Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain's Mixed Bag of VPs

As Democrats put Obama/Clinton issues behind them, the Republican identity crisis comes front and center in John McCain's decision about a running mate.

Aside from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who may actually turn out to be the choice, the longish short list is all over the identity-politics lot:

Mitt Romney, a super-rich Mormon the candidate clearly despises, and holder of the Olympic record for flip-flopping on social issues;

Joe Lieberman, a McCain personal favorite, with the slight handicap of having run for VP as a Democrat, to say nothing of being a pro-choice Orthodox Jew, the prospect of whose presence on the ticket unsettles even the strong stomach of Karl Rove;

Tom Ridge, a pro-choice former governor with an undistinguished record as the first Homeland Security head, whose current work is sitting on the boards of Home Depot and Hershey;

Two business executives (Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina) with no political experience whatsoever but whose gender might appeal to diehard Hillary Clinton dissidents;

And even Colin Powell, who would bring racial balance and a respected military career but whose most recent public service involved helping George W. Bush lie us into Iraq and is a septuagenarian only a few months younger than McCain.

After Bush-Cheney, it's understandably complicated to figure out what enlightened Republicanism should involve this year, a problem with which McCain himself apparently wrestled after being sandbagged by Rove in 2000 when he considered switching parties himself.

If some voters have a problem wrapping their minds around the idea of Obama in the Oval Office, they may be equally bewitched, bothered and bewildered by whoever McCain chooses to be an elderly heartbeat away.

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