Thursday, April 10, 2008

VP Hagel?

Marc Ambinder has given his short list of VP candidates for McCain and Obama (what, no Clinton? Let's just say that ship has sailed...).

On the Obama list is Chuck Hagel, Republican Senator from Nebraska.

Now, Chuck Hagel's a decent enough senator, for a Republican. But Chuck Hagel is a Republican! Keep in mind that one of the key things a Vice President does is wait around to run for President in eight years. That's why people accept the offer-being the de facto incumbent carries significant advantages in name recognition and credit-taking for a successful administration.

Cheney being too infirm to run (you do realize that's the only reason, right?), and Gore having run away from Clinton's accomplishments (and scandals) were seriously anomalous. And Quayle was...well...Quayle-and all he had to run on was his name, which had become a joke and the legacy of Bush I, which the voters rejected after one term. He was even too young to have any Reagan residue left over on his suit. So of course he went nowhere in 1996 or 2000.

But don't let all that recent VP electoral failure blind you to the reality that there is a significant advantage for a Vice President entering a presidential race. Bush I, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Truman-all were VP's, and they make up 45% of the Presidents since 1950. There isn't any position that has a better pre-presidential track-record.

I don't want Obama to give anyone who will appoint Scalias, Robertses, Alitos, or Thomases a leg-up in the race to be his successor. Besides, this race will be freighted with enough history without some sort of unity ticket.

If Senator Obama wants to make more history, he can do so by choosing an accomplished woman for VP, but he should leave the Republican VP nominations to McCain.


Anonymous said...

It does not matter whether Chuck Hagel is a republican or not. What is important is that he has proven himself to be a man of conscience who puts being an American above either political party. IMHO that is a good recommendation.

There are a few people in Congress who do not accept the newly installed corrupt management of our political system, at least not to the self-destructive extent the current administration is married to it.

Hagel, Feingold, and a handful of others have had the courage to say that this administration has gone too far, and would have done more if even a vocal minority pushed them with concern.

Politicians, especially democratic ones learned the hard way that when the media is in one's hip pocket it is possible to get away with practically anything, even treason, (as is the case with Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby in which the President commuted the only leverage the prosecution had to get to the bottom of the criminal scandal.) Although if a democrat sneezes the story becomes, "Irresponsible politician spreads virus demonstrating callous disregard for public health."

It is not magic that Dick Cheney remains vice president; it is the protection of the media that keeps him out of prison.

Disappointing, as the media is to the people it is a powerful ally for the corrupt. Sadly, today's pundits and journalist drool over money and status more than they reveal concern for realistic reporting and objective reality. They abandoned their posts as protectors of freedom and have become defenders of the indefensible.

jiminy jilliker said...

Actually, it does matter that Hagel's a Republican-for the reasons I outlined.

I feel strange saying it-I didn't used to be so partisan, but I've seen what this administration has wrought and I'll be damned if I'm going to happily watch more of it happen.

As I mentioned, I'm very concerned about federal court appointments. I don't think a man who has a 0% rating from NARAL, who voted no on preserving habeas corpus, and who voted yes on a flag desecration amendment is likely to appoint judges (or justices) I want on the bench. Those issues (and others) indicate a fundamental disconnect between how I view government and how Hagel does.

I'm not saying he isn't an honorable man, or that I haven't been happy to see him stand up to Bush.

I'm just saying that's not enough. And If Obama can win without giving a Republican a leg-up in 2016 (or 2012-who knows how that would work?), he should do so.

Brendan said...

I'm with you, JJ. Hagel's one good stance -- on Iraq -- does not at all outweigh his wrongheadedness on other issues.

I don't think there's any political advantage to it, either. For every moderate or crossover voter gained, I bet Obama would cause several members of the base to just stay home. If you want a VP candidate with conservative cred and the same point of view on Iraq, and that's all you care about, Jim Webb will do much better.

(Webb is not my first choice, just to be clear. I haven't really picked one, yet.)

I find it hard to believe that Ambinder thinks Hagel is seriously on the short list. I think he was either trying to generate buzz or being the sort of pundit who gets a little lost in fantasy -- the same sort of thinking that causes the inevitable quadrennial predictions about brokered conventions.

Of course, the worry is there that Ambinder is suffering from High Broderism. We'll have to watch for this.

jiminy jilliker said...

I agree with the whole of your assessment, Brendan.

I generally approach Ambinder with the understanding that, like most pundits, he's more interested in novelty and cleverness than reality or what's best for the country (see Kaus, Mickey).

The last time Ambinder opened a comment section for suggestions about who Obama should pick for VP, I suggested Gary Hart. He's got national security cred like it's going out of style, gravitas, and it's probably been long enough for the Donna Rice thing to blow over.

Then again, he's only three months younger than McCain, and that might kill the "senile old coot" angle.

Brendan said...

Comparing Ambinder to Kaus is a little harsh, but I agree with your larger point about what motivates pundits.

Gary Hart for VP is an interesting thought. From what I know of him, I wouldn't be personally opposed -- he seems like a smart guy from what stuff of his that I've read.

However, he's deader than dead as far as political viability goes. You're probably right that sex scandals don't matter as much anymore, particularly old ones, but in his case, I think his name has been permanently tarred. Most people need only hear his name to dismiss him, even without quite knowing why.

I remember when that whole thing happened. I had no problem with him getting his freak on, but I was completely turned off by his political cluelessness. As I remember it, he was being pestered by reporters who had little beyond whispers to work with, and he not only continued to play around, he also dared the press to catch him. Maybe it's because he came of age when politicians could skate on things like this (cf. JFK), but I still was repulsed by the lack of judgment.