Heading into the next (but not final) round of the Democratic primary, here’s a tantalizing question: Whom would the Democratic finalists pick as running mates?
First, let’s take last night’s South Carolina winner, Sen. Barack Obama. If elected, he would become the first President of color, as well as one of the youngest Commanders-in-Chief in history. For Obama, it would make sense to select a running mate who (1) brings impeccable foreign policy and military experience, and (2) can personally deliver at least a couple swing states. To me, no one else comes to mind except Virginia’s political wunderkind, Sen. Jim Webb.
A Vietnam veteran, lawyer and Navy Secretary under President Reagan, Webb left the GOP after becoming disgusted with George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy. Having already vanquished a Goliath (in George Allen), Webb would help Obama carry Virginia — which has not voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since 1964. With his military, Reagan, and Scotch-Irish credentials, Webb would also help Democrats make inroads in other swing states such as Ohio, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, and West Virginia. Finally, like Obama, part of Webb’s family is Asian American: he and his Vietnamese American wife (corporate securities lawyer Hong Le Webb) have a baby daughter.
Next, let’s take Sen. Hillary Clinton. If elected, she would become the first female President, as well as the first First Lady to be elected to the White House. Clinton should pick a running mate who (1) has consistently opposed the Iraq war, (2) can excite the Democratic grassroots and netroots, and (3) can form an effective team with her. Although Obama certainly fulfills the first two criteria, he would be eliminated by the third requirement: the race between them has become intensely personal. Which leaves … DNC Chair Howard Dean.
Gov. Howard Dean, MD? Some may find this idea preposterous. While he may be (unfairly) remembered for the Scream, the good doctor (and DNC Chair) still commands fierce loyalty. Indeed, in 2003, Dean had the courage to oppose the Iraq war and support civil unions. What is more, party leaders give Dean high marks for his highly effective DNC leadership. Under his dynamic 50-state strategy, the Democratic Party has become much more competitive in former GOP strongholds. Indeed, Dean’s painstaking efforts to rebuild the party enabled Democrats to retake both the U.S. House and Senate in 2006.
Meanwhile, who will win the GOP’s VP sweepstakes? A good place to start would be with a charismatic ordained minister, Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Between preachers and doctors and lawyers, the meek could truly inherit the earth — as well as the White House.
— Gautam Dutta