Craig Shirley

Every four years, the sun dawns over the “silly season” of pre-convention blather in Washington, centered mostly, on which of the prospective candidates for the vice presidential slot seemingly makes the most sense.

Inevitably, the conversations are dominated by those who know the least and have the least experience in campaigns come up with the lamest reasons why a given party’s nominee ought to nominate so and so, the more gimmicky, the better.

There is but one reason and one reason only to pick a vice presidential running mate beyond the obvious qualifications; and that is to unify a political party. For many years, both parties operated in more or less a state of equilibrium and so wisely, the moderate Eisenhower picked the conservative Nixon. The conservative Nixon picked the moderate Lodge, the conservative Reagan picked the moderate Bush and so forth. On the Democratic side, the moderate JFK picked the conservative LBJ, the conservative LBJ picked the moderate Humphrey, the conservative Jimmy Carter picked the moderate Mondale, and so forth.

As the parties have become more polarized, thanks in part to Barry Goldwater in 1964 and George McGovern in 1972, the tickets have become closer ideologically. Still, the GOP has its more conservative elements and its more moderate elements. Think Club for Growth vs. Ripon Society. The Democrats meanwhile have Vs. the “Blue Dog Democrats.”

John McCain and Barack Obama are no different, getting an unwanted earful emanating form the cacophony of absurdity from the punditry classes at the local drinking salons of Washington, on cable television and the Internet.

The possibility that Hillary Clinton might have won the Democratic nomination led some Republicans to argue for picking a woman for the GOP ticket, the evident reason being to out-pander the Democrats.

Obama does not have the problem of McCain, given his status. He simply needs to pick a boring white guy who is seen as incorruptible, stable, a family guy. Think Evan Bayh.

But now that Obama is on his way to the Democratic nomination, the woman talk has died down in the GOP though it set off a mad scramble to find an African-American to go on the GOP ticket. Problem is, they are in short supply these days in the Republican Party. So the next best thing the panderists thought was Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Jindal is a conservative, a Brainiac, and is also only about 12 minutes older than the constitutional age limit for the office. The panderists liked him though because he is a minority, of Indian descent. (Not that Indian, the other Indian.)

Craig Shirley

Craig Shirley is a Reagan biographer, a presidential historian and Chairman of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. His firm is assisting Scott Walker’s presidential campaign.