Five months ’til post time, ladies and gentleman. Time to lay your money down on Veepstakes 2008. Who’s late for a date with insignificance? Is Hillary going to hitch her wagon to another Billanderer in the notoriously randy New Mexico Governor? Could Hillary or Barack stand Pat enough to select popular Senator Leahy from Vermont? Does Obama have a Dodd in this fight, and will McCain follow by tapping retired General Anthony Zinni the next week to render Veepstakes 2008 “a Dodd and Tony show”? We should only be so lucky. And where does Mike Huckabee fit in–is America really ready for a President who charts human evolution from Joseph of Nazareth?
Go ahead and bet the house! Be the first to brag about the time share you won for sagely picking Wesley Clark as the Democratic #2, or sheepishly admit the ’68 Mustang you surrendered picking a surprise comeback by Tom DeLay on the right. Double down, it’s all good fun, until someone loses the mortgage, and even then it’s still fun for one of you!
THE GOP – JOHN MCCAIN
Sarah Palin – Governor, Alaska: Young (44) and female, she’s frequently mentioned as McCain’s best hope for attracting women in the event of a Hillary candidacy. Well, until two weeks ago, anyway, when she announced that she was seven months pregnant–the kind of thing you can hide only if you’re 350 pounds or the Governor of a remote, media-malnourished northern state, and last I checked, she wasn’t morbidly obese. Never mind the post-partum jokes, I’m all for a can-do, multitasking woman running as the #2, but I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests to subject someone just off a grueling nine months of pregnancy to a grueling three months in the pressure cooker of a Presidential campaign, while she still has to raise her baby and continue her day job running the physically-largest state in the union. Catch her on a bad day, though, and it could make for a hell of a debate.
VeepsLine: 12 to 1
Bobby Jindal – Governor, Louisiana: An Indian-American/Asian-American Hindu-turned-Catholic Republican son of Punjabi parents and, at 36 years old, already a veteran of the U.S. Congress and the youngest governor in the United States. What would the haters do with that? What could they do? Of course that’s just as confounding to his image makers. How the hell do you define someone with that kind of profile? You’re better off just steering clear of that. Yes, he’s a classic product of the Melting Pot, but that’s a fondue so eclectic it’s just going to confuse the corn dog electorate. A favorite of Rush, Bobby might be enough to Limbaughtamize the party base for McCain. Born Piyush Jindal, he reportedly took his name from watching The Brady Bunch when he was four, which could help with older Gen X’ers, but also remind everyone of the fact that he wasn’t even born when John McCain was suffering around the clock in a Vietnamese prison camp. Excellent headline potential with birth name (“When ‘Piyush’ Comes to Shove” and stories on the improbable McCain Presidential comeback: “From Push Poll to…”, well, you get it).
VeepsLine: 3 to 1
Joseph Lieberman – Senator, Connecticut: Oh, and make no mistake, he’d do it. He’s not completely finished betraying his former party yet. He could help carry the Reagan vote by resurrecting Reagan’s famous line, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.” Probably still some partisan-unspecific Veep paraphrenalia sitting around from 2000 that they could use and save the McCain camp some much-needed dollars.
VeepsLine: 14 to 1
THE DEMOCRATS – BARACK OBAMA
Chris Dodd – Senator, Connecticut: Brains and integrity, he’d wipe the floor with Lieberman as they competed for Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes. On the other hand, even if McCain doesn’t pick Lieberman, Connecticut has 7 electoral votes. Obama and Dodd would have all kinds of smarts between them, but from a strength-of-ticket standpoint it would be like ordering a pint of India pale with a shot of blonde lager on the side. Plus, speaking of alcohol, it’s not going to do Obama any good when someone rolls out photos of Dodd and Obama’s patron, Senator Kennedy, sailor-drunk together in the 1970s.
VeepsLine: 10 to 1
THE DEMOCRATS – HILLARY CLINTON
Ed Rendell – Governor, Pennsylvania: Of course the idea of two Northeastern centrists is highly improbable, but at this point he’s one of the few high-profile friends she has left in this party (taking the Clinton position Sunday on Meet The Press was…New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Presumably the Lieutenant Governor of Rhode Island was already booked on Bloomberg). He’s got great party cachet, but honestly, after the next four weeks of hearing nothing but all Keystone State all the time, we’re not going to care from Transylvania or Pennsylvania, pedophilia or Philadelphia. There’s going to be attention fatigue setting in in a big way, and by August, Pennsylvanians will be all but begging Hillary to head west and tap Governor Strickland from Ohio just to keep the goddamned media out.
VeepsLine: 12 to 1
Willie Brown – former San Francisco Mayor/California State Assemblyman/Speaker of the House: This would be a stroke of genius on Hillary’s part: A black, womanizing, septuagenarian, she could poach huge chunks of the Obama, Bill Clinton, and John McCain constituencies in one fell swoop. This would remind everyone that she’s a Clinton and not someone to be underestimated, and McCain wouldn’t have a prayer in the fall.
VeepsLine: 5 to 1