The Vice-Presidency is not worth a bucket of warm piss.
--John Nance Garner, Vice-President 1933-41
Were it only true, Mr Garner. These days, the vice-presidency is potentially worth the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It's also worth 20 million or so disaffected Hillary Clinton voters, and working-class and rural folks who fear an African American might be too "elitist".
I know it seems like a long time ago, but I want to go back to the week leading up to the Democratic convention. If you'll remember, Barack Obama, with the help of the news media, was keeping us all guessing as to who is vice-presidential pick would be. Hillary Clinton? Jim Webb? Bill Richardson? Oprah Winfrey? We were all kept in suspense, on the edge of our seats, on tenterhooks, and hanging from a cliff. We bit our nails, and wiped the sweat off our brows. We waited, paced the floor, banged our heads against the walls, and crossed our fingers. And, as the clock slowly, and agonizingly, ticked, we stared at our cell phones, not wanting to miss even one second of that much longed after, much hoped for, much yearned over, and much anticipated magic text message!
If I want to be kept in suspense, I'll go out and rent an Alfred Hitchcock movie! As far as the vice-president goes, I want to know when Barack Obama knows! As soon as it pops into his head. Sooner, if possible! This is something that's going to have some affect over all our lives! I don't particularly want to be surprised. I want to know exactly what I'm getting. If a president made farting noises during a State of the Union address, that would be quite a surprise, but I doubt if it would instill us all with confidence.
In the end, the surprise wasn't much of a surprise. Joe Biden. Just who everybody expected. Why Joe Biden? Experience, I guess. In light of recent developments, you may have forgotten that John McCain had been making a federal case (well, he IS in the Senate) over Obama's relative lack of experience. But experience in government is different from that in, say, auto repair. Two experienced mechanics will probably come to the same conclusion that your car won't shift in reverse because you put motor oil where the transmission fluid should go. Government is different. There are experienced people who are for the war in Iraq, and equally experienced people against. There are experienced people who believe in some sort of national health care, and those who don't. Until the recent collapse of some of our largest financial institutions, experienced people even disagreed whether such institutions should be regulated. They still disagree as to whether they should be regulated before a collapse, or after (i.e., federal bailouts).
I voted for Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton in the Ohio Primary because I wanted someone who was against the Iraq war AT the time of the Iraq war. Would I have preferred an experienced anti-war candidate? Sure. But the Democratic establishment (i.e., the Clinton machine) couldn't bring themselves to provide one. So I took a chance on Obama. And what does he do? He picks as VP not only someone who voted for the war, but as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, strong armed other Democrats to vote for it. I know, I know. Obama was being "realistic", in the political sense. Well, so was Clinton, Dodd, etc.
On to McCain...
John McCain's VP pick was a surprise. Boy, was it a surprise, the equivalent of making hi-fi stereophonic fart noises during a State of the Union address. McCain apparently met Sarah Palin only once before choosing her. That must have been some meeting. Political expediency at first sight! Sarah Palin is governor of a state-Alaska--with less people than Cuyahoga County, where I'm writing from. In fact, the county could lose the entire population of Cleveland, and it'd STILL have more people!
So, why'd McCain pick her? Well, Obama had been making a federal case (he's in the Senate, too) about the need for change.
The need for change.
The crucial word in the above sentence is not so much "change" as "need". I don't think the people want change because they're, say, bored with Washington. Even if they were, they could always just switch from CNN to Tia Tequila (I've been tempted to do that). If it's change for the sake of change people want, the next president could just paint the White House purple with yellow polka dots (though that might clash with all those cherry blossoms). No. People don't want change because they're bored. They want change because things SUCK. At any rate, given McCain's voting record, the White House might just get painted a whiter shade of pale (apologies to Procol Harum), the only change being a switch from Glidden to Sherwin Williams.
Of course, if the unthinkable happens, and McCain dies in office (I'm being polite. It's not really all that unthinkable. The issue's been raised over and over again the last couple of weeks), Sarah would take over. Would that be change we can count on? If by count you mean body count. In a recent interview, she said it might be necessary to go to war with Russia. She must figure all those nukes collapsed along with communism.
So, where does all that leave us? With an inexperienced presidential candidate and experienced vice-presidential candidate who are both against the war in Iraq (Joe's come around) and believe the government should have some say in the economy, vs an experienced presidential candidate and inexperienced vice-presidential candidate who both support the war in Iraq and believe in laissez-faire.
In other words, Democrat vs Republican. Liberal vs conservative. Left vs Right.