In any case, you can be sure that the two presidential nominees will have only one question on their minds: Who can add most to the strength of the ticket? Sentimentality ("Let's pick Joe -- he was with us from the start") will have nothing to do with it. Conceivably the job may have been bargained away in the battle for the nomination, but this was likelier in the good old days of smoke-filled rooms than it is now, when primaries choose most of the delegates.
So the question of the vice presidential choice is almost sure to involve, in both parties, who can do the most for the ticket. In the case of the Democrats, however, there is certain to be a powerful inclination to give the spot to Obama -- not because he fills that bill, or even because he was (in our hypothesis) the chief defeated contender for the nomination, but because, as an African-American, he represents such a powerful bloc in the Democratic Party. It is well known that African-Americans vote overwhelmingly Democratic, but it isn't always appreciated how large a force they are in a Democratic convention. A third, or even more, of the delegates are likely to be African-Americans.
The result may be that the Democratic ticket will seem, as already suggested, heavily tilted in favor of two of its biggest voting blocs: feminists and blacks. And that may not be an advantage in November.
For the Republicans, the problem will be how to add a little flavor to a ticket that otherwise may seem a bit too plain vanilla. Is there a woman or a "person of color" somewhere in the Republican portfolio who could do the trick? Clearly, in both parties, the selection of a vice presidential nominee is going to be an important consideration.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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