Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 4, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

McCAIN FOR VEEP?....Washington Monthly editor Paul Glastris has been thinking about John Kerry's search for a running mate, a search being led by longtime Democratic insider Jim Johnson. Paul emailed these thoughts to me earlier today:

It is clear to me, and to at least some people close to Kerry, that the single best thing Kerry could do to win is pick John McCain as his running mate. In fact, this seems so obvious to me as to be nearly beyond debate. With McCain as veep, we win, period.

And yet there's this sort of oh-it'll-never-happen tone to the discussion. Either this is a put-on, or a reflection of the gut difficulty tribal Democrats have with political intermarriage. Maybe Jim Johnson is one of them. Or maybe and this would be my fervent hope, and really the only read that makes political sense Johnson is in charge of the Potemkin search effort, or the fallback search effort, while Kerry is quietly talking to McCain, and McCain is laying out his terms.

If I were McCain, those terms would be stiff. I'd be saying, "Here are my ten issues (balance the budget, campaign finance reform, staying the course in Iraq, whatever). Make them yours. If, once in office, I see you backsliding on these issues, I am warning you now, I WILL stir up trouble. You think Gore and Cheney had power in the West Wing, you ain't seen nothing yet. Yes, I will be a loyal veep, yes I will back you up on the issues important to you, even those I may disagree with. Yes, you will have to make decisions that I may not agree with that I will have to support publicly. But on these 10 issues, my issues, I will be the judge of how tenacious you are in fighting for them, and if you abandon them you will rue the day you picked me as your running mate."

Kos has some thoughts on this as well, and points out that despite McCain's cuddly image he has an awfully conservative voting record to feel comfortable in the Democratic party. Still, he agrees that a Kerry/McCain ticket would be "pretty freakin' powerful."

As for me, I'm not sure. On many of the issues that McCain really cares about he's practically a Democrat already, and on the others either the president has little real power (abortion) or would likely follow a pretty centrist course anyway (Iraq). He's also been pretty critical of the Republican party lately. However, I guess I'd still lay long odds against it happening, since even bipartisan cabinets have mostly gone the way of the dodo bird these days. The only remnant of that tradition left is that one minor cabinet official is normally from the opposite party.

Still, if Clinton could pick William Cohen as his Secretary of Defense, why not? It would sure guarantee plenty of drama, wouldn't it?

Kevin Drum 8:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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