Veep Talk

VEEP TALK….A couple of weeks ago Steve Teles wrote a post arguing that Jim Webb would be Barack Obama’s best choice for vice president. You can read the whole thing here, but most of it boils down to the fact that Webb is a guy who can appeal to blue-collar, military-loving, Reagan Democrats, and Obama needs that. Today, Eve Fairbanks says that isn’t really true:

Thanks to their analogous symbolic roles, Webb and Obama have one more politically important and bizarre similarity: They appeal to the same voters, wine-track Democrats who come out in unprecedented droves to vote for a black man or a hillbilly white because they want their party to be bigger than themselves. While you’d expect Webb to attract poor, rural beer-trackers, in his 2006 Senate race he didn’t do any better than the previous Democratic candidate had among Appalachian voters in southwestern Virginia; instead, he was propelled to victory by Northern Virginia suburbanites — Obama’s base.

This reinforces my skepticism about Webb as VP. My biggest issue with Webb is that I think he’d be too obvious a choice: the press corps would (probably correctly) immediately interpret it as a sign that Obama was picking Webb to shore up his military cred, and this would be a tacit admission that he agrees with McCain’s fundamental criticism that he doesn’t have CinC credentials. In much the same way that picking an ostentatiously young running mate would merely highlight McCain’s age, picking an ostentatiously hawkish running mate would merely highlight Obama’s lack of military experience.

But if Fairbanks is right, it’s even worse that that: not only would Obama end up ceding ground he shouldn’t, but in return he wouldn’t actually get any help among the target audience. He’d just end up attracting the same people he already attracts.

Overall, I don’t have any strong feelings about who Obama ought to pick right now — though I don’t think either Hillary Clinton or John Edwards would be good choices (and I’m not sure either of them wants the job), and I’m not keen on Webb either. Based on a fairly low information “blink” kind of test, I guess my top picks right now are Joe Biden and Kathleen Sebelius. But I could be pretty easily converted to half a dozen other candidates too.

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