Some time in the next week, Barack Obama is going to announce his running mate. My main observation is that very rarely in my lifetime has the actual veep pick been anyone who was on the "short list." Aside from John Edwards in 2004 and Joe Lieberman in 2000, the picks have hardly ever been who people were buzzing about. Dan Quayle had been mentioned, but wasn't seen as a leading candidate in 1988. Al Gore sort of came out of nowhere in 1992. Jack Kemp was seen as out to pasture in 1996. Dick Cheney was the one supposedly finding someone to pick in 2000, when he decided to pick himself.
With that, let's just assume that Bayh, Kaine, Sebelius, Biden, and the rest are right out, simply because the chattering classes think they're likely picks. Your best VP pick comes out of nowhere, makes people go, "whoa!" and scramble about for information, and ultimately reinforces the logic of your campaign. Here's my list of dark horses for the nomination:
- Bob Graham -- Whom I thought it would be for a while, although I'm cooler on him these days. Shores up Florida votes, impeccable national security credentials, and has that "old hand, gravitas" thing to reassure people about Obama.
- John Kitzhaber -- Former governor of Oregon. Governors just make better Presidential candidates in general. Kitzhaber is charismatic, popular with rural westerners, but is largely unknown to the country at large, which in my book is a big plus when it comes to a VP pick. He's spent his time since being governor working on grassroots organizing to reform health care.
- Bill Bradley -- Campaigned for the nomination in 2000 on a "new kind of politics." Sound familiar? When I mentioned this to my parents, one of them pointed out that one of the prime benefits would be watching him and Obama go one-on-one in basketball. Sure, Obama's 20 years younger, but that's the only thing that would keep it close. Back in the day, Bradley knew a thing or two about roundball.
- Tom Daschle -- The dark horse pick of a couple of notable liberal bloggers. Big Obama supporter, and he'd know how to work the Senate. I'm still simmering at the complete capitulation of him and Gephardt between 2000 and 2002, but in the VP role he wouldn't need spine. (Might be better not to have it.)
- Brian Schweitzer -- Enormously popular Democratic governor of Montana. People say, "but he's got no name recognition!" but I happen to think that's a bit of a good thing. Only thing is, he's cruising to re-election this year, but he might help the top of the ticket enough to make that expendable.
Not that anyone asked, but hey, it's a blog entry. It's what they're for.