Litmus Test

LITMUS TEST….Scott Lemieux on the veepstakes:

I could see a case for Joe Biden if he hadn’t been in favor of the war. As it stands, I think it would be crazy to pick someone almost exclusively for foreign policy message who inevitably blurs the popular message of the Democratic candidate.

I just don’t see that. Do we really think that being opposed to the war in 2002 should be a litmus test for VP consideration in 2008? There’s an awful lot of rank-and-file Dems who supported the war, and this implicitly suggests that they should all still be in purdah even if they came to their senses years ago. That kind of insistence on ideological purity strikes me as a good way to lose votes, not gain them.

(Yeah, yeah, Drum, and you were one of those people in 2002. Of course you don’t think this should be a litmus test. True enough. But do you really want to send a message that supporting the war was not just a mistake, but something so heinous that it makes you unfit for higher office? I don’t think so.)

Anyway, it’s a sign of how bored we all are that we’re all chattering about this so much. I’m sure I’ll keep chattering too, but just for the record: I don’t think it matters much who Obama chooses. He isn’t likely to carry even a single additional state because he did or didn’t choose Biden or anyone else as his running mate. And to make it worse, even if his VP pick does make a difference, campaigns are such nonlinear events that it’s impossible to predict that difference ahead of time. It’s sort of a fun discussion to have, but every possible candidate has a dozen pros and a dozen cons that seem a lot more important at the time than they really are. In the end, VPs rarely swing either particular regions or particular demographics, so Obama’s choice probably isn’t as important as a lot of people think it is.

And as long as I’m making grand pronouncements that quite possibly might make me look like an idiot in the near future, here’s another one: among the states Bush won in 2004, I think Obama will win Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and maybe even Arkansas. That’s even accounting for the fact that he’ll lose a few points in some of those states for purely racial reasons. This might officially make me the most optimistic Obama supporter in the world, but there you have it.

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