OPINION/POLITICS

Let The Veepstakes Begin

Now that Sen. Barack Obama and John McCain are the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, the nation’s attention along with every political pundit and blogger is now focused on who they will select as their respective running mates.

I have decided to come up with my own short list of nominees, beginning with McCain who simply scares me. We have already had one President with Alzheimer’s; we neither deserve nor need another one. We especially don’t need one who has had his share of what Fox News calls “senior moments,” and seems intent on trying to provoke a war with Iran.

McCain is a war hero and I sincerely appreciate his sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean he gets my vote. His time as a P.O.W. is actually scary and may show some insight to his well known hot temperament. Think about it. If regular soldiers suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome, what kind of psychological damage is done after a soldier is shot down and tortured? This scenario was actually the basis of a book and the movie “The Manchurian Candidate,” the plot of which resolves around a P.O.W. being tortured by the Chinese, turned into a political assassin via brainwashing and released back to the United States.

Like I said, I respect and appreciate McCain’s sacrifice for all of us, but do we really want him and his temper to be one push of a button away from starting a nuclear war? This is why I believe his choice of V.P. is even more critical. Former Governor of Massachusetts and business man Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty appear to be the front runners. Let’s start with Romney, who has been the most effective Obama critic. He’s strong on economic issues and is capable of helping to raise money for the race.

Romney also brings a downside to the ticket, what McCain has spent an entire career avoiding: political expediency. McCain’s stock-in-trade has been straight talk. Romney has not only changed his positions on specific issues-he’s pretty quickly changed his entire persona, from a moderate conservative governor to a far-right presidential contender. He is the king of flip floppers in this race.

Pawlenty is lesser known, but has an established relationship with McCain and has been a visible surrogate for him on the political talk shows. He’s spoken powerfully about changing the Republican Party and would help in those key states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But nothing suggests at this point that Pawlenty could actually deliver those states, so look for Mc Cain to go with Romney for his economic strengths.

Obama on the other hand has a wider selection of V.P options to choose from. His recent trip abroad shows that he has tremendous popularity overseas. He probably could have selected rapper Ludacris and got away with it. But seriously, I believe it’s down to four: Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius is a woman who Obama is close to and respects. She has been looked at closely as the alternative to Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s attitude and negative campaigning all but assured that she had no chance on being on the ticket despite what the Obama camp says. Biden has the foreign policy credentials and experience that Obama lacks, but he is known for being loose cannon and may not stick to the Obama script. He is a long time Washington insider, which doesn’t match with Obama’s message of change. Gov. Tim Kaine is a Washington outsider, which would make him a good fit with the Democrat’s core campaign mantra of change. But, he also lacks foreign policy experience, the common knock against Obama. Additionally, he has only been in office for three years and is not known nationally. Americans wants change, but not enough to elect two people they just met. Obama is going to be change enough.

Which bring me to Sen. Bayh. He has enough experience, but isn’t a long time D.C. insider. He is well liked in the state of Indiana and could help make Indiana a blue state for Democrats. He could also help with votes in the surrounding Midwest states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Bayh also has this picture perfect family which combined with the Obama’s makes for a very compelling and interesting family campaign of change.

Who ever is selected by both candidates is going to have to be prepared. There are one heart beat away from leading the country. I hope both men make the right choice.

Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.


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