Time for Johnny to pick his Ed McMahon

The Democratic National Convention is coming up in July and JohnKerry has yet to pick a running mate. At least he’s finally decidedto actually accept the party’s nomination at the convention; thatwas under debate for awhile while he considered holding off onaccepting it so he could have more campaign money available.

But now that that’s out of the way, he has some mental realestate to dedicate to the problem of choosing his vice presidentialchoice for November. He has a number of options, some more feasibleand more palatable than others. His choice could help decidewhether he defeats Bush in November or not – unless Osama bin Ladenis captured between now and election day, in which case reelectionfor Bush will be as easy as his falling off a bicycle.

But who will Kerry ultimately go with? And who would actuallyprovide the most benefits to his campaign? I decided to do atotally unscientific handicapping of the field based on severallikely prospects and several that are perhaps a littleless-than-likely.

John McCain: He said he isn’t interested in running but Reutersonline and several other news sources mentioned the Gallup poll inwhich a theoretical Kerry/McCain ticket came in with a double-digitlead over Bush/Cheney. Those kinds of numbers might conceivablytempt him to change his mind.

Kerry aides have publicly mentioned how much they’d love to havehim. A republican running mate for Kerry would definitely be quitethe kick in the nuts to Bush. How could he keep calling Kerry aliberal then? In his simplified way of thinking, Democratic equalsLiberal, much the way democratic equaled Communist to similarlysimple-minded people fifty years ago, so this kind of developmentcould cause enough cognitive dissonance in his brain to send him ina permanent vegetative state – not necessarily a bad thing.

John Edwards: He was widely mentioned as a possibility after his”positive” but unsuccessful Democratic primary campaign. Hailingfrom North Carolina, he could bring in the southern vote. The southis mostly red states that tend to vote Republican and tip thebalance in that direction – unless the dems butter them up bypicking somebody from their home turf. The last successfuldemocratic ticket was Clinton/Gore in 1992 and they were both fromthe south. Case closed.

Howard Dean: When Dean was right here in Portland with Kerrylast month, he said he was just out to support the (presumptive)nominee and it’s unreasonable to expect that he would get the VPspot. But Kerry should take note of the enthusiastic reception Deangot when he was here. Kerry’s base of support is mostly made up ofpeople who just want the candidate most likely to beat Bush – evena good chunk of Naderites are behind him this year. But they aren’texcited about him; they are simply resigned to his being the lesserof two evils. People get excited about Dean. And we know fromoverplayed TV clips that Dean has a tendency to get a littleexcited as well. He’s probably a bit much for general consumptionby himself, as the primaries proved, but he might be perfect forcounterbalancing Kerry’s Lieberman-like ability to put people tosleep with his rhetoric.

Ralph Nader: Well, at least Kerry wouldn’t have to worry aboutRalph siphoning off votes for him and throwing the election to Bushyet again if they were on the same ticket. And when Dick Cheneyfound out the Dems were running Nader, he would probably have amassive coronary. George W. would be scrambling at the last minuteto find a replacement VP candidate, possibly giving Kerry a slightadvantage. Only problem is Nader might do some slight damage toKerry’s centrist image.

Hillary Clinton: Yes, I know. This one’s not going to happen.But if Bush makes any more monumental screw-ups overseas and hispoll numbers plunge any further, it would really be rubbing it infor Kerry to pick someone like her and still win. She would atleast get the New York and Arkansas votes, not to mention thesupport of Bill Clinton, who would love to be back in the WhiteHouse in a First Man capacity and once again within strikingdistance of all those juicy interns.

But what am I doing sitting inside writing about politics whenit’s summer outside and the school year is almost over? It makesvery little sense, much like most of my columns. I should havegraduated by now, but no, other priorities intervened. Socongratulations to everyone who is making it out alive thisyear.