Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Question for Liberals

Ready?  Here's the story.  Tomorrow, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton are sitting around in a post-wedding glow, and the conversation turns, as you know it would, to the Sunday Times valentine to Mo Vaughn (Hillary, as you may suspect, is secretly a Red Sox, Angels, and Mets fan).  Well, one thing leads to another, and next thing you know they're in the Oval Office telling the president that after his current term, they're retiring from politics for good to form a boutique company that supplies low-cost, clean energy to poor people, so that they can be featured in NYT puff pieces just like the formerly despised-in-New York slugger.  The president then turns to you and asks: with both of them out of the way, who would you like to be the VP nominee in 2012, and from there the obvious frontrunner in 2016?  He gives you a memo summarizing the political science research that suggests VPs don't really affect presidential vote very much (so don't take into account whether your selection would help or hurt in 2012), but he is looking for a viable candidate for 2016.  So, who are you going to advise him to select?


  1. My shortlist would be:

    Brian Schweitzer
    Ron Wyden
    Jeff Merkley
    Tom Udall
    Kathleen Sebelius
    Anthony Weiner

  2. I'd ask to wait until after 2010, because there may be a Democratic Governor/Senator in the mix that we haven't met yet.

    Be that as it may:

    1) Martin O'Malley (pending reelection)
    2) Brian Schweitzer
    3) Hickenlooper (if he wins Gov. CO)
    4) Corey Booker


    5) Jack Reed
    6) Kathleen Sebelius
    7) Claire McCaskill
    8) Congressman Xavier Becerra
    9) Janet Napolitano
    10) Bill White, Governor of Texas?

    I'd point out that 2016 is so many political lifetimes away that I'd like to check back in in March 2011


  3. I know it's unlikely, but I'd like to see him select Al Franken.

  4. 1) Alan Grayson
    2) Al Franken
    3) Tom Udall

  5. Since Al Franken ain't gonna happen, I'll go with Jeff Merkley.

  6. I think who I'd like is slightly different from who I think would be good politically. So let's do both!

    I'd like- nay, LOVE- to see Sherrod Brown. Smart, working-class liberal, understands progress and isn't prone to the kind of liberal temper tantrums that he would be justified in having on so many issues. I think he'd be a good advisor to the President on labor and jobs and be in a strong position in 2016.

    Who I think would be wise...isn't that different! Governor Ted Strickland, pending re-election. The Ohio thing and the minister thing would be pretty strong in 2016 (...and probably WILL be...). I don't know that he'd bring as much to the office, but I doubt he'd be bad.

    I'd also think Martin O'Malley and Amy Klobuchar would be strong Democratic nominees, and wouldn't mind giving them the leg up. Brian Scweitzer would also be pretty awesome, though camping him in an unarguably "insider" job would kind of ruin his narrative. McCaskill would probably be a good VP, as she clearly works hand-in-glove with Obama, and she'd probably be a lot better on the issues if removed from direct electoral politics. But that would certainly make 2016 sticky.

  7. Alan Grayson? I get that he makes certain liberal hearts go a flutter, but he hasn't done anything save make a few aggressive charts and amusing slogans. He doesn't even strike me as terribly bright.
    Udall seems fine. Innocuous enough. Sherrod Brown maybe.
    Jack Reed would be interesting if only Rhode Island weren't so corrupt and useless electorally.

    If Hilary doesn't run the bench ain't looking too deep. It's funny, I know everyone has qualms with the Obama Presidency, be them mild or monstrous, but all these people strike me as very much a lesser man than he.

  8. I actually think the bench is okay, at least by 2016. I think Warner, Strickland and O'Malley will run (assuming survival in all cases) and put together very strong campaigns. Klobuchar and McCaskill might also, and I see no reason not to take them seriously. Schweitzer would get a lot of support, and Brown could at least make himself a strong #2 on the ticket.

    Granted, almost all of these possibilities need seasoning, but they could all carry the torch and beat a Republican that's less talented than Reagan. And once in office, I think a lot of them would be able to advance the ball much further than Obama did.

  9. Just to throw another name out there, Bill Richardson. He'll turn 69 years old shortly after the 2016 election, so he's not the youngest nor the freshest face. But he will be (indeed was in 2008) as "qualified" to be president as basically anyone ever. He was fully cleared of any ethical problems so that will be a non-issue (rumors of dalliances and/or inappropriate behavior with women might be), and I would not be surprised if he takes some high profile post in the Obama administration (or elsewhere) once his stint as New Mexico governor is up. Obama wanted him for commerce, and he could be a fine second term replacement for any number of positions (including Secretary of State or VP for that matter, if we stick to the scenario).

    Richardson was pretty impressive in the 2008 campaign in terms of his style and command of the issues, I thought, even though he did not have a chance in hell to actually win. He's quite charismatic, has loads of experience, and is a Spanish-speaking Latino with a gringo last name (let's be real, the latter helps him). To be frank I'm not sure the Democrats would want to follow an African American candidate/president with a Hispanic candidate, but I would like to see Richardson throw his hat in the ring. (Note: I'm answering here more just in terms of his viability as a candidate and his ability to hold the office of the president rather than his take on issues--who knows what those will be 6 years from now. Also I'm not really a liberal, rather on the left).

    Finally, I think Jonathan's question pushes to the side an equally interesting one, and perhaps one that is easier to answer. Assume, as is certainly possible, that Biden and Hillary BOTH run--then what? That's my Sunday question!

  10. What about....John Huntsman? The GOP is too toxic for him now, and could be that way for the foreseeable future. He was by all accounts a wildly successful governor of Utah, where he cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically because of the 4-day working week. Not too socially conservative, and it suits Obama's bi-partisan image. 2012-16 is also likely to be a period of massive deficit reduction, could be helpful to have Republican expertise on that front...

  11. Surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet - Bob Menendez.

  12. Menendez is all right, but I think it's hard to come out of Jersey politics and move to an even higher level--too many dead bodies (sometimes literally, I'm sure) and dirty politics in order to get to the top in NJ. Illinois is actually pretty similar in that regard, and it's sort of freakish that Barack Obama got as far as he did--obviously his unique biography is the main reason.

  13. Grayson is young, aggressive, forthright, and frighteningly smart. Know what he did before he was in Congress? Pursued fraud prosecutions against military contractors bilking the US government.

    He's unafraid to be an honest-to-jeebus liberal-progressive in a competitive district. He'd rather to good in Congress than do well in Congressional elections. That's the highest praise you can give an officeholder.

    As for Franken, I've been a total fanboy since Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them. The man's got a head for policy, knows how to package and present a message in a convincing manner (just look at that video of him talking to the teahadists on health care)

    And Udall is willing to fight the filibuster--as VP and President of the Senate, I'm sure he would.

  14. Yowser! I was going to be the first person on this thread to tab Brian Schweitzer, but alas, my dreams and desires were cruelly dashed.

    No-brainer as far as I'm concerned, on both politics and policy.

  15. If I were only considering who would be a good VP for Obama's (potential second term) I would say John Kerry. Clearly a strong substantive figure, has already been vetted, etc.

    In terms of 2016, though, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner are the two names that come to my mind (in that order). Obviously, as others have pointed out, 2016 is a long way away, so these kinds of predictions are of almost no value. And who the actual nominee will be will probably depend significantly on whether Obama is re-elected.

    One last point: I saw someone mentioned Bill Richardson above. Just to throw one highly attentive voter's perspective into the mix, when I watched the Democratic debates during 2008, Richardson was far and away my least favorite candidate. Not to put too blunt a point on it, he just didn't seem to be very smart. His answers often reflected fairly minimal policy knowledge. I have no idea how he would be as a candidate, but I'm concerned he would just be a terrible President.

  16. That's interesting GW, because that was not my impression of Richardson during the 2008 debates. He was definitely trying to set himself apart from the "big 3" candidates (particularly when it came down to four candidates toward the end) and perhaps he came off as less serious at times as a result, but I don't recall having the feeling that he was uninformed (and like you I'm a close observer of the political scene). It's pretty hard to have the jobs he's had and not end up knowing quite a lot about a lot of things, and I don't think one of the digs on Richardson is that he's dumb.

    Anyhow, I just think he's semi-interesting for a Democrat with presidential aspirations: I have no idea whether I would actually want him to win were he to decide to run again, but nominating a highly-qualified Hispanic with some folksy charm is not a terrible idea for Dems on the face.

  17. Realistically, we're mostly talking either a Senator or a Governor (really helps to have someone who can win a statewide election).

    Of the current governors, Jennifer Granholm makes the most sense electorally -- and I'm talking about 2016 here -- because she comes from a large state, and is relatively young.

    Of the senators -- a better crop, so a tougher call.

  18. Schweitzer and Brown are good calls. Grayson and Franken have no chance in our current political universe, but I would like to see them give it a shot at least, just to keep the other guys honest. Here are a couple of dark horses: Christine Gregoire of Washington; she's potentially too far left to win a national election, but she's a good campaigner and has a compelling bio. She could run an insurgent Hillary-lite campaign and potentially make some headway. Brad Henry of Oklahoma, wildly popular in a ruby red state, endorsed President Obama early, and has taken some tough stands for things like abortion rights and health care reform. He's supposedly ready to get out of politics, but could be an interesting "moderate democrat" candidate.

  19. I also thought Granholm, but she was born in Canada. No dice.

  20. Dang, I guess it would be a senator then...

  21. Out of the names listed frequently so far Amy Klobuchar stands out to me. She has a bright future. I think Sheldon Whitehouse, Jack Reed (though he doesn't seem the kind of guy who'd want it), and Kathleen Sebelius merit serious consideration as well. And while it's too early to be sure what to make of him, and while it seems unlikely we'd get another native of Delaware, I'm keeping my eye on Jack Markell. He seems more talented than a lot of the Democratic governors.

  22. What ever happened to that nice John Edwards fellow?

  23. I like Patty Murray a whole lot, and if Michael Bennet (young, really smart according to lots of people) wins reelection in Colorado he'll be someone to watch in the future as well.

  24. Frankly most of those named above don't do it for this Dem. Too old, too bland, or too centrist-white-male.

    I like Sheldon Whitehouse's smarts and articulateness. Not too old. More liberal than centrist. Not highly charismatic, but not many are. But with Hillary out of the admin, this heavily-male-oriented Obama WH badly needs a highly-placed female figure who can wield influence and present a different pov.

    Kristen Gillibrand. Assuming she easily wins election to a full senate term this year, and continues to vote mostly towards the lib side, she'll have positioned herself nicely for a VP position. Young, attractive, well-spoken and a likable fairly dynamic personality.

    Re Gov Granholm, cited by someone above: Canadian-born, so ineligible, as I understand the Const'n, to hold the VP slot.

    Sebelius? Too old (by 2016) and much too bland and soft-spoken. Probably will finish out in current and maybe another admin position in a 2d O term.

    Klobuchar? Slightly more plausible as 2012 VP material, but major drawback, from what I've seen, is a slight lack of gravitas personality. Smart but doesn't always project that she's a serious pol. YMMV of course.

  25. Dang, I wanted to be the first to suggest Kirsten Gillibrand. Watching her in NY--from winning her seat in Congress, to winning the appointment to the Senate, to chasing off every serious opponents, both Democrats and Republicans--she is a force to be feared. It's no secret that she is aiming to climb the political ladder, and I've heard of many people around NY and the Capitol refer to her as the first female President.

    If Biden's out, Gillibrand should be Obama's new VP, and then the frontrunner in 2016.

  26. It's a longshot, but if Rep. Betsy Markey wins re-election this year in Marilyn Musgrave's old district, she'd be a smart choice. She's one of the best public speakers in Colorado politics right now. She electrifies liberals while winning in a conservative district. Lots of business experience in her bio. Good combo.

  27. Inspiration -- Rahm Emanuel!

  28. Ooooh, Gillibrand is a good call, shoulda thought of that.

    Someone above mentioned Bill White, obviously under the proviso that he wins this year. And that's a start, of course, but if he wins this year AND wins re-election in 2014, well, no one needs to explain the value of a Dem that could win Texas...


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