Thursday, June 17, 2004

Matthew Yglesias's current American Prospect article, about why Dick Gephardt absolutely should not be John Kerry's running mate, is terrific. He reminds us that in 2002, when some Democrats and even a few Republicans wanted to put conditions on the use of force in Iraq, Gephardt engineered "a total capitulation to the president's demands." He explains how unpopular Gephardt is in much of his own (battleground) state. And he points out that Gephardt really has been the flip-flopper Republicans say Kerry is.

There's another huge problem, of course: Gephardt has absolutely no Elvis in him. The Democratic ticket obviously could use some more Elvis, but it sure isn't coming from Gephardt. (John Edwards, my choice for VP, doesn't have Elvis in him so much as Paul McCartney -- but McCartney in the Beatle years, when he still had an edge. I actually relish the prospect of an Edwards-Cheney debate, in which Edwards would be seen as a baby-faced underdog against the despicable old sewer rat -- Edwards made a hell of a lot of money as a trial lawyer, and I've read that he made it, in part, by not looking like the bulldog he actually was.)

Also, I worry about Gephardt's identification with unions and his stance on globalization. Hear me out on this: I like a lot of what Gephardt says on these subjects, but in the universe of "acceptable" discourse there is such a consensus on globalization (it's good for the world and, besides, it's inevitable, so quit bellyaching) and unions (Democrats need 'em, but boy, they sure are corrupt, parasitic dinosaurs) that a Kerry-Gephardt ticket will fight an uphill battle for respect all the way to November. And I don't mean Fox News's respect -- I mean the respect of The New York Times and The Washington Post and Time and Newsweek and all the other high-poobah, allegedly liberal news organizations. Gephardt as running mate? Just imagine the reaction of Thomas Friedman -- who, whether you like it or not, is one of the two or three most widely respected op-ed columnists in America. Now you can start to see the problem.

I just want to win this one. For crissakes, John -- pick somebody else.

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