Monday, August 4, 2008

More Running Mate Speculation

We're still at that stage where there's not much else to write about, so the process of choosing vice presidential nominees continues to dominate political journalism.

Bill Kristol, in his New York Times Op-Ed today, writes about what little he has been able to glean from tight-lipped McCain aides about the process on the Republican side. He also gives the Republican candidate some unsolicited advice.

Kristol lists some of the usual suspects, plus some less-familiar names.

Rob Portman of Ohio, who has been a congressman, chief trade negotiator, and director of the Office of Management and Budget, is being mentioned more often as the process rolls on.

Kristol reports that McCain now seems likely to wait until the Republican convention has begun, before naming his running mate.

As I wrote here, the tendency in recent years has been for presidential candidates to name their vice presidential choices before their convention begins. If, as I suspect, that is a reaction to the Eagleton debacle of 1972, I don't know that it's necessary to make the announcement ahead of time. The important consideration is to thoroughly investigate the background of potential running mates, which was not standard procedure up to 1972.

Perhaps the rationale for making the announcement early has been to give the presidential candidate time to back down from the choice, should negative information come to light. But that would make a candidate look at least as bad as George McGovern did in 1972, when he chose Eagleton. Nowadays, when thorough background checks are made, such a "safety valve" should be unnecessary.

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