Thursday, July 31, 2008

Patti Solis Doyle needs a boss

Perhaps it is evidence that Democrats are getting serious, but it seems like ages since anyone has publicly suggested that presidential hopeful Barack Obama has no choice but to choose Hillary R. Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.

Either the masses who wanted a Clinton sequel in the White House are getting real, or there really will be a massive shift in Democratic voters to the campaign of Republican John McCain. Either way, the attention of those people who truly are trying to find a partner for an Obama presidency are looking to more serious candidates.

TO REHASH WHAT I have written before, I have been one of those people who always thought the idea of an Obama/Clinton (or Clinton/Obama) ticket was pointless. The two of them are identical in so many ways that the presence of one on the ballot adds nothing to the overall package that wasn’t already offered by the other.

Both Obama and Clinton are liberal enough on social issues and come from adopted urban backgrounds (Chicago vs. New York as opposed to their real homes of Honolulu vs. Park Ridge, Ill.). To come up with the traditional concept of a vice presidential running mate who helps plug the holes in the presidential nominee’s biography, Obama needs to look to anybody but Hillary.

I was always of the belief that an off-beat, but worthy, possibility for running mate would be New Mexico Gov. (and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) Bill Richardson, but that Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., was a more likely choice.

He is a somewhat conservative white guy who won as a Democrat in a Republican-leaning state who would go a long way toward appealing to those people who (for whatever reason) have a problem with a candidate who is as blatantly urban as Obama is.

BUT WEBB HAS since said he is not in the running, and it is getting close to the time when Obama needs to have a partner. After all, he hired a chief of staff for the vice presidential candidate. It's about time Patti Solis Doyle learned who her boss will be.

So the Obama campaign’s professional vetters (when they weren’t coming under fire from Republican political operatives) have had to turn elsewhere.

Now around this part of the country, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who also is a former governor of the Hoosier state, is the focus of a lot of political talk.

He gets points from political geeks because he is one of them. He has held various state and federal elective offices for 22 years. Once the youngest governor in the United States, Bayh was elected to his first office in 1986 as Indiana’s secretary of state.

LITERALLY, HE HAS been an elected official since the days when Obama was a community activist working on behalf of the residents of the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s far South Side.

Yet unless Obama is suddenly willing to write off his Chicago ties of just over two decades and start portraying himself as the first Hawaiian to run for president, I can’t see the Obama/Bayh ticket. Such a ticket might take the electoral votes of the region once represented by minor league baseball’s old “Three Eye” League, but it might seem too parochial to the rest of the country.

The same might be said of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who supposedly was a favorite of Obama early on in the process. But her choice could appeal to some of the women who feel Hillary got snubbed, although I am sure there are others who will start bringing up comparisons to Geraldine Ferraro’s 1984 vice presidential bid – out of hopes they could turn Obama into the equivalent of Walter Mondale (who only won the electoral votes of his home state of Minnesota in that election).

Of all the names that have been tossed out as possible vice presidential candidates for the Democrats, the one that most intrigues me is Joe Biden, the long-time senator from Delaware.

HE MAY HAVE the national security credentials from his experience on various Senate committees during his 36 years in Washington. But this is also the man whose own presidential dreams were toppled due to a pair of so-called scandals.

Let’s not forget his so-called plagiarism of 1988 in campaign speeches (he got sloppy with his attribution in using lines once spoken by Neil Kinnock of Great Britain’s Labour Party), and the comments he made last year about Obama’s “articulate and bright and clean” nature that were interpreted by some people as a slur against African-American people.

While I always thought people were making too much of an issue out of Biden’s lame attempt to lavish trivial praise on Obama, it would be a test to see how an Obama/Biden pairing could co-exist. Has Obama truly forgiven the gentleman from Delaware, or is there some lingering hostility?

It would be ironic if Biden, whose career beyond his home state was supposedly left for dead, were to be resurrected beyond belief by becoming the vice presidential run ning mate, literally only a heartbeat away from the top job that he would desire for himself.

I CAN ALREADY hear the wisecracks from political people who find humor in jokes about a president needing an official food taster to protect him from his running mate. Think I’m kidding? Similar jokes are told in Illinois political circles with regard to lieutenant governor Patrick Quinn, who during the past six years has developed a strained relationship with Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

But on a serious note, I would take the presence of Biden as the ultimate evidence that no one (regardless of what kind of stupid thing they say or do) should ever be left for dead. Political redemption is always possible.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Is Joe Biden out of the political doghouse? (

Aides to Barack Obama are traveling about the nation in hopes of finding the perfect running mate ( who will not have some skeleton in his life’s closet ( that would cause embarrassment for Obama and defeat for the Democrats in the Nov. 4 elections.

Obama already has hired a chief of staff for his vice presidential running mate. All he needs now ( is the running mate.

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