Month: August 2008

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as VP running mate

I am absolutely stunned by Senator John McCain’s choice of the first term woman governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to be his Vice Presidential running mate.

It makes me wonder if Senator McCain is able to handle the burdens and responsibilities of being President for the next four to eight years, and it terrifies me at the thought that an inexperienced woman who has almost no track record and is governor of the second smallest state in population, MIGHT be President of the United States.

Of course, I can imagine many Republicans stating:  Senator Biden represents a state (Delaware) that is also very small in population.  The response to that is being a Senator from a small population state is totally different than being the Governor of a small population state.  A Senator deals with national and international issues, and Senator Biden has a long, distinguished record of service and contributions since his first election to the Senate in 1972.  A governor of a state that has only about two thirds of a million people, about the size of a typical congressional district, and has NEVER had any background and experience in foreign and defense policy, is a tremendous risk for our future, particularly since McCain, if elected, would be the oldest first term President, and were anything to happen to him, putting Governor Palin in the White House would be a FAR greater risk than putting Senator Barack Obama  in the White House.

No matter how bright and talented Governor Palin may be, can you imagine the upcoming Vice Presidential debate of Palin against Joe Biden?   Does anyone in their sane mind think she can compete with his brilliance and convince people that she is a SAFE choice to replace Senator McCain were he to be elected President?

The argument that Senator Obama is inexperienced and risky has been overcome by the choice of Governor Palin by Senator McCain.  Palin is far more inexperienced and risky, and unfortunately, reminds us of past choices of the Republicans for Vice President, two of whom unfortunately became Vice President and caused many grey hairs, and both who came quite close to the possibility of succession.  I am referring to Vice President Spiro Agnew under President Richard Nixon, who if he had not been caught in his own corruption in 1973 and forced out of  office, would have succeeded President Nixon when he ultimately resigned in August 1974.  How relieved we all were that Gerald Ford, with all of his faults and shortcomings but with decent instincts, became the successor to Richard Nixon!  The second case was Vice President Dan Quayle, who was an embarrassment as Vice President under President George H W Bush, a man who made constant gaffes and one often had to wonder about his basic intelligence, and yet who we had to be concerned about becoming President, when Bush had some health issues.   Another choice, who fortunately never became Vice President, but was also seen as ill qualified to become President, was Congressman William E Miller, chosen by Senator Barry Goldwater to be his running mate in the 1964 Presidential election.

The choice of Sarah Palin certainly cannot be seen as a reason why women, particularly Hillary Clinton supporters, would rush to support of McCain.  If McCain had followed my suggestion and chosen Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, that might have been conceivable.  Also, since Palin is strongly pro life on the abortion issue, there is no way that Democratic women are going to be willing to cross the aisle in large numbers. 

The Republicans love to promote family values, but the news that Sarah Palin just gave birth in April to a child who has Downs Syndrome, which requires a tremendous amount of effort and dedication by parents, and that she is willing to take on the heavy responsibilities of the Vice Presidency, makes you wonder how that demonstrates family values on her part.  She should be dedicating all her time outside of the light responsibilities of the Alaska governorship, to the role of being a dedicated, involved, loving mother.

My conclusion is that Senator McCain, demonstrating poor judgment in a very important decision, has damaged heavily his chances of winning the Presidency, and should he win, and should he unfortunately have a health crisis, or even fail to survive his term of office, we will be in a position of having fear and concern about his possible successor.  The Vice Presidential office demands people with the credentials and abilities of a Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, George HW Bush,  Al Gore, and Dick Cheney. 

Anyone putting bets on John McCain becoming the next President had better think twice, as the odds have just rapidly changed!

Thinking Ahead: the Obama Cabinet and Advisers

Thinking ahead to the possibility of President Obama and Vice President Biden makes one want to project who might be appropriate in his cabinet and as top advisers. I  have some interesting thoughts on this that I wish to share!  :)

Secretary of State–Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico
Secretary of the Treasury–Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City (Independent)
Secretary of Defense–Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (Republican appointment)
Attorney General–Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
Secretary of the Interior–Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana
Secretary of Agriculture–Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Secretary of Commerce–Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Secretary of Labor–Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent Socialist)
Secretary of Health and Human Services–Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development–Congressman John Lewis of Georgia
Secretary of Transportation–Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon
Secretary of Energy–Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Nevada
Secretary of Education–Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York
Secretary of Veterans Affairs–Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas
Secretary of Homeland Security–Congresswoman Jane Harman of California
White House Chief of Staff–former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota
National Security Adviser–former General Wesley Clark of Arkansas
United Nations Ambassador–former President Bill Clinton of Arkansas

You will note this list includes eight Senators or former Senators, two Governors, one Mayor, five House members, a former General and a former President ( to keep the peace between the Clintons and President Obama :) )   It includes three women, one Hispanic, one African American, six Jews and represents all sections of the country–four from the Northeast, four from the South, five from the Midwest, and five from the West.  I invite commentary on my proposed cabinet and advisers to President Obama and Vice President Biden!  :)

John McCain’ s Dilemma

Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for President, now faces a major dilemma regarding his choice for a Vice Presidential running mate.

McCain, it seems to me, MUST pick a nominee with the ability and knowledge of economic and domestic affairs that the Arizona senator lacks by his own admission.  He must also balance the issue of trying to keep the backing of the right wing conservatives while appealing to moderate Democrats and independents.  He also, by every indication, wants someone he feels personally comfortable with and yet also a person who could be President of the United States were McCain unable to finish his term, a possibility accentuated by McCain becoming 72 on August 29, the day he will announce his choice of his running mate.

The names bandied about include some that seem presposterous.  I see no advantage to Sarah Pallin, the governor of Alaska; Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas; Rob Portman, former congressman from Ohio and budget director under Bush; and Joe Lieberman, the independent Democratic senator from Connecticut who ran with Al Gore in 2000.

Others make more sense including Charlie Crist, governor of Florida; Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and Homeland Security Secretary under Bush in the first term; Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota ( a totally new face on the national level); and Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and the strongest competitor of John McCain in the primaries.  All of the above are close personally to McCain, except Romney.  But each has his disadvantages too:  Crist is a moderate who could help guarantee Florida for McCain, but his personal life could become a problem theoretically;  Ridge is pro choice on abortion; Pawlenty is mostly unknown and while making a nice appearance only won re-election in Minnesota by a small margin and probably cannot carry his home state for McCain; and Romney, acknowledged as understanding economics, really denounced McCain in the primaries and his attacks on McCain could be used by the Democrats in the fall campaign, to a much greater effect than Biden’s statements that Obama was not ready to be President.

Therefore, I propose someone else who I think could be a greater asset to McCain and would fill the needs of a running mate who could also be President if called upon.  That is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who is close to McCain and liked by McCain; has great experience in state government and in the Senate and understands economics better than McCain does; would be acceptable on the abortion issue and other issues that the right wing conservatives see as crucial to their supporting McCain; a person who moderate Democrats and independents might find acceptable if they are unhappy with Obama; and being a woman would certainly draw many women to consideration of supporting McCain.  It must also be pointed out that Hutchison is certainly better qualified than Geraldine Ferraro who ran with Walter Mondale in 1984, and also more experienced than Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who were both thought of as possible female running mates with Obama as alternatives to Hillary Clinton.  I am not personally endorsing Hutchison as I want the Democrats to win, but I do believe that IF she ran for VP with McCain, she would offer McCain the best hope possible to win the White House.

JOE BIDEN!

Needless to say, I am ecstatic over Barack Obama’s choice of Senator Joe Biden of Delaware to be his Vice Presidential running mate.  There is absolutely no better choice he could have made!

Joe Biden is a national treasure, a man who should have been the Democratic presidential nominee on qualifications and personality alone, but unfortunately he could  not compete in the big leagues financially or on national following with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and even John Edwards.  This is an example of the problems of our whole election system, that the BEST candidates never have the opportunity to be elected President, sometimes even when they are fortunate enough to be the nominee of their party.

Among such examples would be Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Al Smith, Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Birch Bayh,  Frank Church, Nelson Rockefeller, Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Al Gore.  Clay would have been better than William Henry Harrison in 1840 and could have spared us John Tyler’s succession.  Daniel Webster was the stateman of his generation along with Clay.  Al Smith would have certainly been better than Herbert Hoover. Stevenson was too good for us against a war hero named Ike.  Hubert Humphrey was certainly better qualified than John F Kennedy on his record in 1960 and could have saved us from Richard Nixon.  George McGovern was a man of vision who could have spared us the downfall of Nixon and the stewardship of Gerald Ford.  Birch Bayh and Frank Church were better,  more experienced choices than Jimmy Carter.  Nelson Rockefeller was certainly better than Nixon and Ford, with Ford at least recognizing that and making Rockefeller his Vice President.  Howard Baker was someone who should have been favored over Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, and Bob Dole also should have had an opportunity over both Reagan and Bush, but was too advanced in age by the time he ran against Bill Clinton.  Al Gore–well, is there any need to say he was better qualified than George W Bush and might have saved us from a lot of the grief  that has occurred in the past eight years?

A criticism that might be leveled is that Biden is better qualified than Obama to be President.   On paper, the same could be said about Lyndon Johnson over John F Kennedy.  Kennedy could not have won without LBJ. My answer is so what?  As long as a candidate recognizes his limitations, I give him credit by recruiting the best running mate he can find.  No President can do it all alone and having an excellent, sometimes better qualified Vice President is a mark of both leadership and lack of egotism getting in the way.  I think the same can be said of Gerald Ford showing no ego problem in picking Nelson Rockefeller, Jimmy Carter selecting Walter Mondale, Ronald Reagan choosing George HW Bush, Bill Clinton turning to Al Gore, and even George W Bush calling upon Dick Cheney.  I would argue all of these cases are examples of the Vice President being BETTER QUALIFIED than the President.  It certainly was better for the country than Nixon picking Spiro Agnew and the first Bush selecting Dan Quayle. So I do not fault Obama for recognizing his limitations and feel assured that his selection of Biden is a sign that he will, when he is elected President, which I am now sure he will be on November 4, choose the best and the brightest among both Democrats and Republicans, as well as independents, to staff his cabinet and close advisers. 

Remember one thing.  The cabinet and close advisers of the President of the United States DO MATTER, and I see Obama as doing much like Abraham Lincoln, who it could be argued was NOT the best choice on paper of the competitors for the 1860 presidential nomination.  That is, Lincoln made sure to gather around him the best and the brightest of his rivals and party leaders, and that had a lot to do with his successes and greatness.  Franklin D Roosevelt was also thought to be not as outstanding as he turned out to be, and he also recruited outstanding cabinet members and advisers.  The greatness and accomplishments of a President are not be be judged by the person himself, as the wisdom and judgment of the man in the people he gathers around him.

So I salute Barack Obama and see bright days ahead as he faces the challenge of the future with Joe Biden at  his side.  HOORAY!  :)

JOHN EDWARDS

I have long been an admirer of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.  I was pleased that he ran for the presidential nomination in 2004 and would have preferred him to John Kerry.  I was also originally leaning to support of him for the 2008 nomination until I sensed that Barack Obama was the right candidate for our time and switched to support of him in early January 2008 after Obama won the Iowa caucuses.  I still had admiration for Edwards and especially for his wife Elizabeth who I have long considered to be a true sweetheart, one of the most admirable political wives in America today.

Therefore, I was truly stunned and dismayed when I learned of Edwards cheating on his wife, then confessing to her, and the two of them agreeing to keep it to themselves and Elizabeth to work very hard for her husband’s nomination in 2008 while in the midst of fighting cancer.  This whole situation makes Elizabeth look like the saint but it also makes John Edwards look like a low life who, as he said himself last weekend, allowed his egocentrism and narcissism to lead him to violate his marriage vows and victimize a woman of such high principle and decency.

I certainly realize that all of us in the human family are imperfect and that we all have urges and fantasies common to human nature.  But thoughts are one thing and actions another.  Therefore, I feel that John Edwards has lost all credibility and cannot possibly be considered for any government position under a President Obama.  Maybe as time passes, and if he chooses to offer himself again for some public office and allow the voters to decide if he deserves another chance, he might redeem himself.  For now, however, he needs to work on his family issues and do whatever he can outside of public office to promote the causes he believes in , especially fighting poverty and promoting universal health care and educational opportunities for those less fortunate.  IF he works at his causes sincerely and without egocentrism or narcissism rearing their ugly heads, he might yet redeem himself and restore the reputation that he had gained over the past ten years.  Certainly, I can say this is a sad moment in his life and in our national life, but the potential for redemption is still there, and I wish him and his wife and family all the best as they recover from this terrible turn of events.

The Vice Presidency

Two weeks before the Democratic convention and still no Vice Presidential nominee yet!  Barack Obama is really making the whole matter a dramatic one and leaving us guessing as to what he will do.  It seems clear to me that with the new foreign crisis of war between the Russian Federation and Georgia (once part of the Soviet Union), that Obama needs to focus on a person who is expert on foreign policy issues as that is the area in which he is most vulnerable.  Therefore, the concept of picking a governor such as Tim Kaine of Virginia or Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas seems extremely unwise.  He needs a person of experience and expertise in international affairs, and therefore it seems to me his choice narrows down to one of three people, all members of the US Senate. 

The most logical choice would be Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a brilliant commentator on foreign affairs with more years of experience on these issues than anyone in the Senate.  He is a great speaker, has charisma, is very charming and would complement Obama in great fashion.  Being Catholic and having grown up in Pennsylvania, Biden also could help Obama carry a crucial state and draw Catholic support to Obama’s candidacy.  The nation would be well served with Biden’s knowledge and experience behind Obama and involved in every day decision making.

A second choice would be Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, who is very much involved in issues of intelligence, foreign policy and military affairs, and has served in the Senate for ten years after eight years as Governor of a traditional Republican state.  He is a very agreeable, mild mannered, moderate who could help Obama win the Midwest, including his state of Indiana, and having been a Hillary Clinton supporter will make him acceptable to the Clinton camp as Vice President.  The odds probably favor Bayh over Biden, as Bayh is 52 and Biden is 66, so there would be a smaller age gap between Obama and Bayh.  Also, Bayh has been a possible VP choice for both Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry  in 2004.  In fact, in 2000, I wrote Al Gore and Evan Bayh suggesting that Bayh be his running mate, and had he been so, I think Gore would have won Indiana and possibly Ohio or Missouri and would have become our President even without Florida’s electoral votes.

A final choice which is much more daring and therefore much less likely is Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska,   Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, acknowledged as an expert on foreign affairs since his election to the Senate in 1996, and a Vietnam veteran, who has long opposed the war in Iraq and has broken with the majority of his party on this issue.  About to leave the Senate, Hagel has become a good friend of Obama’s and would be a good compliment to Obama, although his domestic views might clash as he is considered a conservative.  It would be quite a gamble to go with Hagel, and might alienate many Democrats in the process, but it would show Obama’s willingness to step outside the political norm and cross the aisle and try to promote bipartisanship in foreign policy making.

My gut feeling is that Bayh will be the choice in the next two weeks, but I would personally prefer Biden, and would find Hagel an exciting choice as it would show Obama as really promoting change and a new vision about world affairs.