Sunday, August 24, 2008

What now?

My first reaction upon learning late Friday night that Obama's pick was Joe Biden was that McCain needed someone who could handle the rhetorical onslaught that the Dem VP candidate was bound to subject to his rival at their debate on October 2nd. Biden's decades in the Senate have made him one of the better communicators in DC. When he speaks it doesn't seem like he is reading.... he speaks to the voters in ways they understand. Unfortunately for him, his rhetorical talents have ultimately led to unfortunate gaffes. It also has given him a reputation as someone who is as arrogant as he is long winded.

So who can stand up to him? Wouldn't we want someone that even the mainstream media would expect to put up a good fight? Mitt Romney comes to mind. Experienced on the campaign trail, did a solid job in the debates and would be expected by many to be Biden's equal when they sit across from eachother at the debate table.

That's the exact reason why it can't be Mitt.

In politics, much of the game is about expectations. Mitt vs. Joe would be billed as a fight between two evenly matched boxers and even a 'win' by Mitt wouldn't be a story.

Another argument for Romney is that he could be the attack dog on the stump that can match Biden's expected scathing political offensive. But once again, Mitt would be EXPECTED to do this. It wouldn't be a story.

Finally, picking Mitt would not be a surprise. He has been considered a favorite for the pick for some time. He's a known commodity to voters so there wouldn't be any substantive coverage introducing him to the public. Once again, there wouldn't be a story.

Now it can be considered a positive for Romney that there wouldn't be a story because, as I've discussed before, the last thing McCain needs is a news coverage about how bad a pick he has made.

But while McCain had a good run of coverage in the weeks leading up to the Democratic convention, he is still an underdog and playing it safe is not how he will win.

There are two variables that the GOP Presidential candidate must consider before he makes his pick: 'Who's the Boss'& 'Expectations'?

Let me explain.

Who's the Boss?
One thing came to mind when I first saw Obama and Biden on stage together as running mates....which of them should be a candidate for President? Obama's inexperience is highlighted by Biden's tenure as a Senator in Washington DC. Of course, our Presidential candidate could pick Wilford Brimley and McCain would still be considered the old guy on the ticket, so age isn't necessarily a consideration. While people like us...the ones that read political blogs daily and pay attention to every little news story...what we want in a Vice-President is someone who can step in on day one. But is that how the swing voter thinks? Do they need a Dick Cheney? It's my contention that the people who start paying attention 30 days out are perfectly ok with the President playing the role of the mentor with the Vice-President being next in line eight years from now. They've seen this role played over and over again...and they never responded well to the Vice President who defied that role, Dick Cheney. That means a younger, less experienced, but still competent candidate could satisfy the swing electorate.

At the same time it would also serve as a subtle reminder to the voter about who is in charge in each the Republican and Democratic ticket. It wouldn't be a question with the Republican ticket, but some may question who's the boss of the Democratic ticket. In response, one might say that this didn't have much of an effect in 2000 when Cheney was clearly more experienced than Bush. However, Bush didn't have the gravitas problem that Obama clearly has now. Bush had served as Governor for years and his political pedigree was without question. That's not the case with Sen. Obama.

Expectations. When the mainstream media previews the first Vice-Presidential debate between a younger and energetic GOP candidate against Sen. Biden there will be no question who will be expected to win. Biden's rhetorical abilities will make him the overwhelming favorite heading into the event. So the worst that can happen for the GOP is that the VP candidate doesn't 'win', as expected, and the VP debate is therefore a wash. But what if the GOP VP candidate surprises the world and somehow pulls off what could be considered a victory? That would be a story that owns the media cycle for days.

So the question is who fits this profile? Who can make the VP selection a real story, rather than illicit a collective yawn from the press?

Pawlenty has been considered a longtime frontrunner for the job and while he would satisfy the first two angles, he wouldn't maximize the 'expectations' variable. His standing as a current favorite wouldn't provide the lack of a story the Romney selection would make, but it wouldn't make everyone take notice either.

My preference? Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal. Each are supremely competent and maximize the 'Expectations' and 'Who's the Boss' variables. Finally, with McCain making his selection the day after the conclusion of the Democratic Convention, there are no two people in the country that would make the entire media stand up and take notice and pull coverage away from Obama's acceptance speech the night before.

What is their negative? Experience, of course. But do they really have any less than Obama? Each already has significant accomplishments in office, much moreso than Obama. If nothing else, they would highlight the experience debate and make it an issue once again. This highlights McCain's primary strength over Obama to the all-important swing voter. Imagine the talking points when the Obama campaign challenges the Jindal/Palin pick?

'We may have the same amount of experience, Mr. Obama...but what have you done lately?'


  1. Good job Eduardo.

    I think that Palin's stregths need to be contrasted more with Biden's weaknesses and McCain's weaknesses as well.
    She both complements and supplements McCain better than Pawlentry. She is strong in areas where McCain is weak: Energy, Mining, blue collar, dealing with environmental isues.

    She is also strong in three areas that are important to McCain:energy independence, fighting corruption and reducing governmental budget deficits.

    So far her negatives -from a GOP perspective - don't seem to be substantial. Her government experience is considerable. She is middle- class or upper middle class but not rich. Her husband works as an oil industry gas operator and as a fisherman.

    Interestingly she oversaw the passage of a major tax increase on the industry. This occurred despite the fact that her husband is employed in the industry and stood to lose money on the deal. So I guess she can't be called a stoolie of the Big Oil people.

    She has extensive state and city governmental experience to draw from.

    She is very personable.

    And she is experienced enough on the hustings to hold her own with Biden.

    The key problem that Obama faces with Biden on this ticket is that Biden is the one with experience and knowledge of Foreign and Military Affaires. But Obama is the President. So when the phone rings at 3:00 Am does Obama answer it?

    Does he put the caller on hold while he queries Biden about what to do? ( Asking Daddy? or Asking the Master or Guru?)

    Does he transfer the call to Biden? ( Michelle: Let Joe handle it let's sleep).

    Or does he hang up ( ah la Han Solo [Stars Wars] in the Death Star prison scene: "How are you. We're fine. Reactor leak --very big leak....).

    You can imagine the opportunities this affords McCain to satirize Obama's lack of experience.

    "Who you gone Call? (Ghost buster theme music please and Obama/ Biden -photoshopped image of Joe and Barry in Ghostbuster uniforms)

    Palin also enables McCain to send a non-verbal message that Hillary's girls have another option besides Obama. There is a woman on the ticket who is a serious player. Someone who is not just a piece of eye candy.

    Palin's looks do not intimidate other women. She has a soccer mom style and yet most men would find her charming and attractive. Women can look at her and not feel threatened or ridiculed.

    Her experience indicates that she can handle the rough and tumble of political life. So I think that she can standup to Joe Biden in the debates.

    Joe has never -IMHO- come a across as one who maintains his cool when confronted with a rational, logical opposing argument. He tends to employ cheap debating tricks and hyperbably to ridicule his opponent.

    Cheap shots are his specialty. As such I would expect him to come across to the viewer as an arrogant and bullying prick. Such tactics would most likely backfire on a "cool" medium like TV.

    Palin -if she can keep her composure - could win by just remaining calm and logical.

    If Joe pulls the usual Biden debate stunts, then I think MCCain could pick up some votes from independent women. Women who don't like being patronized or bullied.

    So I approve of your choice and I ask only that you get cracking with the McCain camp to push them to go for Sarah.

    Pawlentry is just another suit; a typical GOP leader.

    I think you are correct.We need to change public perceptions. Do the unexpected.

    Just what military men have done for 2000 years.


  2. Despite the Dems and the allied main stream media’s desperation to see Romney as McCain’s Veep, Mitt is clearly out, with (1) Obama doubling down on the class warfare theme (McCain’s 7 houses) and (2) McCain doubling down with ads showing the hypocrisy of Biden attacking Obama in the primaries — Romney did way more than that contra McCain.

    This leaves only Govs Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty. Pro-abortion Ridge and Dem-Lieberman were never real considerations, despite relentless media goading. Pawlenty’s lackluster TV performances, coupled with Palin pizzazz, the primacy of oil drilling and the ticked off women/Hillary voters, does now portend a McCain/Palin checkmate on the Dems. This is so albeit the Dems and liberal media dare not mention Palin’s name, that is, everyone but…..

    And if there’s any question as to Palin being uniquely positioned and able to more than nullify Biden in debate, see the excellent discussion at

    Team McCain, well done!!!


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