Saturday, February 07, 2004

Dead Kittens
Howard Dean's last stand continues. He's gotten a fair amount of negative press here in Wisconsin since his appearance Wednesday night, for suggesting that if he didn't win here on February 17 he would be out of the race, and then immediately backtracking on it. Even dimwit morning TV anchors have taken to wrinkling their foreheads when they talk about him now, as if he were a retarded child who keeps playing with a kitten he doesn't know is dead.

And the kitten is dead. The latest Badger poll shows shows Dean a mile behind Kerry (Kerry 35, Clark 11, Edwards 9, Dean 8, and his "unfavorables" are twice as high as Kerry's). There's comparatively better news in today's caucus states, Michigan and Washington--Dean is second in each. Now here's the bad news--second is actually a within-the-margin-of-error gaggle with Edwards and Clark, and Kerry is smoking everybody--40 to 13 in Washington and 62-13 in Michigan. (Daily Kos has the numbers and analysis.) What's interesting about the numbers is not so much how dead Dean's candidacy is--it's how dead the candidacies of Edwards and Clark are as well. It's time to start thinking about unity behind the nominee, folks. And the nominee is John Kerry.

It's also time to start thinking about a running mate for Kerry. A New York Times story today says Dean has suggested he'd be willing to accept the VP slot on the Democratic ticket--but the story seems intended mostly to make Dean look stupid. He's got to know--just as every sentient reader has got to know--that the vice-presidency is not going to be offered to Howard Dean, period. Claiming that Dean hinted he would take the gig if offered mostly serves to riducule him as being out of touch with reality. And the assertion about Dean's VP aspirations is only hazily supported by the quotes in the story by Jodi Wilgoren, who's been accused by the Times' own ombudsman of anti-Dean bias. So take it as piling on, and not anything meaningful.

John Edwards is the logical VP choice based on good old geography, although there's an expectation now, in the wake of Al Gore and Dick Cheney, that the VP should be more than a ticket-balancing placeholder. He may not need to be, like Cheney, the chief operating officer of the government, but he should be, like Gore, somebody with a significant record demonstrating deep qualifications for the presidency. And no matter how impressive he is on the stump, that's not John Edwards. Trouble is, the Democrats' bench isn't very deep. Kerry doesn't need the two most obvious choices available--Wesley Clark and Bob Graham. But who else is there? I've heard talk of New Mexico governor and former Clinton U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson--a nice move toward the red-state West and the Hispanic community to boot, and Washington governor Gary Locke, who is, I guess, of Asian descent. But both of these guys feel like ticket-balancers and not COOs.

If you have any suggestions for who Kerry's running mate should be, well, that's what the "Comments" link following each post is for. Fire away.

Recommended reading: Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote a charming book about her experiences called What I Saw at the Revolution, but has ever since been trying to come up with something remotely as interesting for her newspaper column, and mostly failing. Lots of people in the blogosphere think she's half nuts, which her column on Janet Jackson will do nothing to dispel. The good people at Wonkette help with the translation.

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