Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

The Cynicism of ‘VP Replacement’ Rumors

It seems like every four years we get rumors that a VP candidate will be replaced on the ticket: Quayle, Cheney, and now, simultaneously, Biden and Palin. Obviously, the first two never happened, and it’s extremely unlikely that the latter two will. But I have a pet peeve about these rumors, and it goes precisely to the reason they will never come true.

In her column urging Palin’s replacement, Kathleen Parker says:

McCain can’t repudiate his choice for running mate. He not only risks the wrath of the GOP’s unforgiving base, but he invites others to second-guess his executive decision-making ability. Barack Obama faces the same problem with Biden.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Meanwhile, here’s a summary of Biden’s rumored exit:

So in the days after the vice presidential candidates debate in Missouri, Biden will bow out, citing “health problems” (Biden underwent surgery in 1988 to repair two brain aneurysms).

The problem with these rumors is that they assume the candidate will cite some transparently ridiculous fig leaf, which those “in the know” will recognize as BS, but which those gullible, uninformed rubes out there will accept without question.

But that’s not how it would happen at all. If a VP candidate dropped out, everyone would know exactly why it happened. Parker’s hairsplitting between McCain kicking Palin off the ticket and Palin volunteering to do it herself is meaningless. Nor would anyone buy that Biden’s health problems from 20 years ago, which were well known before he was picked, would suddenly become relevant.

The fact that these rumors miss this key detail demonstrates that they’re really nothing more than a Beltway parlor game. And it also explains why they won’t happen. If a VP candidate were dropped, and everyone recognized it as an admission of failure, it would be politically disastrous. And the assumption would be that the only reason the nominee was willing to make such a disastrous move was because sticking with their original choice would be even more disastrous.

McCain may be a crazy drama queen, but he’s not suicidal.


September 27, 2008 - Posted by | Veepstakes | , ,


  1. I agree completely that these rumors are ridiculous.

    But especially so in the case of Biden. Why on earth would he be replaced? He’s doing a perfectly fine job. See, for example, his work last night after debate, in which he played the attack job and raised McCain’s poor voting record on Veterans affairs, something Obama probably didn’t want to bring up during the debate.

    At least with Palin I understand WHY these rumors exist.

    Comment by dansac | September 27, 2008 | Reply

  2. There’s no reason to replace Biden. He’s just the right person to balance Obama’s strengths.

    Comment by mike3k | September 28, 2008 | Reply

  3. The bobbleheads talking about VP replacement are stoopid and out of touch. The VP is selected based on their ability to be a surrogate for the Presidential candidate and reassure his supporters that s/he would be a suitable substitute if the Pres was incapacitated.
    No VP nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1960 has brought in a state that the Pres nominee wouldn’t have carried on his own.
    McCain’s error in selecting Palin was that he was attempting to get swing voters, especially women while solidifying the rightwing base. So instead of picking a more experienced GOP woman like Bailey-Hutchinson, Snowe, Collins, Todd-Whitman, Rell – he was forced to find a female pol who was anti-choice and ended up with not-ready-for-prime-time Palin.

    Comment by CParis | September 28, 2008 | Reply

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