GOP: That Great Enemy of Reason
Leonard Pitts Jr
All presidential nominees pay lip service to the ideal of choosing the individual who is best qualified to assume the presidency if fate were to so dictate. But always present also is a pure calculation of seeking to strengthen the ticket politically or shore up a perceived weakness.
Such matters as ideological and geographical balance, gender, ethnicity and potential to capture a large chunk of electoral votes all get thrown into the pot. And sometimes when a presidential nominee feels a Hail Mary pass is necessary, desperate selections are made. Remember
In all three cases, there was no clear evidence that the choice made any real difference in the outcome. Ferraro, as the first woman nominated for national office, made no dent in the Ronald Reagan landslide re-election. Bush was elected over
But over than last 20 years, the winning presidential nominees --
In each case, the running mate proved to be more than a show horse, brought not only into the political but also the policy-making deliberations of the administration to which he was elected. The partnerships developed on the campaign trail were carried over into governance of the country -- for good or evil, depending on one's own perceptions.
So the experience of the last two decades weighs heavily on Romney, if he is nominated, to choose his running mate on the basis of true qualification to assume the presidency if so required, and to play a productive role in helping the president govern the country in the meantime.
In eight years as vice president, Gore proved to be an effective right-hand man to Clinton over a range of domestic matters. Cheney in eight years under Bush became a powerful voice in the shaping and implementation of foreign policy. And Biden for nearly four years has been an influential figure for Obama in both realms, as a former chairman of both the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.
Whether Romney will follow suit in his selection of a running mate obviously depends on his own perceptions of what role he wants that individual to play. The fact that he himself has had little experience with foreign policy or governing on the national level would suggest he will seek to shore up those deficiencies, but with someone personally compatible, to assure a smooth working relationship.
The current flavor of the month, freshman Sen.
In terms of being a partner in governance, Sen.
All this is no guarantee that a Romney running mate would not become another Ferraro, Quayle or Palin. But Mitt seems nothing if not cautious and serious. That alone would be a hopeful augur for selection of someone who really would be qualified for the presidency, and useful as vice president as well.
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