Seth: Not that the mainstream media is finally admitting what we’ve all known for much longer, we can, just as Obama has, begin to look to November. Central to Obama’s strategy, probably more so than history teaches in regards to past campaigns will be his Vice-Presidential selection. There is an old political adage that says a Vice-Presidential candidate won’t get you into the White House, but will stop a candidate from getting there. I disagree with this. People generally don’t go to the polls with the VP nominee on their minds, but the VP does play an important role in the campaign. The VP will open doors to different demographics and ensure various interest groups that the presidential candidate believes in their cause and will work to advance their agenda while in office. Primarily, during the campaign the VP nominee is a door opener and serves to smooth the presidential candidate’s rough spots with key constituencies.
In respect to Mr. Obama, his rough spots tend also to be his strengths. His fresh perspective and the fact that he hasn’t been jaded and is not beholden to people and groups that helped him climb the Washington ladder is also known as inexperience. His diverse experiences and unique background are stumbling blocks for traditional, older, and oftentimes white voters. It is reported that he has problems with women, middle class laborers and less-educated demographics, and people point to his losses in West Virginia, PA, and Ohio as evidence of this. This weakness is why people think John Edwards’ endorsement is so important. It’s also why people are already clamoring about the idea of an Obama-Edwards ticket.
Having Edwards on the ticket will do all the things I mentioned before. Edwards’ base of support has been working class workers without college degrees. The same ones that Hillary claims Obama won’t win. Having Edwards on the ticket will break the ice these voters are encased in, with regard to supporting Mr. Obama. John Edwards is also a good fit for Obama in terms of personality and philosophy. There are both likeable candidates with seemingly strong character and conviction. In terms of November 08, Edwards main focus while he was campaigning has been poverty. With the direction of the economy and the central role it will play in the election, there definitely needs to be a voice for the people most harshly affected by increases in energy, food, and other costs – those who have the least. Furthermore, Edwards doesn’t have the problem that Clinton supporters are banking on: lack of vetting. One of the Clinton camp’s last hopes is that some catastrophic discovery from Obama’s past will be revealed, convincing super delegates to support her. Even if that doesn’t happen, the possibility that something could come out once he is the nominee is also a slight glimmer of light for them. Edwards has been thoroughly vetted. After a Senate campaign, two tries for the Democratic nomination, and being on the ticket is 04, I would be very surprised if there is anything that our opponents don’t know about him and his family.
Edwards would certainly bring strength to the ticket, but he would also leave something to be desired.
Ray: I think that Seth’s analysis is great and I agree with a lot of what he said. Other than that, I don’t really know Obama will choose as his running mate but unlike most people in the US, my view of the Vice President is not that of a “second place” position.
It irks me when people suggest that if Hillary Clinton isn’t the nominee for President, she can take “the number 2” spot of VP. To me, this trivializes the position. The office of Vice President of the United States is not something reserved for the loser of a primary election. It is reserved for someone who best compliments the will, desire, and organization of the President. I intentionally ommitted philosophy because sometimes it can be a great advantage to have an executive that approaches the same situation from a different perspective.
The intent of the Vice President is primarily to serve as a tie-braking vote in the Senate, and to take over as President if the elected President becomes unable to serve in that position. But recent history has proven that the Vice President can be and probably should be so much more than what the constitution requires.
Hate him or love him, Dick Cheney has been a very strong Vice President. He has been given a great amount of authority under President Bush and has been a key voice in many major decisions that affect our nation, including the Iraq war. Just as in corporate America, executives in a political administrations are given much more authority to act on behalf of the President, much more so than any time in the past.
In other words, the VP is not a figure-head nor a consolation prize. It’s a serious position in which serious work must be done to increase the effeciency of an administration. Whoever Barack Obama chooses will have to agree with a great deal of his political philosophy and will also need to possess the skills needed to be a great executive, of which popularity may not be one of them (i.e. Rumsfeld).