Wednesday, October 04, 2006

# Posted 6:26 PM by Taylor Owen  

KERRY REVISITED (JUST FOR A SECOND, I PROMISE): From a new book by veteran Paul Rieckhoff, Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington:

At one point Kerry asked us all who we thought he should choose as his running mate. A few in the room mentioned John McCain. Rumors had circulated in the press for weeks about secret meetings between Kerry and McCain. Getting McCain to abandon Bush to run as Kerry's VP would change history. Together they could beat Bush. But Kerry made it clear the McCain option was not on the table.

One vet suggested Senator Cleland. Max is a hero and role model to every veteran. After losing three limbs in Vietnam from a grenade explosion, he ran for and won a seat in the Georgia state senate, and then became the youngest head of Veterans Affairs (VA) in history. An incredibly effective advocate for veterans, Max introduced America's first Vet Centers, revolutionizing VA care by providing vets with peer-to-peer counseling led by older combat vets. Max went on to be elected to the U.S. Senate. He was a guy with the most mojo I had ever been around.

But Max wouldn’t be Kerry’s choice either. Instead, Kerry asked us about Dick Gephardt. Everyone reacted tepidly. Then I proposed Wes Clark, arguing that in times of war, Americans trust a General. Generals project strength, which Democrats seriously needed. And Clark would bring in the most Independents and Republicans.

While there are a lot of 'ifs' in this, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that any of these would have been far better than Edwards. I am curious though, what would the majority of McCain supporters have done if he had made such a move? David, would you have unequivocally voted Kerry had McCain been on the ticket?

(9) opinions -- Add your opinion

I am an unabashed McCain supporter. I ultimately decided to vote for Kerry (only decided in the last 2 weeks of the race and after months of internal turmoil), but had McCain been picked as veep, I would've voted for him much more enthusiastically and without reservations. Polling proved that a Kerry/McCain ticket would've won in a landslide.

"When pollsters tested a Kerry-McCain ticket, the Democratic candidate suddenly gained a 14-point advantage [over Bush/Cheney]."

-from an October 2004 TNR article by Frank Foer.
If Mr. Kerry had chosen Jesus Christ as his running mate, the election result would have been the same.
Is there any evidence that McCain would have accepted it, or that it was ever more than wishful thinking?

"Kerry made it clear that the McCain option was not on the table." So the rumors of secret meetings in the press were presumably false. Was it ever more than just leaks by someone with an agenda, or some kind of thinking out loud that became a story?
John, I've always wondered that as well. Although I am not sure that Kerry saying that it was off the table necessarily means that he never asked.
As you correctly note, Taylor, my vote for Kerry was maximally equivocal. Given my strong support for John McCain, adding him to the ticket would obviously have been a positive. But positive enough to change my feelings about Kerry? I'm not sure.

How would McCain have reconciled his strong support for victory and democracy promotion in Iraq with Kerry's fence-sitting?

To what degree would McCain have had any real influence in a Democratic administration, as opposed to being a show horse for the campaign?

I don't have answers to those questions, but here's one for you, Taylor: Why do you think John Edwards was a bad choice?

Gephardt was dull. Clark can't keep his feet out of his mouth. I don't know much about Cleland, but Kerry had his own war record to run on. And Edwards never did anything bad for the campaign.

In hindsight, you can say Kerry would've done better to pick anyone who could've carried one more purple state and therefore the election. But someone could've lost him a purple state, too.

As I mentioned a little while back, hindsight is rarely 20/20.
I am reminded of something I read within the last week or so; if I could remember where, I'd credit (fell free to identify it)-

If you mix a pint of vanilla ice cream and a pint of dog shit in a blender, it's not surprising that it tastes much more like the latter.
Hey David,
Too be honest, I was never an Edwards fan. I just thought that he tried far too hard to be the 'common man', came across as superficial, and didn't have the gravitas needed to lift the democrats in a national security election. Basically, his shtick didn't work for me. Now of course you may be right concerning electoral votes, but despite his error prone ways, I do tend to think Clark would have been a better choice. In the end, probably wouldn't have made a difference though...
It's hard to come across as sincerely caring for the common man when you rake in 100+ million from malpractice suits...

One thing that I'm curious about with regards to a Kerry/McCain ticket, is why does everyone automatically assume this would be a dream team? Would McCain supporters be troubled that he allied himself with an avowed liberal? And wouldn't Kerry supporters be pissed that their man is now bringing in someone who isn't automatically ready to just shower money at a problem? My point is that maybe this pairing would have done more harm than good. Sure they look good on paper and at a first glance, but I can't help but think that the opposition would have made them look opportunistic and pandering...
Mr. Owen,

Is there any evidence that McCain would have even considered this? I thought I remembered some problems between Kerry and McCain over the Vietnam War protesting thing, but Wikipedia didn't have anything on it. It did have a link to a news story wherein McCain defended Kerry against the Swift Boat Veterans charges, but I would characterize the defense as more along the lines of "move on from Vietnam all of you" than full throated support for Kerry (he called the ads dishonorable, but said that both Kerry and Bush served honorably).

Also, even if McCain and Kerry had no personal issues (which they may not) and their governing philosophies were closer to each other, wouldn't McCain be taking an enormous political risk by doing that? Let's say Kerry-McCain win. Well, now McCain can't run for President outright until 2012 (when he'd be 76), and it would be far from certain that Democrats would support him then. And, if they would lose, his political career would be over. His Republican supporters would feel betrayed, and Arizona Democrats would have no more use for him. Joining a Kerry-McCain ticket would have been a "Ride into the Sunset" moment for his political career. Of course, depending on your political views, you may feel it would have been a noble way to go out, but it would have been the end either way.

I'm not the politics guy that you guys are, and probably not as smart either, but I just don't see this sort of thing anywhere in the realm of possibility.
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