Remember Rube Goldberg? If you don't, he's the guy who drew outlandishly complicated pictures with the purpose of doing something very simple, like cracking an egg or lighting a candle. Thanks to the Democrats, Barack Obama will be facing a similar situation picking a running mate. With their actions (or inactions, as the case may be), they've put a number of hurdles before the man they supported to be their nominee.
Here are just some of the obstacles in Obama's way:
- The Hillary Trap In a normal campaign year, the person who comes in second in the primaries or who appears to be second in the primaries is at the top of the list for running mates. With the Democrats this year...not so much. The campaign between Obama and Clinton was very ugly, to the point that an Obama/Clinton ticket would not even be feasible. Yet, people think it's the most logical pairing because both have so many supporters and because they think it would unite the party. Think again. It would rip apart the party, as there are still many supporters of the two candidates who do not like the other one and would not do anything to help the party as a result. And considering Hillary's worked her way onto the ballot...
- The DNC Trap Among the other contenders for the VP slot are names like Joe Biden, Jim Webb, Evan Bayh, John Kerry, and Wesley Clark. What do each of these men have in common? They're all rich white Leftist males. Contrary to what Howard Dean says, rich white Leftist males are the heart and soul of the modern Democratic Party. What kind of message do you think would be sent if the man who has been preaching change on the campaign trail picked a member of the DNC establishment to be his running mate? To some, it would mean Obama isn't sure enough of his own abilities to be his own man, so he "needs" a white man to make the case for him. That won't sit well with minorities, particularly members of the African-American community. To others, it would mean Obama is making a white man subservient to him. That won't be a winner with Northeastern Leftists, who tend to be...well, rich white Leftists. To appease the money folks in the DNC, Obama may be forced to pick a "DNC-approved" running mate.
- The Minority Trap Another name brought up as a possible running mate for Obama is Bill Richardson. Although he looks like a white guy, he's actually Hispanic. Considering much has been made of Obama's ethnicity (and to a lesser extent, Richardson's), this can be problematic. Obama has not made as much of an outreach to the Hispanic community as Clinton has, but they are a legitimate voting bloc for Democrats. Picking Richardson would appear to be a step towards getting Hispanics on Obama's side, but it has the potential to backfire on him. For one, it would look like a purely political move, which would turn off at least some blacks and Hispanics. Plus, having an all-ethnic ticket would certainly turn off the aforementioned Northeastern white Leftists. On the other hand, not picking another minority would tick off some minorities. In other words, he's damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.
- The Fringe Left Trap Yes, dear friends, the MoveOn/DailyKos/DemocraticUnderground/Huffington Post/Keith Olbermann crowd might also take their ball and go home. Let's not forget these are the same bozos who said Joe Lieberman wasn't Democrat enough (and gave me plenty of "Where's Senator Ned Lamont?" jokes to last me a lifetime), and they hold quite a bit of power and money within Democratic ranks. This puts Obama in a difficult position if he wants to retain their support: kowtow to them, or risk their wrath. If he chooses the former, he'll hurt his chances with conservative Democrats and independents. If he chooses the latter, say bye-bye to donations from George Soros's network of Leftist organizations.
- The McCain Trap No, I'm not kidding or high. John McCain has the ability to impact Obama's decision on more than a couple of levels. If Obama feels he can't stand toe-to-toe with McCain's military record, he might choose someone like General Wesley Clark or John Kerry. If Obama feels he's not seen as reform-minded, a dark horse like Russ Feingold could come into the picture. If he wants to take on McCain economically, he might pick someone more fiscally conservative. In each case, Obama would be letting McCain impact his decision on some level. When you let your opponent guide your strategy, you stand a good chance of losing.
- The RNC Trap While McCain may not be the type to slap down Obama for various reasons, the RNC aren't as reticent. State Republican Party folks are even getting into the act, as Jackson Browne can attest, and they are putting together some pretty impressive ads. Whether it's nailing him on questionable statements he's made or raising inquiries into more personal elements, they are starting to hurt Obama's campaign, which can have an impact on his choice in VP. In that case, Obama might choose someone to run intereference for him, but if the VP choice has a spotty past, then there will be twice the headaches for the campaign. And all because they weren't prepared for what the GOP would throw at him.
Who would have thought picking a running mate would be so difficult?