Please Pick A Nobody

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I’ve made the following points before, but they are worth repeating:

1. The Vice Presidency is the most useless institution ever devised by man. With rare exceptions, the Vice President has almost no pull within an administration, and is usually shunted off to state funerals and the like.

2. Vice Presidential candidates rarely have a major impact on the polls. As with point number one, there have been exceptions – notably the 1960 election – but there is little evidence that the Vice Presidential nominee moves the polls much one way or the other. There is almost certainly no LBJ-like figure on the horizon.

3. Losing Vice Presidential candidates go on to have non-descript political careers. Again, there are exceptions, including someone who went by the initials FDR. Lloyd Bentsen would also become an important cabinet member in the Clinton administration. By and large, however, these individuals do not ever come close to reaching the prominence they did as a losing candidate.

So with all that in mind, I whole-heartedly second Warner Tood Huston’s post titled: Dear GOP, Let’s Not Waste Romney’s VP Pick on One of Our Best Guys, OK?

I don’t want Paul Ryan to be Romney’s Vice Presidential pick. I also don’t want Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio to be picked. It’s not because I don’tlike these guys, but because I do like them. It is precisely because they are good politicians, necessary politicians, effective politicians that I don’t want them wasted as a measly VP pick.

Does that seem counter intuitive? Well, as the founders always used to say, let’s let history be our guide. History tells us that the vice presidency is a career killer, a position to which we should try to avoid nominating our best guys.

Not only do Rubio, Ryan, and Jindal all have bright futures that should not be wasted by a losing Vice Presidential run that will tarnish their image, or by spending four or eight years as a non-entity, but all these individuals have important work to do in their own spheres. The GOP is going to need Ryan to be their economic leader in the House a lot more than they need him to be the guy judging spelling bees. Bobby Jindal still has work to do in Louisiana, as does Chris Christie. Choosing any of these guys to be VP would be akin to relegating the best pitcher on a Major League baseball team to mop-up relief duties.

The sad fact is that though the Vice Presidency is itself fairly worthless, the VP can instantly become the most powerful man (or woman) in the world in the blink of an eye. So some thought should go into the pick. The best choice would be someone with some executive experience who has otherwise solid conservative credentials, and who is near the end of his term in office or already out of office. It would help if nobody would really notice if this individual never had the public spotlight again should Romney go down in flames.

If only there were such a potential candidate out there.


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  1. I know the thread is about who might be our next vice-president. The vice president is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Lyndon Johnson is a good example.

  2. Someone who’s an ordinary decent politician can serve as president. Getting elected as president requires a slightly different skill set than serving. Mostly it’s the ability to take and keep an oath to the Constitution, which is why the presidential succession consists of only such high level oathtakers instead of being all elected officials.

  3. I think this election Rubio would help bring Florida into the Romney column and would probably raise Romney’s vote total among Hispanics by 5%. I think Rubio could have an impact on the election. I think the rest of the Veep candidates would have almost none.

  4. I think Romney should be able to win Florida without Rubio. Not sure if such a selection would sway enough swing Hispanic voters in other states except perhaps New Mexico and Arizona. But I agree he would be the only one to have anything beyond a negligible electoral impact.

  5. Well we might just advocating abolishing the elective vice presidency in favor of appointive deputies assigned to supervise blocs of departments and agencies.

    Here is an idea:

    He has held office as a mayor, governor, and federal cabinet secretary; he served in Congress for a few years; and he has had to cope with the national media. He is likely as prepared as anyone to assume the executive responsibilities of the presidency and is not known for any odd or eccentric policy preferences. He has also had environmental lobbies breathing down his neck, so is more likely than most politicians to have had any conflict-of-interest problems exposed by now. He is 61 years of age and does not display much in the way of late life ambition, so should be well adapted to being second banana.

    By the way, “non-entity” is a gratuitous insult. The current occupant of the presidency might be called that. We do not need that in any position.

  6. An important aspect of the vice-presidency is that 14 vice-presidents have become president. That’s 33%, so the position is not a useless institution.

  7. I just finished Sean Trende’s book, which I will review when I have a moment. He makes a very good point towards the end about Rubio. He is a Cuban-American. We have this tendency to lump all Hispanic and Latinos together, when in fact they have very distinct cultural and political identities. So while he could help win Florida, he might necessarily have any appeal to a Mexican-American in New Mexico or a Puerto Rican in New Jersey.

  8. I’d love to see Romney not pick an attack dog. In recent years, the rule has been to pick someone who takes the low ground, while the presidential candidate takes the high ground. Supposedly that lets the candidate look classy. Romney could really look classy by picking a different kind of vp nominee. Plainspoken truth can be a lot more appealing than cheap shots.

  9. Rubio is the only one that could possibly help Romney a little but I would be surprised if he gets picked. It’s more like Portman or Pawlenty.

  10. I like Rubio. However, here is the thing; Hispanics are not a homogeneous community. They could say good for himself but would not necessarily vote for him because of that. Hispanic celebrities (naively like most others) think Obama is great and back him all over the hispanic media. Cubans, Venezuelans and other immigrants who have fled from leftist governments know better and would vote for a Rubio ticket, but most Hispanics don’t have that background. In terms of their religion, although they are somewhat socially conservative (the grown ups at least) they dont realize how in America, their vote affects this. Furhermore, In terms of helping with Florida, his election was not a straightforward Rep vs Dem issue but a complicated three way race. Also, the media could scare white independents with the claim that he is considered to be “the crown prince of the tea party movement” and awake their misplaced disgust.

    There is however a different voting block that can swing by a percentage and that is suburban women. The best way to court them is to have someone great like Kelly Ayotte who by the way is a wonderful Catholic and could also help with catholics in Ohio and Florida.

    Those are my USD 0.02

  11. You left out mention of Cheney who probably had a more important and different role as VP than his predecessors. Having said that, Romney would be unlikely to want to continue that precedent for a variety of reasons. And if Obama and the Dems win in 2012 I don’t think it much matters who the Repubs put up in 2016 or 2020 anyway

    Is it really true though that a failed run as VP blights an ascending career except at the Presidential level? Bob Dole went on to become Senate Majority leader after all. Most of the others who fizzled were bit players to begin with who, so to speak, just got 15 minutes of fame (Ferrarro, Edwards etc.). Lieberman wasn’t particularly affected. Based on his MA experience with LtGov., Romney is not likely to pick someone with an independent base of support so that means Pawlenty most probably. I would particularly not want a prominent conservative because that would be used to blur the respective positions. The Beltway Repubs are not going to adopt conservative positions except by utter (external) necessity.

  12. Having said that, Romney would be unlikely to want to continue that precedent for a variety of reasons.

    What reasons?

    What structural reason is it that prevents a President from assigning a Vice President to a cabinet post, other than inertia?

  13. The Beltway Repubs are not going to adopt conservative positions except by utter (external) necessity.

    They will adopt positions. There will be no follow through, however. In part this is because of patron-client politics, in part because of anxiety about bad publicity and town meetings chock-a-block with angry geezers, and in largest part because a wretched institutional set up prevents anyone from accomplishing much of anything.

  14. True Paul, but giving interviews in flawless Spanish in radio and television interviews on Hispanic stations would still have an impact. Rubio would not need to capture the non-Cuban Hispanic vote. He would merely need to help Romney shave a few points off the Hispanic vote in states like Nevada and Colorado for his presence on the ticket to be a definite plus. Additionally, I think Rubio would appeal to second and third generation Latinos who are not necessarily bound to the Democrat party as closely as their parents. There is a significant Cuban-American population in New Jersey and I can imagine Rubio on the ticket causing Democrats to use resources to hold a state that should be a given for them.

  15. ^Logically one would think that but in reality, second and third generations are actually even more democrat than the few parents that are conservative. I suppose It’s kind of like what happened with the baby boomers after the greatest generation; any Latin generation that immigrated to this country risked it all, but their know-it-all offspring thinks that the democrats are the smart ones.
    One has also got to remember that hispanics are used to other Hispanic people governing in their own countries so there’s no novelty in that. If they dont like the guy, thats that.
    I share these opinions as part of that community.
    Now, if we were talking about a candidate for president it’s another ball game entirely.

  16. The problem with Mr. Rubio can be stated as follows:

    1. He approaches being a pure career politician. He was first elected to public office at around age 26. He did maintain a solo law practice (apparently part time) for most of a period of 14 years.

    2. He has been a pure legislator. He has never held an executive position of any kind.

    Mr. Romney falls to an assassin’s bullet or turns up with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is compelled to resign and we get a 41 year old man who has never been a line administrator and has spent the bulk of his career in the Florida legislature. I can think of more prudent selections.

  17. Art Deco,

    Good grief, what a tangent. Obviously Romney has a different personality than Bush43 who was less egocentric than most politicians or executives. It’s a strawman to refer to the lack of structural reasons and not good when the country is experiencing a shortage of straw from all the strawmen constructed by the Dems and Obama. And this idea that the process is broken and gridlock remains supreme is malarkey. Leftist ideas migrate through quite regularly. It’s only occasional citizen outrage as in the recurrent comprehensive immigration agitation that the brakes are applied for a moment.

  18. Another reason to not go with a Senator (and this applies to Portman especially) is that with a closely divided Senate, you’d hate to subject yourself to a needless special election, especially since they regularly seem to go against the party in power. Now each state is different, so I am not sure what the rules are in Ohio and Florida. I believe that Governor Scott could appoint Rubio’s replacement if he’s the guy, though perhaps there would be a special election in 2014 since the term isn’t up until 2016.

  19. From an election standpoint, the optimal combination seems to be Governor at the top for the executive experience and Senator at the bottom. The reason for the Senator is that the VP candidate gets put in the spotlight and Sena tors learn how to bloviate about topics they don’t really know anything about. Think Biden vs. Palin.

  20. I think Congressman Chris Smith as VP would make me be a lot more enthusiastic about voting for Romney.

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