Friday, May 23, 2008

Choosing a Vice President

Choosing a Vice President
By Jerome Grossman

The powers of the Vice President are severely limited in the Constitution of the United States: Article 2, Section 1 “In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President.” Article 1, Section 3. “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.”

Some of the founding fathers did not want a Vice President at all. Alexander Hamilton wrote for The Federalist Papers, No. 68, “The appointment of an extraordinary person, as Vice President, has been objected to as superfluous, if not mischievous.” It is indeed remarkable, given the innate tendencies of ambitious men, that no vice president has ever organized a coup or an assassination of a sitting President

Most Vice Presidents have not been given significant power or responsibilities by their Presidents. They were expected to stand and wait. Two recent exceptions were Vice Presidents Gore and Cheney, who achieved considerable power in their portfolios.

Nominees for Vice President are usually selected for political reasons, their ability to help the nominee for President get elected. They must help carry an important state or influence a large constituency. Gore and Cheney did not deliver on these political tests. Lieberman in 2000 and Edwards in 2004 failed utterly: they brought no appreciable constituency to the polls and failed to defeat Cheney in debates.

Republican nominee John McCain may be looking to strengthen his support among conservatives. For that he may tap a member of Congress with a perfect right wing voting record. If he goes for personality and humor, McCain might select Governor Mike Huckabee. For executive and business experience as well as good looks, there is always Governor Mitt Romney. One of McCain's considerations might be a young Vice President to balance his 71 years.

While Obama will be the favorite to win the November election, his choice of running mate could be most important given the competing factions in the Democratic Party. The female governors of Alaska, Arizona, and Kansas might help assuage the disappointment of feminists at the collapse of the Hillary campaign. Governor Bill Richardson would attract Latino votes. John Edwards received major support from organized labor. Governor Strickland of Ohio would help in the rust belt states. Or Obama might choose a candidate with military experience to offset McCain: Vietnam veteran Senator Jim Webb of Virginia or General Wesley Clark. To further his pledge of national unity, Obama might even consider Republicans Chuck Hagel or Colin Powell.


Nominee Obama has no problem in identifying his Vice President if he bases his decision on political practicalities: who can bring the largest number of votes, who has the largest constituency, who will best argue the Democratic platform against the Republican nominee for Vice President: Hillary Clinton. However, weighing on the scale is the fact that she is extremely controversial with high negatives in every poll. Would having an African-American and a woman on the ticket for the first time in American history be too much for the electorate to bear?


Hillary Clinton has fought Barack Obama to a virtual draw. On delegates, popular vote and super-delegates, Obama leads in one of the closest primary races in American political history. Hillary has supporters in all 50 states and many are passionate about her effort. She actually leads Obama among women, workers, whites and Hispanics and the primary votes are the proof.

Would Hillary accept the invitation? She would be the lady-in-waiting for her chance at the highest office in 2012 or 2016. She will have every incentive to make the Obama administration a success - to boost her own fortune down the road. And if she did not accept, preferring to stay in the Senate, the invitation would go a long way toward reconciling her supporters.


Will Bill Clinton be a distraction as he looks for ways to channel his energies and talents? No problem. If Hillary is elected Vice President she would have to resign her Senate seat in New York. President Obama could ask Governor David Patterson to appoint Bill to Hillary's seat. Mission accomplished. Bill is busy with a new career. Let the Senate worry.

4 comments:

Pradeep said...

Hillary shouldn't worry that if she is a vice president she wouldn't be in the limelight, that she would have just a back-up role. Coming to think of it, actually it wouldn't be a role totally unfamiliar to her, for that's what she had been doing for eight long years when hubby Bill was in the White House. She is quite used to this sort backseat driving.. don't you think so?..

an average patriot said...

Jerome
I would like Edwards but otherwise I think Hagel is quite intriguing. Hillary destroyed her shot with the RFK comment!
Here is the list as it is going around:
Joe Biden - The Deleware Senator has been in Washington for a long time and although he has the experience to be vice president, his long tenure would play against Obama’s “change” mantra. In the long run, I believe Biden would be more useful to the next administration as a strong ally in the Senate.
Bob Casey - A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer made a strong pitch for the PA Senator to be Obama’s running mate - they explained that he would help lock up Pennsylvania in the Fall. However, even though Hillary Clinton won the Keystone State in the primaries, George W. Bush lost the state in 2000 and 2004 and I just don’t see the state falling into the hands of the Republicans in a year when the party is is facing more troubles than Amy Winehouse. I believe Casey will make the short list, but I don’t think he’ll make it to the finals.
Hillary Clinton - There are a lot of Democrats out there who are aching for a unity ticket - some are calling it the dream ticket - but I just don’t see Obama choosing his main rival for the nomination unless pressured by the party as a way to get her to drop out of the race, which is a strong possibility.
Tom Daschle - The former South Dakota Senator is on the team doing the running mate search and some say his own name is on it - sound familiar? It should, Dick Cheney was in charge of finding Dubya a running mate. Actually, Daschle would be a good VP, but like Biden and others on the list, he runs counter to the “change” mantra.
Chris Dodd - another long-time name in Washington, but unlike the others, the Connecticut Senator has always remained a vibrant force for change in the way things are done inside the Beltway. I think Dodd could make it to the final four and perhaps the final two.
John Edwards - Another name people are bandying around as half of a dream ticket, but I don’t believe the former North Carolina senator is interested in running for the number two spot for a second straight time. He wants to be number one and if he has to wait until 2012 or 2016, so be it. Besides, I believe Obama has Edwards in mind to be the next Attorney General.
Chuck Hagel - An interesting choice. A maverick Republican as part of the Democratic ticket. The Nebraska Senator could bring an interesting nuance to the race. Although he has split from his party on the question of Iraq, he remains a staunch fiscal and social conservative. Although his name would bring some moderates, Republicans and independents to the ticket, it would probably turn a lot of Democrats off.
Tim Kaine - While the Virginia Governor could guarantee the Old Dominion in the Fall, I have read that Kaine has already been chopped off the short list.
Janet Napolitano - One of the first women in the country to back Obama, the Arizona Governor may be too bland to go on the ticket and I believe another female Governor has the edge over Napolitano.
Sam Nunn - The former Georgia Senator suffers from inside-itis. His time in Washington precludes him from the list and like Tim Kaine, I have read that his name has alreay been stricken from the list.
Bill Richardson - I like the New Mexico Governor a lot. I think he would make a wonderful Vice President, but his is the third name I have read has been cut from the list. I believe Obama has Richardson in mind as Secretary of State.

Tim Roemer - the former Indiana Congressman has been seen with Sen. Obama during several campaign stops in the Hoosier State, but I don’t believe his name carries nearly enough clout to help in the Fall. Not even close to making it to the finals.

Kathleen Sebelius - This is the female Governor I was referring to earlier. I believe she might actually help bring a red state into strong play (her state of Kansas) and if I was a betting man, I would put my money on Sebelius actually making the final cut. It may come down to Obama choosing between her and Dodd. In the long run, Connecticut will already be in Obama’s column and Kansas would be a big prize!
Ted Strickland - If there was anyone who could come close to making it up there with Dodd and Sebelius, it might be the Ohio Governor. With the way Ohio went in the previous two presidential contests and with Obama’s problems with the White working class, Strickland could prove crucial in getting Obama into the White House.
Jim Webb - Another Virginian on the list, the first term Senator could bring help to Obama with veterans groups, but he may be considered too inexperienced by some - although not by me.

Anon-Paranoid said...

Hillary Clinton don't deserve to hold any elected office after stating that one of the reasons she is staying in is if something terrible should happen to Senator Obama.

You may be wondering what I'm talking about. Well she brought up the fact that RFK was assassinated in June of '68 as one of the paths to gaining the nomination.

As far as I'm concerned she is nothing but White Trash and she should take that other piece of White Trash Bill and crawl back under the rock they crawled out from.

My two cents for what it's worth.

God Bless.

jb said...

Obama has to pick Clinton for VP, and hope that she takes him up on the offer. She may not accept, but if she's not on the ticket, she and Bill will be behind the scenes sabotaging BHO's bid so she can run again in 2012. If she becomes VP, he will have a difficult time competing with both of the Clintons for attention. Obama is in a difficult position- he tried to kill the Queen, but succeeded in wounding her severely but not fatally. She is still around to do major damage to him. His dilemma is to decide if he wants her inside the tent pissing out, or outside pissing in. She will not go gently into the night.

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