Well, this is a first

I got noticed by Markos on the front page of Daily Kos!

Unfortunately, it was to attack and take out of context what I wrote in this post at MyDD yesterday.

Markos didn't like my opinion that it would be a political mistake for Barack Obama to choose a woman running mate other than Hillary Clinton.

Actually, "didn't like" is a bit of an understatement:

This is such a crock of shit. After all the talk of Clinton breaking glass barriers, are her supporters still so hung up on her loss that they're willing to create a new glass ceiling for women candidates, one that excludes anyone not named Hillary Clinton?

Fact is, the party is united behind Obama. In the latest Research 2000 national poll shows that Obama wins Democrats 82-9 percent, which is little different than McCain's 83-10. In 2004, Kerry won Democrats 89-11, and Obama will be up in that range when all's said and done. There are no more "party unity" concerns.

Throw in the fact that Obama has locked down the Latino vote, is winning women handily, has shown surprising strength in the Mountain West, the midwest, and even parts of the South. He has locked down the Democratic strongholds. It's clear that Obama doesn't need Clinton on the ticket.

I never said Obama needed to choose Hillary or that he is having problems uniting the party.

And of course I was not a Clinton supporter at any time and have not been advocating for her selection as VP (though Obama could do a lot worse).

Markos goes on to say,

I've got several people on my list of veep possibilities that would certainly reinforce Obama's core message of change, and several are women (mainly Sebelius and McCaskill). I don't have any inkling where Obama is going with this thing, but I do know that being forced to take women off his shortlist lest he offend some Hillary supporters is asinine. I doubt Clinton fought to shatter one glass ceiling to replace it with another.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius makes sense in that she is a two-term governor. I also like that she stepped in to block coal-fired power plants from being built.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill would be a terrible choice in my opinion. She has less relevant experience than Obama and is on the right wing of the Missouri Democratic Party. She has a much less progressive voting record than Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

My comment in this thread at Daily Kos:

for the record, here is what I said

and did not say.

I did not say Obama needs to pick a woman. In fact, at the end of that very post I said I'd offer it to Wesley Clark if I were Obama.

I did not say Obama has a problem with women voters.

I did not say Hillary is the only woman qualified to be on the ticket.

However, she is the only woman who was the preferred presidential candidate of 17 million plus voters.

I do think that in light of this year's extraordinary primary battle, it would be a political mistake for Obama to choose a woman running mate other than Hillary.

If Hillary were the nominee, I would also advise her against choosing a black man for VP other than Obama (though many would be qualified, such as John Conyers or Charlie Rangel).

To do so would be viewed as a slap in the face to Obama.

Also, Hillary wasn't my first, second or third, choice, so I appreciate not being referred to as one of her supporters.

This comment got buried under an avalanche of comments agreeing with Markos and misrepresenting what I believe, but I wanted to set the record straight here.

Use this as a thread for more idle speculation about whom Obama should and should not choose as a running mate.

Several commenters at MyDD made the case for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, who was an early Obama supporter. I don't think we have a very deep bench in Virginia. It's not worth giving up a governor to put Kaine on the ticket.

I still think that if Obama does not want to choose Hillary (and it looks like he doesn't), he should choose someone close to the Clintons--and not Florida Senator Bill Nelson or Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. Not only are they both too conservative for my liking, we would lose a Senate seat if either of them became vice president.

UPDATE: Yet another report indicates that Hillary Clinton is not on Obama's short list for VP. As I've said, I don't think he would choose her unless he felt he couldn't win without her, and he probably can win without her.

  • For a truly terrible choice

    He has the woman his search team has reportedly been floating:  Ann Veneman.  I would wonder about his judgment if he picked an anti-environment wingnut as Veep.

    I am sure a lot of Clinton supporters would not like a femal not-Hillary choice.  A lot of Obama supporters would not like Hillary as the choice.  Personally I think a lot of voters are going to be in danger of choking on the idea of the first African American, let alone adding a woman to the ticket.  And I'm a woman.

    I want him to win.  I think he increases the chances if he picks some nice competent older white man with national security cred and no skeletons in the closet.

    • the main point of my MyDD post

      was that I object to anyone on Obama's vetting team floating anyone as terrible as Ann Veneman. It disturbs me that we are never hearing about progressive champions on Obama's VP list either.

      But Markos may not have read far enough into my post to get that point. He grabbed the second paragraph and ran with it.

  • Disagree on a few points...

    I usually agree with you on most everything, but there are a few points you've made here that I completely disagree with.

    McCaskill is a fine choice for veep. Obama has been in the Senate for only two more years than McCaskill. How much more "relevant experience" has he racked up during that time? Not to mention that McCaskill's experience as a state legislator, county prosecutor and state auditor stack up very well against Obama's time as a state senator. (McCaskill was first elected to public office in 1982, Obama in 1996). I won't deny that McCaskill leans more toward the center than Obama--but she doesn't have the luxury of holding office in the most Democrat state in the US. That is simply how you survive in Missouri.

    Second, I disagree with the notion of Bayh, Nelson and McCaskill being "too conservative" for the veep job. If Obama wants to truly "walk the walk" when it comes to being bi-partisan and above party politics...then he needs to look at candidates who are out of the straight-line liberal mold. (Although, I agree Ann Veneman is taking it too far.) That would signal that the Democrat party is truly a big-tent party and that Obama is willing to work with everybody.

    Lastly, I think you're missing something key when it comes to Kaine. He's a lame duck anyway. Virginia has an idiotic one-term rule, and the election is coming up in 2009. It's time for him to pass the torch. Pick Kaine as VP, then the Repub. Lt. Gov gets a year placeholder shot at the job (and thus, can't run in 2009), and then it's a blank slate--same as it would be if Kaine had been Gov. the whole time. He shouldn't be counted out just on the basis that Virginia would get one year with a Republican place-holder governor.

    Were I Obama, I think I would go with Bill Richardson or Joe Biden, although I also have a soft spot for Bayh and McCaskill. I'm not even going to touch your fight with Markos, only to say that I think he's an egotistical jerk.

    • I forgot the one-term rule in Virginia

      I really feel Obama needs to choose either a governor or someone with more foreign policy/military experience than he has.

      McCaskill is not experienced enough to help Obama with the one group he really is weak with (older voters).

      Anyway, we don't have much of a bench in Missouri. We would likely lose her Senate seat in two years if she became VP.

      Biden or Richardson would be fine with me.  

    • my main beef with Bayh or Nelson

      is losing the Senate seat from IN or FL, two states where we would have trouble winning it back.

      Bill Nelson is the only Democrat to win statewide election in Florida for a long time.

  • I rushed over here and registered

    in order to tell you that Markos is full of it...as if you hadn't already noticed.   His hatred for Clinton has sent him totally 'round the bend and he is no longer able to formulate a nuanced analysis of the election.  

    I just wanted to come here and say that I appreciate your comments, your integrity and your frank contributions to the discussion.  

    And I completely agree that if Obama picks a woman other than Hillary, there will be hell to pay.  There are NO potential female candidates who even come close to Clinton in terms of experience, expertise and overall popularity.  

    My plans to vote for Obama would be seriously shaken if he picked McCaskill or Sebelius.  Either choice would show a real disrespect for the voters and a real naivete about what level of competence  we expect from our leaders.  

    I expect him to pick a VP who is seasoned and ready to lead.  Neither of these women is ready to lead "on day one."


    • thank you for your comment

      I think Armando/Big Tent Democrat said it well a few months ago when he observed that many in the netroots seem to put a higher priority on destroying the Clintons and their influence in the Democratic Party than they do on helping Obama win the election.

      As someone who was never very sympathetic toward either Clinton, I have been shocked by the campaign to demonize both Bill and Hillary this year.

      I will vote for Obama no matter which running mate he chooses, but I do think he will suffer a backlash if he selects a woman other than Hillary. I don't care for McCaskill at all. Sebelius has done some good things as governor and would certainly get my serious consideration if she runs for president someday. But this year, given the primary battle we had, I think she would not be a good choice.

      If Obama picks someone really horrible, like Sam Nunn, it would greatly reduce the number of progressives who would volunteer for him and donate to his campaign.

  • I'm torn

    As a former Clinton supporter, I think that she would be a great VP. I would love to see a woman vice president and she would be top of my list. I think it would bother me more for him to pick a white man supporter of hers than for him to pick another woman. If he is going to pick a Clintonite, I would prefer it to be Clinton herself. I think I would be OK with Kathleen Sebelius too, but Hillary would be my first choice. A woman on the ticket would make me more enthusiastic about campaigning for him as well.

    However, as much as I personally would love to have a woman VP, I don't know how much it would help him. I am already committed to voting for him in November and polls say I am not alone. He winning among women by bigger numbers than Kerry did. He is ahead in the Hispanic vote. The demographic he is having the most difficulty with is white males, so maybe he needs one of them.

    Frankly also, I am sick to death of Hillary Clinton and her supporters being blamed for everything from a tabloid report about Edwards to Becky Greenwald winning the 4th district primary. All during the primary Clinton was attacked by both Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olbermann. Next thing we know there will be someone accusing her for being soley responsible for both global warming and mad cow disease. If Obama did pick her for VP and he didn't win she would be blamed for that too.

    I think that Hillary Clinton would be the best person for the job, but I'm not sure that the best person for the job would necessarily help Obama get elected.

    • I agree with you

      This year, when I've read blog posts blaming the Clintons for everything, it reminds me of right-wing talk radio in the 1990s. But rest assured, if Obama finds a way to lose the general in the most favorable conditions any Demcratic presidential nominee has enjoyed for decades, Hillary will be blamed somehow.

      While I think Obama doesn't need to pick Hillary to win, you hit on an important point, which is that millions of Clinton supporters will become much more enthusiastic about his campaign if he does choose her. There are also downsides, as with any of the potential VP choices for Obama. But he could do a lot worse than Hillary.

  • identity politics at its worst


    As we have discussed before, I disagree with you assessment as well.  When reading your post here, it seems like you are playing real heavy-duty identity politics.  

    When I see Hillary Clinton, I see a smart and tenacious politician with incredible name recognition and lots of baggage.  When I see Barack Obama, I see a smart and charismatic politician who is reading the mood and aspirations of the country in an incredible way.  Why is it that when you think of Hillary, you see a woman first?  And with Obama, you see a black politician first and foremost?

    It is clear in your arguments that you don't believe only those who ran in the primaries should be considered for VP.  If that is our assumption, why should Obama be able to consider all other options who did not receive 17 million votes, but no other women except Hillary?  Why a krusty old white man who received no votes in the primary, but no Sebelius or McCaskill?  With your reasoning, I see an incredible slap in the face to all accomplished female politicians.  The same would apply to your hypothetical about Obama if Hillary was our nominee.  

    With thinking like this, no wonder our primary ended up being such an identity politics mess.  We clearly deserve it.  And if it costs us the election, we deserve it as well.

    Even with all this, I don't think Hillary would be a bad choice for Obama.  I just think the logic of "if no Hillary, no other woman" seems absolutely crazy.  It seems like an argument an old white southern male Democrat came up with.

    • politics isn't always fair

      For that reason, a senator from a large swing state is probably going to get more consideration for VP than a senator from a tiny solid blue state.

      The optics of the VP selection involve political considerations that may seem unfair.

      We had an extraordinary primary contest this year that drew in record numbers of participants and was decided by a very narrow margin, whether you look at delegates or popular votes.

      For that reason, I think the winner needs to consider how the VP selection will appear to supporters of the loser.

      If Obama had run away with the nomination in February, I would feel differently. However, in light of the way things unfolded, I believe it would be prudent for him not to make a VP choice that will anger Clinton supporters.

      By the way, that's one of several reasons I think Jim Webb would be a poor choice for Obama. Tim Kaine's less-than-fully-pro-choice position on abortion will also cause problems for Obama if he is chosen.

      I am sorry our primaries got so wound up in identity politics. But are you telling me that if Hillary had won and had chosen John Conyers or Harold Ford, that would not have been viewed as a slap in the face to Obama? I think there would have been an uproar.

  • sad but true

    "Tim Kaine's less-than-fully-pro-choice position on abortion will also cause problems for Obama if he is chosen"

    If we D's could just let go of this abortion orthodoxy litmus test and have some respect for the pro-life sensibilities, we could make huge electoral gains.  This is the one issue that keeps many with the R party, no matter where they stand on other issues.

    • maybe so

      but I don't want somone with Kaine's views potentially appointing federal judges. We've had a pro-life litmus test for the federal judiciary for the last eight years.

      • No more litmus tests

        I agree 100% RF.

        I hope with Obama we get a president (and veep) who don't believe in litmus tests. Whatever happened to appointing judges based on how good of a jurist they were as opposed to how they feel on this or that issue?

        Also, I think more Democrats hold "less-than-fully-pro-choice" positions than you may think.  

        • I will be very annoyed if Obama picks Kaine

          In addition to the pro-choice issue (which I agree with desmoinesdem is a problem) Kaine is also not very popular with the gay rights crowd either. Several articles I read said that he is "personally opposed to gay marriage." Outside of Virginia he doesn't have the name recognition to really help Obama, and I think he has the real potential to alienate some of his democratic base.  

        • So glad you agree

          Usually when I post something like this on a D blog, there is total silence or negative responses.

          "I think more Democrats hold "less-than-fully-pro-choice" positions than you may think.

          I couldn't agree more, even if I do consider myself pro-choice.  It's also a matter of where you draw the line between pro-choice and pro-life?  If you are ok with reasonable restrictions on abortion but don't want to ban it all together, are you pro-choice or pro-life?

          Especially here in Iowa, the recent rightward drift of the R party could provide us with an excellent opportunity to conquer the reasonable middle on the whole abortion issue and at least partially take that issue off the table.

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