Some time in the next two or three weeks, John Kerry will make his first big public decision. Picking a running mate, as Bill Clinton has said, may be the defining act of a challenger's campaign, the one decision a voter can use to evaluate the guy. Moreso than petty electoral concerns, picking the right sidekick -- as the Big Dog did with Gore -- can spark the campaign with new energy and credibility. Pick the wrong Robin, and you'll reinforce existing doubts about your judgment.
Kerry says he wants someone with "stature" and foreign policy experience, a guy who can be a credible commander-in-chief immediately should misfortune befall Kerry.
Nice lofty goals, but one problem: Dick Gephardt fits the bill under this criteria while John Edwards, reportedly the only other guy in serious consideration, doesn't. That's what scares me, and it provoked me to tackle this tired topic yet again, just a month after that last anti-Gep rant. Many insiders think Gephardt might have the inside track, and that's unacceptable.
My suspicion...my hope really, is that this is a red herring. Kerry's lowering expectations in the media by pretending that he's gonna pick the most uninspiring, plodding, feckless old fart around. Without this bait & switch, Edwards' selection would be more or less inevitable and unexciting. But by floating Gephardt's name, making the "surprise" Edwards pick will generate all kinds of excitement, much of it no doubt from relief that an antique sofa-bed wasn't tapped for the job. So it's a brilliant ploy, if in fact this is Kerry's ploy.
Consider the alternative. If he goes with the browless Missourian, Kerry would show himself to be exactly the lifeless, uninspired, risk-averse establishment figure we fear that he is. Together, they'd be Dull and Duller, generating all the ebullient synergy of Frankenstein and the Mummy. They would, in effect, look like a feeble Dem Duo from 1985, except with voting records stretching 95 years. Lt. Flip-Flop meets Sgt. Flip-Flop, the attack ads will cry.
In short, Gephardt is the loser's candidate. (Check out that link.) Dick Loserman. Not Dick Gethard, as mention of his name will elicit not erections but groans among liberal activists and pundits. Indeed, he's not even popular in Missouri. Only vocal supporter for Gephardt? The National Review.
I'm sure former House majority leader is a nice guy, a decent man, a fine candidate for a cabinet post. But please, no more Dicks at No. 2.