On Monday, the editors of The Wall Street Journal proposed that John Kerry choose an unconventional person as his vice-presidential running mate. Allow me to let the editors tell you the “best” candidate, as well as one potential “reason”:
If he thinks in conventional political terms, the safe bet is Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri. If he wants to make a bold choice, he will offer the job to retiring NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw. One prominent Republican says the idea of Mr. Brokaw on the Democratic ticket “worries me a lot.”
The prominent Republican is either an idiot or a good poker player. I suspect it’s an attempt to encourage stupidity among Democratic campaign strategists.
It’s irrational to think of Vice President Brokaw. Tom Brokaw is a comforting figure in the way that an old blanket brings back nostalgic memories of childhood. That doesn’t mean that the blanket will keep you warm today. Consider this rationalization:
John Thune, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Mr. Brokaw’s home state of South Dakota, agrees. He says Mr. Brokaw has been intrigued by politics ever since his days at the University of South Dakota. “It would be a fascinating out of the box choice,” he told me. A South Dakota Democratic state legislator assures me that Mr. Brokaw would be a good ideological fit for Mr. Kerry, with the added advantage that “no one thinks of him as a liberal.”
The editors continue by confirming that Mr. Brokaw “introduced Arnold Schwarzenegger to Maria Shriver at a celebrity tennis tournament in 1977”. For this, he should pay his penance to the Democratic party:
That introduction changed political history; few people believe that Mr. Schwarzenegger could have become governor of California without Ms. Shriver’s savvy support. If Mr. Brokaw resists entreaties to enter politics, perhaps Democrats will remind him he could balance off that unintended gift to the Republican Party by joining their own ticket this year.
That’s a stupid argument. At least this next speculation makes sense:
Mr. Kerry may decide the way to shake up the race is to make a truly unconventional choice, as Walter Mondale tried to do when he picked Ms. Ferraro, the first-ever woman on a national ticket, in 1984.
Tom Brokaw is the highest-paid reader in history. This does not qualify him to be Vice President of the United States. If Senator Kerry really wants to make a bold statement, he’ll accept the challenge presented by Senator John McCain:
“John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years,” McCain said Wednesday when pressed to squelch speculation about a Kerry-McCain ticket. “Obviously I would entertain it.”
“It’s impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk,” the Arizona senator told ABC’s “Good Morning America” during an interview about illegal steroid use. “They’d have to be taking some steroids, I think, in order to let that happen.”
That’s a brilliant move. Like most politicians, Senator McCain has his drawbacks. However, I voted for him in the Virginia Republican Primary in 2000. I probably would’ve voted for him in the presidential election if he’d beaten Bush. I like his public persona as a fighter and anti-politician. For example:
Unlike some other Republican senators, he hasn’t railed against Kerry, a fellow Vietnam veteran. McCain called the Kerry-Bush contest “the nastiest campaign so far that we have seen” and said he preferred campaigning for candidates instead of against their opponents.
Unfortunately, it seems that it’s not meant to be. The Associated Press recently added to the article:
Within hours, the Arizona senator’s chief of staff, Mark Salter, closed the door on that idea. “Senator McCain will not be a candidate for vice president in 2004,” Salter told The Associated Press, saying he spoke for the senator.
Why is it such an accepted concept that the President and Vice President must be from the same party? Virginia’s citizens elect the Governor and Lieutenant Governor separately. (We also elect the Virginia Attorney General. Do you think John Ashcroft would be the United States Attorney General if the citizenry were allowed to vote on that?)
I would welcome a bi-partisan ticket for President. For the clarity, though, this is why I think it’s a brilliant idea: Why not nominate the best two candidates possible? This election is dividing along ideological lines, but most elections focus on differences in implementation rather than differences in ideas. If something happens to the President, I’d rather have the most qualified person to step in instead of the most politically acceptable party member.