Now that the national guessing game has turned to Obama's vice-presidential possibilities and commentators everywhere are discussing their lists and preferences, it's time for some serious vetting.
Despite the competence and accomplishments of those on the lists, many are obvious nonstarters in the vice-presidential lottery.
Hillary, for example. A few months ago the media was propelling her as almost a sure thing. They gleefully proclaimed, over and over as they are wont to do, that her addition to the ticket would combine her strengths with Obama's. A Dream Team! What's not to love? Little has been heard of this inspiration since Jimmy Carter matter-of-factly noted the obvious: it would also combine their negatives.
General Wesley Clark makes a lot of lists. However, the fact that he's a four-star general and a Rhodes Scholar can't compensate for the awkward feel he brings to the Democrats. Although he's now a convert to the progressive cause and has been a good friend and supporter of Hillary, he's made statements in the past that sounded right-wingish and his opinions on a number of issues when he ran for president in 2004 were muddy. Despite his keynote address at YearlyKos, we might be pardoned for wondering who he really is.
Kathleen Sebelius, twice elected Democratic governor of red-state Kansas, also seems to make everybody's list. She has done tough-minded work for conservation and civil rights in her state against pressure from a Republican legislature. But given a national audience after Bush's 2008 State of the Union address, she failed to cash in on the golden opportunity. The image left in the mind of the viewing public was not of strength, resolve or the vice presidency. Stuff happens.
Janet Napolitano (AZ) has been another noteworthy Democratic governor in a red state. Despite her resume, it doesn't seem reasonable to expect that the addition of a female, any female, to the ticket with a black man is going to boost Democratic chances. Remember the misogyny on display during the primary season? Ms Napolitano is only 50. We should see more of her in the future but now is not her time.
Senator Joe Biden and former governor Bill Richardson suffer from the same electorally fatal condition: Failure to excite. Biden is one of the more hawkish Democrats, which will not play any better in the national election than it did in the primary season.