Within a month (God willing), we’ll all know who the vice-presidential nominees are. Until then, though, we may as well guess/dream/feverishly hope.
FOR THE DEMOCRATIC TICKET:
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE): Probably the strongest choice. He has been a senator since the dawn of man and is now the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, so he is (and will be recognized as) thoroughly qualified. He showed in the primaries that he can be an energetic, gutsy, and straight-shooting campaigner who oozes gravitas. He’s not afraid to throw a punch and is thus well-suited to play the role of attack dog to Obama’s “virtuous statesman.” He can put to death that idiotic right-wing attack about Obama not holding any hearings for his F.R. subcommittee because, as chair, he can quickly say that Obama wasn’t supposed to hold any such hearings. The downside is that every story written about his selection would include a variation of this phrase: “Senator Biden will be able to compensate nicely for Senator Obama’s relative lack of experience.” Still, I think the cat’s out of the bag on that already.
REP. CHET EDWARDS (D-TX): Yes, this choice would have everyone under the sun reaching for their copy of the Almanac of American Politicsto figure out who he was. Yes, at least 10% of voting Americans would think John Edwards was on the ticket. But he would still be a refreshing and intriguing choice. He’s currently serving his ninth term in a highly conservative district, and he’s been reelected through savvy campaigning and positive branding as an independent-minded, military-loving Bubba of a Democrat (he’s been a leader on veterens’ issues). He’d add to Obama’s post-partisan aura, and his resume is substantial enough to keep the ticket credible without making it too bottom-heavy, as Biden might. Plus, he’s Bush’s congressman.
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): The junior senator from Indiana is a tad drab, but let’s face it, it wouldn’t matter. Bayh has the whole package: executive experience, kinda-sorta-foreign policy credibility from his Senate tenure, and the ability to clinch a new swing state, Indiana. He looks (and is) young, so the media will favorably compare the ticket to the halycon days of Clinton-Gore. He’d make a thoroughly reliable choice.
FOR THAT OTHER TICKET:
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R-MN): The press eventually got bored of speculating about him, but after being spotted in high-level huddles at the McCain HQ, he is certainly still a live possibility. He’s a Washington outsider who could come across as a credible economic populist; he yearns to bring about “Sam’s Club Conservatism” to attract working class votes. McCain knows very little about economics, but the pundisphere is too eager to suggest former business executives such as Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina to compensate as running mates. CEOs are the villains of today’s economy, and rather than putting one on the ticket, McCain should go with someone who can appear to authentically feel blue-collar workers’ pain. That ticket could very well attract the “Reagan Democrats” whom Hillary Clinton was so eager to bring on board.
SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM (R-SC): This might actually happen if McCain gets sick and tired of his staff constantly stressing the minor distinctions between and pluses and minuses of each of his options. Graham is one of his closer friends and is a credible enough senator with enough gray hairs to make him look wise. A McCain-Graham ticket would try very hard to hit voters over the head with its cumulative experience in government. If personal chemistry becomes McCain’s number one criteria, Graham could be the dark horse choice.
REP. TOM TANCREDO (CO): If only.