Thursday, June 24, 2004

Looking for Mr. Right

No one but John Kerry really knows who he is seriously considering for his running mate. The pundits have all had their say (Vilsack and Gephardt), and Ralph Nader is pushing John Edwards (which will probably spell doom for the North Carolina Senator right there). Newsweek reports that Mr. Kerry is “not personally comfortable” with Mr. Edwards. Well, if history is any guide, comfort level is not a strong criterion for choosing a vice president.

FDR had three vice presidents in his four terms in office and barely knew them – Harry Truman, upon succeeding to the presidency in April 1945, had no idea that the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb, was underway. Eisenhower, when asked what contribution Nixon had made to his administration, said, “Well, if you give me a few hours, I might think of something.” And LBJ said of his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, “I’ve got Hubert’s balls in my pocket.” (Thank you for that image, Mr. President.) So there is no real precedent for the president and vice president to be best buddies.

So if Senator Kerry doesn’t have a close personal friendship with John Edwards – or any of the candidates – it doesn’t really matter in terms of historical perspective. Aside from providing an electoral advantage, which is no small consideration, the only other test should be whether or not his running mate has the abilities to do the job – of president.