Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One VP Question I Haven't Seen Discussed

One of the time-honored roles for a VP is as the official attack-dog of the campaign. This isn't true of every presidential VP pick, especially in recent years, but it can be a useful consideration. While Obama and McCain have not been as annoyingly nice as I was afraid they would be during this campaign season, neither one really seems to be comfortable with going for the other guy's jugular. Obama is just too obsessed with his own high self-regard and McCain seems confused whenever he has to attack the OTHER party. It takes them both out of their element (Obama's element is praising Obama, and McCain's is talking about how lousy those OTHER Republicans are). So why not pick the VP that can most effectively take the fight into your opponent's living room?

In Obama's case, I'd be tempted to say that this consideration makes Biden the prime choice, if it wasn't for Joe's penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth. Other good choices would include any of the seasoned old veterans like Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, etc. For McCain, I think it would definitely be a Christ/Portman/Romney type. Whatever other flaws they may have, all are bright, quick on their feet, and have a decent amount of political experience. The young guns like Palin and Jindal would make poor attack dogs because they have the most to lose in terms of harming their own political futures, and the business world types like Fiorina and Fred Smith don't know the political world well enough.

FWIW, I doubt either campaign will pick based on this criterion. Neither guy seems to think in those terms. But, given that negative campaigning generally works, such a decision could mean a lot more than vague guesses about who balances the ticket or brings a swing state into the fold. Voters may not vote based on who the VP pick is, but they DO listen when the VP starts swinging for the fences. See Darth Cheney's mauling of Silky Pony back in the 2004 vice presidential debates for a good example of this.