Why would anyone want to be the vice president? John Nance Garner, vice president under FDR from 1933 to 1941, in answer to that question said famously that the office was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” That last word in the quote is accurate, having morphed over the years to the politically correct “spit.” Garner’s cranky estimation aside, for the 2012 presidential election, the Republicans need someone who is first of all ready to take over the job of president if needed. Secondly, to win this thing in 2012, he or she needs to be recognized by the voters. You can’t have the majority of the electorate saying: “Who the hell is that?” Although, there have been vice presidential candidates who were unknown when named (Harry Truman being one). Dan Quayle comes instantly to mind as someone that everyone asked: “Where did he come from?” Unfortunately, we’re still asking that question about Dan.
Third on the list is an oft used word in D.C. called gravitas, meaning seriousness and from the Latin meaning heavy. The candidate must have some weight when it comes to reputation and to values. He or she can’t be silly or stupid or out where the buses don’t run (are you listening Joe Biden?). Fourth is a record of accomplishment. He or she can’t check present and go out campaigning or playing golf (sound familiar?). Last, but not least in this age of form over substance and image over reality, is that often abused word charisma. The voters have to cotton to him or her, feel warm and fuzzy about the individual, have confidence that whoever it is can do the job and look and sound good on the campaign trail. The media likes that last one about looking and sounding good. Regular folks know how to spot a phony a mile off (you ain’t fooling anyone Joe) even when you look good (you lose on both counts Joe).
Campaigns like to send up trial balloons of potential vice presidential candidates just to see how the media reacts. In the Republican case in this election campaign, they could send up Jesus Christ as the potential pick and all the media would pick Him apart. To most of the media, if he’s a Republican, he’s no good. But he’s Jesus Christ! Doesn’t matter. All Republicans are evil.
The Republicans started this process, sending out trial balloons on Marco Rubio, Condi Rice, and Paul Ryan. Of course, MSNBC (oh, excuse me, there’s no MS these days) hated all of them. The GOP’s latest candidate du jour is Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor. At the risk of sounding like the alliterating Jesse Jackson, Tim Pawlenty is a non-entity. Nobody knows about the guy. What’s worse is that nobody cares about him. He has about as much charisma as a wet mop whenever he speaks. If it would be a Romney/Pawlenty ticket, it would be the bland leading the blander. Now, I’m sure Tim is a real nice guy. And I’m sure that in his salad days he had one too many and sang at a party with a lampshade on his head. But the fact is that he looks like he never did that and that he never would. There’s a great song by John Kander and Fred Ebb from their musical Chicago called “Mr. Cellophane.” Part of the song goes like this: “Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane, should have been my name, Mr. Cellophane, ‘cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I’m there…” Whenever, I see Tim Pawlenty, I hear that song in the background.
Whoever becomes the Republican vice presidential candidate will have to go up against Amtrak Joe Biden (got the nickname because he gave away the store to the Amtrak unions when he was in the Senate). Joe has been the attack dog for the Democrats, if by attack dog you mean a snippy, stupid Chihuahua. He’s more like that old, crazy uncle that in the 19th century lived in the attic and was only let out when the kids needed amusement (there were no iPads or iPods). Joe may be ridiculous, but he can also be dangerous because he has most of the media on his side. They just love Joe, especially when he says things like FDR was on TV. Anything the guy says is given a pass. So, the Republican better be able to talk directly to the people and beat Joe intellectually (not that hard to do) on the issues without falling into the emotional drama and outright lies trap that Joe will try to spring on the Republican candidate and the American people. The candidate is going to have to counter the Biden lie machine at every turn no matter how foolish the lie is because you just know that George Stephanopoulos and Brian Williams will swoon over Joe’s idiocy.
That Republican candidate should be Marco Rubio. Rubio made mincemeat out of John Kerry in a Senate debate on the debt crisis on the Senate floor on July 30, 2011. If he can out-duel the Boston Brahmin in the Senate, Amtrak Joe will be a snap. He is one of the few potential candidates who is ready to take over the job of president if need be (he actually conducted business in the Senate rather than a Senator and candidate for president in 2008), he is recognizable by the people (sorry, John Thune and Rob Portman), he’s not too wonky (Paul Ryan makes your eyes recede when he talks budget), he has gravitas (Marco’s values and reputation are solid, not just in the Latino community), he has a record of accomplishment as Speaker of the House in the Florida legislature and as a freshman Senator in D.C., and he has charisma (he’s not a lightning rod like Condi Rice or Sarah Palin). In short, he has what it takes to take on Obama’s campaign storm troopers and the disingenuous media. Anyone but Marco Rubio will most likely be a disaster for the Republican campaign. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a conservative and that he’ll deliver Florida?