Since most of the DemoConvention 2008 mania for today is yawn invoking, I just briefly wanted to offer up some thoughts on where I think John McCain might go in his Vice Presidential selection.
Anyone who hasn’t been on Mars (which ought to be nobody) in the last couple days knows that Barack Obama picked as his running mate that long standing Washington insider, Joe Biden. I made the case for Biden the other day, explaining that it is necessary to have an insider like Biden, because lets face it: Obama’s a newbie. You can make the argument for or against that a Biden pick just emphasizes his inexperience, but I think Biden represents something else: connections and knowledge of the populace. Biden can give to Obama what a fellow “outsider,” if you will, could not. Biden can put Obama in connection with people that he knows.
More than that, Biden may be able to make suggestions to Obama as to who would make a good Cabinet member. Who from Washington’s past and present would be ideal. Since, while I think Obama has some ideas now, he’s probably open to what someone else might suggest. There’s a risk in having your insider Vice President help you in choosing department secretaries, of course, one that the President found out: cronyism. After all, eight years ago, George W. Bush picked uber-insider Dick Cheney as his running mate. That, combined with contacts from H.W.’s and Reagan’s term gave us the motley crew we saw for a while, and still continue to see.
So, just as Obama’s pick of Biden may help him in deciding who would make a good Secretary of Defense, for example, by combing through those people who’ve worked in Washington, John McCain picking a relative “outsider” could work in much the same way.
Say McCain picks Romney, or Palin, or Pawlenty, or Crist, or even Ridge (yea, I know he was SECDHS; give me a minute). There are some people that might be able to name some names for McCain, give him some suggestions for options to consider outside Washington. Yet, there are some dangers in naming for two names on the above list. Romney hadn’t held political office (appointed or otherwise) before 2003 and Palin before 2006. So, while they might be able to help somewhat in Cabinet selection, Romney and Palin are probably not the best people to approach if you want to meet some people that they’ve met.
Still, a McCain pick might not even be expected to fulfill some of these duties. Perhaps the reason McCain has looked at some many outsiders as possibilities is that he knows the importance of appealing to Average Joe America. As an uber-insider himself, McCain needs to show that he’ll listen to the concerns of those in the states, and what better way to do that than by selecting a governor, who has to do that job all the time? In that case, Romney is probably back on the list (Ridge only served as governor for two years longer, after all), but Crist probably joins Palin in being off the list in this case.
Yes, in both these cases, Ridge is an outsider. Even though he served as the Secretary of Homeland Security, it was only for two years. If Obama’s nearly four years in the Senate makes him an outsider, Ridge’s two years of Secretary certainly does as well.
Finally, the strongest argument that McCain will pick an outsider is probably the simplest: most of the names bandied around by analysts and water-tested by the McCain camp have been outsiders. Sure, insiders like Joe Lieberman have had their names thrown into the mix as well, but mostly, it’s been outsiders. Compare that to the rather insider-heavy rumored shortlist Obama had.
So, while an outsider pick for McCain is not a guarantee, there’s already strong evidence that it might happen, and, I think, a good argument for it. It would definitely be an interesting dynamic for the general election. On one side, a self-proclaimed outsider running with an uber-insider. On the other, an uber-insider running with a unambiguous outsider.