Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

How The Press Leads Candidates to Make Silly VP Choices

In the last 20 years or so, the traditional media has reduced the VP selection process to a silly parlor game free of any substance and entirely focused on the political implications of the pick. The analysis is focused on “the ticket,” and how the two of candidates fit together. For example, much of the Palin analysis says that she’ll help McCain appeal to blue-collar, working class areas because of her life story (and by the way, I agree). And this obsession on how the pieces fit together translates from pundits to delegates to the candidates themselves. In the course of doing so, everyone, led by the press, has lost the one simple question that matters with a VP choice.

First up, the hack-tastic Bill Kristol in today’s NY Times:

And Obama supporters can’t get too indignant about Palin’s inexperience. She’s only running for the No. 2 job, after all, while their inexperienced standard-bearer is the nominee for the top position. And McCain doesn’t need a foreign policy expert as vice president to help him out.

Then, a Republican delegate talking to Nate Silver in St. Paul:

Palin is viewed very favorably in my limited survey. On the experience issue, the party line is that any governor experience, however brief, trumps all legislative experience that Obama has. And Palin will learn on the job behind McCain.

Finally, the campaign of John McCain itself:

She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long,” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers, making light of concerns about Mr. McCain’s health, which Mr. McCain’s doctors reported as excellent in May.

Ignoring the fact that the notion that “John McCain doesn’t need any national security help” is patently ridiculous, this really boils down to: “She’s only running for VP, not President, so she has time to learn, and some things she won’t need to because McCain will be there.”

The simple fallacy across all these statements? The entire point of a VP is to be President at a moment’s notice. There is no qualification to be VP, there can only be qualification to be President. It’s not about a ticket and how the two work together, it’s about whether number 2 can step in to be number 1 tomorrow if necessary. I’ll repeat:


But when pundits, official party delegates, and the campaign itself don’t see it that way, then something fundamentally has changed in the selection process.

And this, I blame at the feet of the media. They have reduced the Veepstakes game to such a immature level, talking only about electoral implications, balancing tickets, taking the “rough edge of a candidate,” helping him or her “connect,” that it’s no wonder even the campaigns themselves believe this talk.

Don’t get me wrong, John McCain made his pick, the buck stops with him. But this is the environment these guys swim in now, and it’s toxic and bad for the country.

Luckily Barack Obama was able to ignore such ridiculousness. He picked someone using the only criteria that mattered: readiness to serve. And it’s that criteria that almost everyone in the press and their analysis has ignored.


September 1, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy, Uncategorized, Veepstakes | , , , , ,


  1. These guys are choking on their own spin. Nobody is buying this crap and it’s just giving people a stark reminder of why they can’t trust the GOP.

    Comment by Stroszek | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  2. Out of desperation and under pressure from the very people McCain once referred to as the “agents of intolerance”, John McCain caved. He has now irrevocably cast his lot with the far right, and has relinquished the “experience” argument once and for all. But even more fatally, he has called into question his own judgment and reminded voters that he has a long history of being reckless and unpredictable.

    This was a major gamble, and the odds were against him. If he pulls this off, America will be the biggest loser.

    Comment by Mark F | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  3. How is this news it was obvious by his how she was picked, for god’s sake I could figure that out. I didn’t need it spelled out in 3 points. That is precisely why since the beginning I decided to vote for Obama, his decisions are well thought out not a gut instinct!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Brenda Gouck | September 1, 2008 | Reply



    You are the first candidate the U.S. has had in a long time that has continued to spread false information from the first time you hit the campaign trail.

    I find your technique one of the most offensive I have ever experienced. I find your ethics are on the border of being unethical and your manipulation of the facts most disgusting.

    It is common knowledge that the media will always press United States citizens to vote for the candidate who offers them the biggest kick-backs, pay-backs, and over-all “favors”. That is you, Obama.

    Then look at your over all personas: Your stance, the way you hold your head, your gestures, the clothes you wear, the pronouns and adjectives you use. Everything about you is the personification of an individual, who does NOT, let me repeat DOES NOT, have the United States citizens interests’ at heart. You are an elitist and the persona I just described is living proof — your entire appearance is proof — FACT — of what I say.

    Okay – now let’s talk about education. You have a law degree but did not practice law. Why? Readers – look this one up and you will see why. And, the result is not a positive one.

    Then there is the community organizer work you undertook in the state of Illinois. That, too, has been overstated and turned into something “positive” that it in fact was NOT. Dear readers – check this one out yourself as there are many Illinois citizens who will tell you the “truth.”

    My education – NOBAMA – is equal to or greater than your education. I do have the same ability as you to influence U.S. Citizens: And I certainly am taking the opportunity to exploit you for what you truly are.

    You see I am an educator, who works for a famous “Research One” institution, who has the ability to write Journal Articles that all college students will use for research. The true facts about you will come out and in a place that will most definitely do the most good – to influence voters “young voters” on how to spot an individual who does not represent the United States in the capacity as he states he will. Make no mistake, Obama, people will definitely know the subject of the Journal Articles is referencing you and your 2008 Presidential campaign.

    See you in “honest” fact-finding print.

    Comment by Versailles | October 4, 2008 | Reply

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