by Adam | It seems pretty likely that Obama will announce his VP in the next 24 hours. As such, this is my last chance to weigh in on major options before it becomes a moot point. So, here's a brief rundown of the major choices that are being mentioned, in order from my most favorite option to my least.
To be clear, this ordering is based almost entirely on TACTICAL considerations. I tend to believe that Obama's presidency will be pretty much the same in character no matter who his VP is. Your mileage may vary. Anyway, on to the list. I include everyone who was trading above 4% on Intrade a few days back:
1) Wesley Clark
Upsides: Offers the almost unique combination of extensive foreign policy experience, AND being a "Washington outsider". Also offers the similarly rare combination of having opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, AND having unimpeachable military gravitas. Can easily call McCain out for comments like "I know how to win wars". Is well-liked by the progressive wing of the party. Has shown a willingness to aggressively go after McCain on the talk show circuit. Articulate, intelligent guy who comes off that way. As a Clinton supporter, will be seen as an olive branch to Clinton supporters.
Downsides: Has never held elected office, which will be used as a proxy for the "inexperienced" attack. Has some enemies in the military brass who will be dredged up and dragged around. Not a great campaigner. Doesn't have any ties to any swing states (Arkansas is not a swing state for Obama).
Upsides: extremely popular and rather successful governor. Strong civil libertarian who has managed to push some progressive agenda items through in a red state. Puts Montana firmly in play, and would probably help a lot in Colorado and Nevada. Has real-world foreign policy experience, most notably in the middle east. Great campaigner with a likeable, populist style and a Reaganesqe penchant for winning one-liners. An Obama victory sets him up as a very strong Democratic frontrunner in 2016. Catholic, which seems like a helpful demographic for Obama to reach out toward.
Downsides: Virtually unknown on the national stage, and it would require a huge investment in time and resources to make him an asset this late in the game. Might make more sense as a sub-in running mate if Obama is up for re-election in 2012 than as a first-time running mate.
Advantages: one of the most successful and accomplished governors in the nation. Has pushed through a progressive agenda in a red state, working across the aisle and increasing Democratic numbers. Fought and won battles against health insurance companies and energy companies to protect consumers and the environment. Has ties to Ohio and will play well throughout the midwest, and is Catholic.
Disadvantages: crypto-sexists and Hillary dead-enders will portray any non-Hillary woman as a slap in the face, and these people will be given airtime by the networks. Lacks significant foreign policy experience. Not a particularly exciting speaker, and may not be an effective "attack dog" for Obama.
3.5) Al Gore
Advatages: would be fine
Disadvantages: not gonna happen.
Advantages: just about the perfect resume: a little washington experience, a successful governor, extensive foreign policy experience. Completely locks down New Mexico, and helps significantly in Colorado and Nevada. Seems very comfortable as a supporting candidate. Strong progressive credentials, especially on the environment and energy.
Disadvantages: Rumors of a sex scandal in his closet. Double-minority ticket may be seen as too risky. Thanks to (or reflecting) James Carville's "Judas" comment, his selection will be seen as an extra-big slap in the face to Clinton supporters.
5) Hillary Clinton
Advantages: brings the full weight of the Clinton machine to bear. Energizes the disaffected wing of the party and probably increases Democratic turnout. Effective, tireless campaigner who will go after McCain hard. Might bring Arkansas into play, although it's a longshot. Will cause the Republican attack machine to twist itself in knots, as they have spent the last five months praising or laying off Hillary in an effort to drive a wedge in the Democratic party. Moreover, it will be tough for them to attack Hillary in typical anti-Hillary ways without weakening their attacks on Obama.
Disadvantages: weakens Obama's ability to run as an outsider. Despite the unity this would show, Hillary as a running mate will cause all the old primary wounds to get opened up again. Hillary's pro-McCain and anti-Obama comments will get played on a loop. Polarizing nature of the Clintons will hurt Obama with some independents and increase Republican turnout. High-profile nature of Hillary and Bill will make it hard for the Obama campaign to run the tight ship they have so far. All in all, the riskiest choice as a running mate, albeit perhaps the biggest potential benefit as well.
5.5) John Kerry
Advantages: would be fine.
Disadvantages: not gonna happen.
6) Joe Biden
Advantages: unimpeachable foreign policy cred. Unimpeachable experience. Catholic. Great attack dog; will hammer McCain relentlessly. Solid campaigner.
Disadvantages: some skeletons in his closet. A tendency to say some gaffe-ish things. Will attract some negative attention at some point. Age mismatch will lead to "upside-down ticket" accusations. Hurts Obama's ability to run as an outsider.
Advantages: both are reliable, mainstream Democrats who won't offend anyone.
Disadvantages: Boring. Washington insiders.
9) Evan Bayh
Advantages: experience both in Washington and as a popular governor. Easily the most popular Democrat in Indiana, and puts the state firmly in play. Would be a strong Democratic frontrunner in 2016 with an Obama win. Seen as an olive-branch to Clinton supporters.
Disadvantages: Bland. Not especially progressive, although progressive by Indiana standards. Costs the Democrats a valuable Senate seat that they are unlikely to get back any time soon.
10) Tim Kaine
Advantages: likeable, good campaigner. From a swing state.
Disadvantages. Pro-life. Not especially popular in Virginia. Would be a strong Democratic frontrunner in 2016 with an Obama win, which is bad if he's pro-life.
11) Chuck Hagel
Advantages: well, he's good on civil liberties and foreign policy, and the Republicans won't criticize him.
Disadvantages: pro-life, conservative Republican. Electoral suicide. Not gonna happen.
For the record, although they were not getting a lot of interest on the trading markers, let me mention two other folks whose names have appeared on short lists. I would put Jack Reed right after Hillary, and Sam Nunn right before Evan Bayh. I would say the Reed/Kerry/Biden area is about the limit of my "happy with the pick" zone.
Anyway, all of this will be obsolete really soon.
Memeorandum: More from On Politics