Since the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination began, roughly, on Inauguration Day 2005, it is not too early to speculate on who might be the leading candidates for the eventual nominees’ vice presidential pick.
The media’s attention is focused for now on the three-way dust-up between Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), liberal Hollywood mogul and former Clinton supporter David Geffen and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). The media cannot avoid a story filled with Hollywood drama and the politics of sex and race. Geffen, who hosted a megastar fundraiser for Obama, told the New York Times, “Everybody in politics lies, but (the Clintons) do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”
By comparison, the Republican nomination race is as exciting as MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Like Olbermann’s show, no one is watching.
Poor John Edwards has been relegated to bridesmaid status, but he won’t catch the vice-presidential garter this time. As the late Texas Governor Ann Richards might say, he can’t hep it. Edwards is the white male with perfect hair, a former vice-presidential candidate with a huge new mansion. At least Sen. John Kerry, who served in Vietnam, had the good sense to not enter the race. John Edwards is so 2004.
Given the liberal media’s characterization since 2001 of Vice President Dick Cheney as “Bush’s Brain,” the eventual Democratic nominee will surely choose someone with the charisma of the proverbial bucket of warm saliva. Since the likely Democratic nominee will be a “first,” as the media will repeat ad nauseam for the next century or so, he or she must balance the demographics of the ticket by selecting a relatively unknown white male. One “first” at a time is big enough a bite to take politically.
Let us consider the possibilities. It is probably safe to assume that if Clinton or Obama wins the nomination, they won’t choose the other as their running mate. A female or African-American presidential candidate cannot have a running mate who will overshadow their historical bid. Bill Richardson is probably out, given his past life as a cabinet secretary and U.N. ambassador in Bill Clinton’s administration. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who wants to replace the Department of Defense with a Department of Peace, is out. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who has already characterized Obama as “articulate” and “clean,” shoots his mouth off more than Howard Stern. He’s out. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) hails from the northeast and is best known for, well, he’s not known for anything. Dodd is out.
Which brings us to the governors.
Three of the six sitting Democratic governors whose terms expire in 2008 are white males with a biography that would balance the ticket politically and geographically for conservative Democrats and independents. They are Brian Schweitzer of Montana, Mike Easley of North Carolina and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Schweitzer has an extensive background in agriculture, has owned a number of agricultural businesses and advised lawmakers on state and federal farm policies. He and his wife have developed irrigated cropland in four continents. Easley is a former district attorney and attorney general from a southern state. According to his bio, USA Today named him one of the nation’s top “drug busters.” Manchin, also from the south, has a business background and served as West Virginia’s Secretary of State. He gained a measure of notoriety by advocating for safer mining standards following the 2006 Sago mine explosion.
Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack just dropped out of the presidential race, citing a lack of money. Well, that and the fact he was hovering around one percent national support in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Vilsack’s timing in exiting the race may play to his eventual favor. Vilsack is dull as paint primer and was raised in an orphanage, rendering him a safe vice-presidential pick for Clinton or Obama. Vilsack, free from the burden of governing, can spend the next year making grand speeches to “unite the party” on topics ranging from ending the war on terrorism tomorrow to claiming that tax cuts cause global warming.
If Clinton or Obama eventually becomes president, their vice-president will serve his term in a virtual witness protection program. The Clinton outfit, particularly, will give the cement shoes treatment to any administration official who dares embarrass Hillary. The Clinton or Obama administration will not be sidetracked or eclipsed by a white male with his own future presidential aspirations.
One thing is for sure. If Hillary wins her party’s nomination, her vice president won’t be David Geffen.
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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