The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Sarah Plain and Tall II


August 29, 2008

Further thoughts on the Palin pick…

There seem to be two different logics to picking a running mate.*

Logic 1: Would this person make a good VP once elected? Could the person step into the role of President should the worst case scenario arise? Will the person be a partner in governing, capable of taking on a significant portfolio?

Logic 2: Will this person help the ticket win the election? Does the person bring some sort of constituency into the fold? Does the person shore up a perceived weakness in the top of the ticket?

You can kinda see where this is going… Obama seems to have followed the first, while McCain seems to have followed the second. Biden brings a lot to the table substantively–foreign policy expertise, deep knowledge of judicial affairs, mastery of the legislative process. He also has a few known campaign weaknesses, notably a tendency to go on and on and on and on and on and on and on… Palin brings the sizzle of picking a woman from way, way outside Washington. But its really hard to see her in the “Cheney” role at this point.

When Bush picked Cheney, you got the sense that the Cheney’s main role would be in governing, not campaigning. Recall when Clinton picked Gore–at the time, an out of the box selection, a southern guy rather than a ticket balancer. Gore, too, took on a substantial role in governing. Contrast with Quayle–supposedly to help Bush look younger and fresh, but not really known for any contributions to the Administration.

*These are ideal types, obviously in practice candidates consider all this and more when picking a running mate, but my claim is that one logic seems to dominate the process.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.