PLEASE, DADDY, DON'T GET DRUNK THIS VP VETTING SEASON
Matt Bai in The New York Times Magazine:
It's Pawlenty Time
The last thing Mitt Romney needs is a bold choice, like the untested Marco Rubio, for his running mate. If you're a nominee facing an incumbent president in chaotic times, your main job is to project a mundane kind of reliability. Unlike John McCain four years ago, Romney doesn't need to do anything radical. A more boring choice -- maybe Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty -- might be the best one he can make.
I know that Game Change (book and especially HBO movie) became a sacred text within the world of political insiders, but I think there's more than that to the fact that every Beltway pundit in America is practically begging Mitt Romney to make a safe VP choice. I keep saying this, even though I don't fully understand it myself, but it seems self-evident: the press really, really wants Romney to be both the Reassuring GOP Daddy and the centrist Messiah of Tom Friedman's third-party sermonettes. As I keep saying, I think it's because the Republicans have scared the Beltway press with their recent extremism, and Romney reassures insider journalists that no one really needs to do an intervention -- and, I guess, that no one needs to rethink the notion that all the truly unsettling extremism is either the fault of Democrats listening to hippie bloggers or the fault of, well, "everybody."
I don't know what the press is worried about -- if Romney does the unexpected and picks, say, Santorum, the press will just regroup and tell us it's a pragmatist's move and doesn't really say anything about the guy at the top of the ticket, except that he's really shrewd and calculating; if Romney picks a God-botherer like Bob McDonnell, we'll be told that only hippie bloggers think he's a God-botherer; if Romney picks Joe Pesci ... er, Chris Christie, we'll be told that Christie is surprisingly thoughtful and moderate, and that his loudmouth nature is merely on the surface; and if it's Rubio, well, we'll be told to pay no attention to hint of scandal because Senator McDreamy just such a rock star.
But for now, there's a weird anxiety about Romney, as if his glitchiness means he might be some sort of evil stepdad figure , in a Stephen King/Joss Whedon way. And we can't have that -- certainly we can't question how a party that wallows in lack of empathy could possibly choose a nominee who appears to have no human feelings. We just need to be reassured that everything's all right and Republicans aren't the biggest threat to the nation, because that would defy all conventional wisdom.