( – promoted by lowkell)
by Paul Goldman
Governor McDonnell has got to be wondering: Am I the new Tim Kaine? McD hit the road this weekend, going to South Carolina for a big political event. He will be flying to Missouri soon to address that state GOP’s big fund-raiser. If VP hopefuls had to know how to work the “poles,” as opposed to the polls, Governor McDonnell would enrolling in one of Brian Moran’s for-profit colleges to learn how to run a strip club.
McD can’t be accused of playing coy: he is campaigning to be the 2012 GOP candidate for Vice President. Some pundits believe that is equivalent to jumping out of the life boat and swimming toward the Titanic. Still, you have to figure: Governor McDonnell must have thought about the experience of his predecessor while jetting back from the Palmetto state this weekend.
Tim did his Tom Cruise thing perfectly, made “all the right moves” during the Obama VP selection process. His campaign speeches were on point, those TV appearances on the talk shows getting him an A+ rating. To the naked eye, he took Joe Biden to the hoop and slam dunked over the Delaware Senator.
“Your momma!” Tim said, as he motioned for Joe to get the ball. Besides, Mr. Biden had been crushed in the 2008 presidential primaries, was old school, a pillar of the Washington establishment, and the polls showed a strong anti-establishment mood from coast to coast. That was one why reason rookie lawmaker Barack Obama had proven such a powerful challenger to favored Senator Hillary Clinton.
On paper, Barack and Tim seemed the perfect team: new generation, North and South, smart, savvy and smooth. With the people down on those in charge, the two Harvard boys seemed from central casting. Besides, the country had gone through 20 years of Yale boys. Enough is enough.
But then: Barack Obama got a wake-up call at 3 AM.
Okay, not an actual call. But the proverbial one: the presidential candidate knew he lacked foreign and military policy experience. During the primaries, the Clinton campaign had drawn political blood by claiming she, not Obama, was the one the nation needed in the White House when a foreign policy crisis broke early in the morning and someone had to go wake up the President.
Four years before, Texas Governor George W. Bush had chosen Dick Cheney for a running mate in order to address a similar political fear: that of losing votes because voters might think you’re not up to the job of Commander in Chief. So, Bush took the former Defense Secretary, and experienced Washington player, as his running mate. Sure, it proved a huge blunder after they won, but it helped Bush win the election.
Why? By choosing Cheney, Bush avoided the Agnew/Eagleton/Ferraro/Qualye risk. Those VP picks were relative unknowns when snatched from the back bench to the front pew of a presidential campaign. The media frenzy ensuing – this is part of the process – turned all of them into liabilities by election day.
Given the size of the Bush win over Gore (there wasn’t any; in fact, he lost the popular vote), choosing a rookie would likely have cost George W. the White House. Or so the reasoning goes.
Barack Obama made the same calculation in 2008: Joe Biden, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had solid foreign and military policy credentials. Barack Obama was like George W. Bush: a new player on that chess board. Tim Kaine might have been the ideal fit in many ways, but Biden made more practical political sense.
Which brings us to 2012 and Tim McDonnell, also known as Bob McDonnell when he is Virginia. True, Governor McD has military experience, but he’s certainly no Dwight Eisenhower. Instead, Bob is like Tim, a popular Governor in a swing state who can handle himself on the stump. Meaning that he has the Kaine problem – do you want McD in the Oval Office if Iran goes nuclear?
Personally, I can’t imagine any of the GOP presidential candidates in the Oval Office being handed the “nuclear football” (as Secretary of State Palin and National Security Advisor Herman Cain give advice?). That would be “The Sum of all Fears,” as in the movie by the same name. Hopefully there won’t be a Middle East crisis, of course, but the Iranian leadership hasn’t been our friends since the hostage crisis under Carter.
But you say: What about the Iranian people, they like us? My response: They don’t have the A-bomb; our enemies, the Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard, do.
Will the GOP presidential nominee – Mitt Romney, presumably – think he needs the GOP version of Joe Biden, given that his entire foreign policy experience amounts to mediating disputes regarding which country gets to march where in the opening parade at the Winter Olympics?
So I ask: Should McDonnell go nuclear, and head to the Middle East to learn first hand about the Iranian problem? The Iranian nuclear bomb is tied to oil, to the Arab Spring (or is it already winter?), to the battle against terrorism, and of course to the Middle East peace process — not to mention Israel, Iraq, the gas pipelines to China and India. In other words, if you can ace the exam on this area, you move to the head of the class.
There is time for Governor McDonnell to become well versed in all these areas, even to give a big speech or two. Like it or not, the Iranian A-Bomb creates a cloud over McD’s VP hopes. But he can see that as a problem, or an opportunity. Either way, going nuclear has to make him a more likely choice for VEEP based on history.
Ask Tim Kaine.