therapy for depression about 10 years previously. In 1972, this was considered a disqualification for high office by most - even though McGovern stupidly backed Eagleton after the news broke and was forced within 48 hours to withdraw his candidacy - and I’m not so sure it would be widely accepted today.

The point being, no respectable potential Veep nominee would touch McGovern’s campaign with a ten foot pole.

The Obama campaign is beginning to smell a lot like the McGovern effort. Perhaps not so much because people don’t think he can win as much as the disaster-in-waiting his presidency could be. Seasoned pols like Governor Strickland and Senator Evan Bayh have politely declined the honor. Now, part of that may be the realization that they would not be Obama’s first choice, although Strickland would probably bring the candidate Ohio and Bayh, Indiana. Ditto Bredesen with Tennssee. And in a close race, any one of those states could help make the difference.

But the “after you” syndrome seems to have infected the campaign as other potentials who would be popular with the party have in effect said, “Don’t call me unless there’s no one else who will do it.”

But why? There are precious few professionals who think John McCain can pull it off. The GOP is in absolute disarray. From top to bottom, defeatism and depression have set in which almost guarantees big Democratic pick ups in the House and Senate.

And yet…

If Obama were such a shoo-in, why are so many candidates for the Vice Presidency taking their name off the chalk board? This is especially true of younger guys like Bayh, Bredesen, and Webb who have all been mentioned as possible presidential contenders some day. Serving 8 years in an Obama administration as Vice President would almost guarantee their ascension to the top spot on the Democratic ticket in 2016.

Are we missing something that these guys have already caught on to?

Obama’s poll numbers are good but taking into consideration all the factors involved, those numbers just don’t add up. With a screamingly bad economy in some parts of the country (and getting worse everywhere else) along with people desperately wanting “change” (whatever that means) coupled with the Republican brand being about as salable as dog food at a convention of gourmet cooks, by all rights Obama should be so far ahead at this point that McCain wouldn’t even be showing up in his rear view mirror.

But that is not the case. Despite a campaign in disarray with many Republican strategists criticizing the organization, the message, the themes, and the scheduling of McCain, Obama can’t shake the Arizona senator. Daily tracking polls by Gallup and Rasmussen have the race closer than the GOP could have dreamed at this point. Gallup has it 47-43 Obama while Rasmussen shows a 5 point Obama lead 49-44.

The big news from those tracking polls is that Obama can’t crack 50%. And the all important electoral college numbers at this point also show Obama lagging although he is doing slightly better than his national numbers would indicate. According to RealClear Politics running count, Obama has 153 solid electoral votes with 85 leaning his way for a total of 238 (270 needed to win). McCain has 93 solid and 73 leaning for a total of 163. The map currently shows 137 toss up EV’s - a number that is expected to grow to McCain’s detriment.

The problem for Obama is that McCain is running better in states like Washington, Oregon, Michigan, and Pennsylvania than Obama is running in some GOP leaners and toss ups. In other words, this is still a tight race in every way despite the perceived advantages of the Democrat.

And then there’s the matter of race that no one is taking for granted. No one can guess what the American people will do when they are faced with making a choice in the voting booth. In privacy and secrecy, with the curtains closed and no one looking over their shoulder, just how tolerant will the American people be? Perhaps a few of those candidates who are saying they don’t want the Veep job believe that in the end, race might make a difference.

Finally, there’s the Hillary factor. Since Mrs. Clinton wants the job, appearing to stand in her way would not be healthy politically. The Clintons have long memories and know how to treat their friends - and anyone they perceive as an enemy.

So I don’t necessarily see “The McGovern Factor” at work in the reluctance of so many A-list Democrats who are declining to serve as Veep on a ticket headed up by Obama. But I find it strange that McCain does not seem to be having a similar problem despite the fact that he finds himself very much in McGovern territory as far as the perception of his chances in the fall.

No doubt Obama will find a candidate - a good candidate - to run with him. But the process by which he chooses his running mate has revealed a hesitation among some Democrats to tie themselves too closely to their presidential candidate. Is it significant? I think it is and I believe one reason may very well be that some Democrats are not as confident of victory in November as they let on.

By: Rick Moran at 7:53 am
7 Responses to “DEMS PLAYING ALFONSE AND GASTON WITH VEEP CHOICE”
  1. 1
    Thomas Jackson Said:
    4:07 pm 

    This race looks more like 1972 every day. What states is Obama going to get that Kerry didn’t? On the oother hand why is McCain doing better in states than Bush did in 2004? We get the usual BS that claims Obama will take NC, Virginia or Georgia but I wish just one of these cretins would lay down his money. I’d cover it in a NY minute. The same with the polls that claim Obama is 15 points ahead. I recall in 1984 these polls said Mondale was ahead by the same margin.

    When I speak to people in stores, at the park, in my neighborhood I see no one who admits voting for Obama. Rather the talk is about the policies and flipflops of Obama and how he lies.

    Anyone but McCain would crush Obama but even McCain should beat this man. If only because like McGovern is was too extreme for the American people.

  2. 2
    MarkJ Said:
    6:08 pm 

    I’d say the experienced Donk pols already realize that Obama is basically a human roulette wheel: hit the right number and baby gets a new pair of shoes. Don’t hit the right number, and you lose the family farm.

    I suspect, accordingly, these pols know that the vaunted “Obama magic” will only last until the first big crisis (i.e., where he actually has to deliver results)…and if His Changeyness screws the pooch–and the smart money says he will–the Democratic Party will be going down with all hands in 2010.

    This is why if Obama loses in November, my money says that many experienced Democratic politicians will loudly whine about his loss…but, behind closed doors, quietly congratulate each other that McCain won.

  3. 3
    reliapundit Said:
    6:16 pm 

    thanks for the linkage, rick!

  4. 4
    highcotton Said:
    7:29 pm 

    A fine piece of political analysis imo, Rick. In fact, you’ve really been on a roll lately with some excellent posts at AT and PJM. So I definitely don’t mean to nitpick, but I would argue one small point with you — selecting Bredesen would NOT move Tennessee into the Democrat column.

    Phil Bredesen is a smart, hard-working guy with good leadership skills who’s managed to stay clear of political cesspools for the most part. When it came time to pull the lever, I (and most other thinking Tennesseans) opted for the serious dude with a (D) beside his name instead of the dolt with an (R) beside his. In the end, you have to go with the best man, even if it’s in spite of his politics instead of because of them. He’s been a good governor, so I think we made the right decision. But to suggest that he could pull off a seismic shift in this state by being put on the national ticket is silly. Hey, we didn’t vote for that obscene “favorite son” Al Gore, did we? True, it would be closer, since Bredesen is not a total sleazebag. But, with the exception of Memphis, we’re red no matter what.

    Of course, as you point out, it’s a moot point. Phil Bredesen is waaay too smart to get his name linked inextricably with that of a Marxist….

  5. 5
    still liberal Said:
    10:43 pm 

    Rick Moran, you know politics far too well to participate in this scrum. Every potential VP selection traditionally states that they have no interest in the job, but they are flattered to be mentioned. Anyone, in either major party, that would be foolish enough to say they are gunning for the veep slot would be instantly dropped from the list. I am no fan of Obama, but this McGovern/VP selection comparison? That dog won’t hunt.

  6. 6
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:03 pm 

    What’s the job pay? I might be interested.

  7. 7
    Thomas Jackson Said:
    1:51 pm 

    Still liberal:

    Oh sure we can all recall the same process with Kerry in 2004 or Bush in 2000.

    The Dhimmies can see the future and its going to be funny watching them explode as a loser like McCain beats their savior. It will be a black day for lefties every where.

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