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July 06, 2004

IT'S A JOHN-JOHN TICKET: John Kerry has picked John Edwards as his running mate. Though I personally would have preferred Gephardt, who's stronger on the war, Edwards is a good choice for Kerry -- and it speaks well of Kerry that he didn't succumb to fears that the more-personable Edwards would overshadow him.

I suspect that the sunny Edwards fits into the return-to-normalcy Democratic theme that Mickey Kaus is pushing, too: "We need a break . . . to digest the history we've just made."

On the other hand, on the war front, the Kerry campaign seems to have managed to pull off some disinformation. . . .

But why is there still nothing about this on the Kerry campaign blog?

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg thinks Edwards is a good pick for Kerry, but is worried about Edwards' national security qualifications.

He also wonders if Edwards will be overshadowed by all the McCain talk that went on. For a while, I guess, but not for long.

My own prediction, by the way, is that at an opportune moment Cheney will drop off the GOP ticket for vague medical reasons and be replaced by someone whose selection will make a splash.

More on the disinformation bit here. And there's an interesting discussion on the topic at Daniel Drezner's. Sounds like the Edwards pick is a tribute to the power of Matthew Yglesias!

MORE: Hmm. www.kerrypicksedwards.com takes you here. Interestingly, so does www.kerrypicksgephardt.com. But www.kerrypicksmccain.com doesn't go anywhere. . . .

STILL MORE: Interestingly, Edwards was almost more pro-war than Kerry, to judge by these statements, though on the other hand he appears to have engaged in Kerry-like waffling over the funding for reconstruction. No doubt we'll be hearing a lot more on this soon.

And here's a post of Jim Miller's on Edwards' experience and qualifications. Many journalists and bloggers will be thanking Kerry for picking someone who ran in the primary, as it makes all those archived Edwards items useful again. It's a pro-recycling ticket!

MORE STILL: Pejman Yousefzadeh has a long, link-filled post on Edwards that's worth your time. It opens: "I really ought to stop betting on Dick Gephardt."

David Hogberg: "I still think Kerry’s best choice would have been Evan Bayh of Indiana. But maybe John Edwards is not a bad second choice. Maybe."

Jeff Jarvis: "Let the sniping begin!"

Howard Kurtz: "The press was collectively willing John Kerry to pick John Edwards, and got its wish when word leaked at 7:30 this morning. . . . The television chatter has been upbeat, in keeping with the media-industrial complex's conclusion that the North Carolina senator, the last man standing in the Democratic primaries, should get the nod."

Michael Ubaldi, meanwhile, has found something of a smoking gun regarding Edwards and the Iraq reconstruction money. Expect to hear more about this.

Meanwhile, I have to say that I think the Republicans' attacks on Edwards as a "sleazy trial lawyer" will misfire. That kind of thing appeals to the base, but most swing voters won't share that instinctive hostility -- and harping on it too much will just make the Republicans look like tools of Big Business.

Matthew Yglesias (who's modestly refraining from taking credit for the selection of Edwards over Gephardt): "As I see it, this is good for three reasons. One, it makes it more likely that starting in 2005, George W. Bush will no longer be in office. Two, VP nominees have a way of becoming presidential candidates down the road, and Edwards would be a better president than Dick Gephardt. Three, and most least importantly, I'd gone way out on a limb with the Gephardt-bashing and wasn't looking forward to needing to defend him after all once he got the nomination."

Josh Marshall: "I'd say this is a very solid pick on many counts."

TAPPED: "Rarely in American history has there been a groundswell of public support for a potential Vice Presidential nominee, as there has been for John Edwards."

Mr. Sun has pictures!

Finally, reader Chris Jefferson thinks that Bush is outmaneuvering Kerry. Click "more" to read his email.

From reader Chris Jefferson:

For some time, I have suspected that Bush has been pulling a huge head fake about Cheney. I share your suspicions for the following reasons.

Kerry has basically chosen the safest choice available: John Edwards. It is not the intelligent pick that will help him broaden the Democratic Party. That would have been either Hillary Clinton or Evan Bayh. Either one of those candidates had a good record on the war that would have resonated well with moderate Republicans and Independents who would have lit up Roger L. Simon's website but good. I just don't see Edwards doing that. Neither Kerry nor Edwards voted for the 87 billion dollar appropriation, for instance. As I'm one who believes that the worm will turn Bush's way in Iraq, and soon, I suspect that these votes will come back to bite both men in the butt. However, as Edwards polled well in focus groups and was popular among national Democratic pols, Kerry went with the safe choice who won't overshadow him.

Now for the next three weeks, the media will do its best to create a hagiography about Kerry and Edwards and contrast them with Bush and Cheney. Kerry will be secure in the knowledge that his running mate will energize the Democratic base in ways that he cannot and appeal to independents. This is where it pays to be President. You always have ways of seizing the initiative. If, in the next two or three weeks, Bush can find a way to step all over Kerry's party with a veep announcement, he could throw a huge monkey wrench into the Democratic campaign and it will focus the Press back on the President. Kerry wants to use the Edwards announcement to create a steamroller effect that will culminate in a Boston coronation and the aura of inevitability that he lost to Bush in May. If Bush can break this up, he breaks up Kerry's momentum and puts the game back at 45-45-10 (Nader doesn't count-he got 1% in 2000, and he will get less now. Same goes for those goobers in the Constitution Party and the Libbietarians) going into HIS convention.

This is where Condoleezza Rice comes in. Her performance before the September 11th committee was pretty damn good, given the fact that the Democrats had come for a lynching. So I think she passed the pressure test to Bush's satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of most Americans. Only the Moore crowd dislikes her, and they dislike Bush anyway. I have a strong hunch that Bush knows how to keep a secret, and will announce Cheney's retirement (after the First Term is completed: no confirmation hearings to disrupt things) on the Thursday prior to the opening of Kerry's party. Indeed, if Bush decides to be a real prick, he'll do it on the Thursday of Kerry's acceptance speech, to drown out Kerry's face time with Condi Rice buzz.

Rice is a good pick for several reasons: seasoned foreign policy experience, sound conservative principles (especially on RKBA issues-gun people like me love her), and appears to be a centrist on abortion issues (she doesn't like it, and is personally pro-life, but doesn't want to try to repeal Roe, for instance). She's also black, female, and extremely telegenic.

Here's the problem with keeping Cheney: he doesn't reach out beyond the base demographic. Rice can do that. Republicans won't come close to winning black voters with Rice on the ticket, but if they score in the high teens, Kerry loses a bunch of battlegrounds that he needs. Rice can also make it a fifty-fifty game among women, and Kerry needs a sizable majority among women to win.

Cheney can't do this for Bush. I think Karl Rove knows this. I think it's now a question of timing (btw, I don't think it will be Rudy, as I think Rudy is to anti-RKBA for the base voters' comfort). Bush will wait until Kerry least expects it, and then will strike.

I find this scenario pretty plausible -- but then, I've been calling for Cheney to be replaced on the ticket, preferably by Condi, for quite a while. And given Edwards' record, it'll be hard to fault Rice for lack of experience, since her national-security credentials are a lot better than his.

I think that Cheney not only fails to bring votes to the ticket, but is an actual liability to Bush, and that if Bush keeps him it will probably cost him the election. I also think that there are a number of good picks out there -- not just Condi, but Rudy Giuliani (though I agree that the already-sullen gun-rights segment of the base wouldn't be overjoyed with him), John McCain, or Colin Powell, for example. We'll see.