A VP for Change

Senator Hillary Clinton and former-Senator John Edwards are both under consideration by Senator Barack Obama’s as a running mate.Senator Obama himself has said, on numerous occasions, that Senator Clinton would “be on anyone’s short list.” And the Associated Press, among others, reported that Senator Edwards is in the running. Both would be poor choices.

In fact, Senator Obama should rule out anyone who has been on a national ticket of late. Yes, that would include former Vice President Al Gore, but that’s the price to be paid when “change” is the core principal of your campaign. (OK, I’d make an exception for Vice President Gore, but c’mon, what are the odds he’d take it? That would make him the Crash Davis of politics.*)

Senator Clinton stands for many things. Some good (those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling) and some not so good (much of her campaign from March through May). She’s a return to the 90’s, not a choice for the 21st century.

Senator Edwards has been around the track too many times as well. He’s lost twice for the presidential nomination and once as the running mate to Senator John Kerry. But there’s a bigger problem with Senator Edwards: his approach to politics is incompatible with Senator Obama’s. Yes, both are genuinely committed to lifting up the nation’s poor and to helping the middle class achieve greater security. But while Senator Obama’s approach is open, inclusive, and civil, that of Senator Edward’s is harsh, exclusive and borders on demagoguery. Senator Obama talks of “disagreeing without being disagreeable.” Senator Edwards demonizes his opponents

Senator Obama needs a running matethat demonstrates to independents and moderate Republicans that he’s serious about a more civil, results oriented political culture. That means steering clear of running mates that divide the country into “us” and “them.” It means finding someone with a proven ability to rise above partisanship in order to deliver meaningful change.

I’ve already written about how well Senator Evan Bayh meets this requirement. I haven’t looked into her background deeply, but from what I have read, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano might fill the bill, too.

Senator Obama’s greatest strength is the promise of change. Looking backward on the single most important decision a presidential nominee makes undermines the premise of his campaign. Yes, conventional wisdom and the talking heads urge him to go with Senators Clinton and Edwards. But if he listened to them, he’d never have run in the first place, let alone won the nomination.

* For the trivia fans amongst you: Crash Davis was the character played by Kevin Costner in Bull Durham who became the home run king of minor league baseball in virtual anonymity.

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