Posted by Brad @ 4:00 pm on August 4th 2008

Taking Bets

So, we’ve talked a lot about who McCain and Obama ought to choose as VP (Sarah Palin and Joseph Biden respectively, if you ask me). Anybody willing to pony up and try their hand at outright guessing?

I’ll give it a go.

I think right now the likeliest candidates are Evan Bayh for Obama and Eric Cantor for McCain.

For Obama, I think the best reporting on the decision he faces comes from Time’s Michael Duffy. In that conception, which I buy as being pretty close to how the Obama inside circle sees it (and Obama himself), the question is whether to double down or compensate. I.e. bring in another fresh new agent of change, or go with assuaging concerns. Clearly, my favored choice Biden would be in the latter category. A guy like Tim Kaine would be the former. Evan Bayh is about the only choice that effectively straddles both fences (as Duffy notes), and he’s been on the inside track for the job, I think, since Day One. Bonus: Obama’s making an unscheduled visit to Indiana tomorrow and Wednesday.

For McCain, Eric Cantor is a name that’s only recently gotten out to the press (though I gather he’s been one of McCain’s picks for awhile). You can read more about the line on him here. But the math is pretty simple. Young. Party loyalist. Virginian. Jewish.

A more in depth case for him can be found here.

Since I can’t really think of anyone better, in McCain’s eyes, I’m putting my money on Cantor.

What do you guys think?


  1. I think both candidates’ VP choice will be out of left and right field so to speak. Cantor is as good a guess as any, and may well be spot on. I am not prepared to venture a guess other than who I think won’t be selected. As I have said before, I will be stunned if Obama selected Biden, just as I would be stunned if McCain selects any of his former primary opponents.

    One crazy thing that I was think about a few days ago when I read that Hillary Clinton would not have her name included at the Democratic Convention candidate list (presumably to avoid her scorn brigades from causing havoc) was what if (shudder) McCain and Hillary have been quietly sitting in a tree, K.I.S.S.I….you know. I know it is as nuts as it is scary, but Hillary is closer to McCain on Iraq than Obama is and if (HUGE IF) McCain was to select Hillary as VP and she shivved Obama and went for it, tell me that wouldn’t make the big “O” look like a big hole.

    As incredibly unlikely as it sounds (and is), I just know that McCain is not afraid of rubbing shoulders with Democrats and I would put nothing past Hillary if she saw a shot at the number two spot if she knew it wasn’t forthcoming from “The One”.

    Just a little X-Files fodder to laugh at until it happens.

    Comment by James — 8/4/2008 @ 6:40 pm

  2. I read about Cantor yesterday and the way he was portrayed he did sound like a good choice. I don’t have enough prior knowledge about him to make an informed judgement but as presented, he sounds pretty good.

    Comment by Adam — 8/4/2008 @ 6:41 pm

  3. It’ll probably never happen, but I think Michael Bloomberg would be a really interesting pick for either of them. Brings buiness and mayor executive experience to the table and oozes that post-partisan vibe.

    I think it was Andrew Sullivan who mentioned that Cantor said something stupid not too long ago. But then again, who hasn’t?

    Comment by Liz — 8/4/2008 @ 7:26 pm

  4. Evan Bayh as a “fresh new agent of change?”

    My bets would be Pawlenty and Sebelius. I think that in the end, McCain’s personal loyalty is going to trump all other considerations for him. As for Sebelius, I can’t think of any reason she would have made it this far through Obama’s process if she wasn’t going to end up with the nod…all of the reasons NOT to choose her would have knocked her off the list already if they were going to knock her off at all.

    That Clinton thing is intriguing as hell, though.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/4/2008 @ 7:28 pm

  5. She wants McCain to win, but not with her on the ticket.

    Cantor’s stupid thing was this, and for my money it’s a lot worse than just saying something stupid. I’m sort of waiting for daveg to come in and make this point, but as I think we ran him off with our non-anti-multi-culturalism, I’ll have to do it for him: the kind of attack Cantor made in that quote above isn’t a black mark, it’s precisely what he would be selected for, his chief recommending feature. He’s flagrantly pro-Israel, a Republican Jew, and if McCain picks him, he will be expected to fill that role not subtly, but with aplomb. It both raises McCain’s neocon case, makes an attack against Obama that McCain really can’t, plays on minority wedge issues (if Cantor were the nominee, they have an automatic in again on the whole “black militant” angle; you better believe they’d parlay every bit whatever American Jew / African American tension they could get), and of course is a demographic that would help him a lot in Florida, PA, a few other places.

    In fact, it’s the potential negative angle of Cantor that has me thinking he might be the most likely.

    Rojas: Yeah, Sebelius is the one I kind of suspect will get it, but I hate when people I know are successful.

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 7:35 pm

  6. Oh, and one final thing on Bayh vs. Sebelius, and why I think it might tilt Bayh:

    With Bayh, Hillary supporters are effectively shut up. With Sebelius, or any other female candidate not named Clinton, the risk of some blowback is there. It would surely be more smoke than fire, but coming from that crowd, there might be a hell of a lot of smoke, and I’d have to guess Obama’d just prefer to be done with it.

    Ironic, yet again, that the feminists are pushing back the cause of all women in favor of one woman. Progress!

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 8:02 pm

  7. It both raises McCainís neocon case…

    I don’t think that there’s any neocon constituency to speak of. There’s a big constituency for what be called a “muscular approach” to foreign relations, but the neocon niche is even smaller than it was and it’s pretty discredited.

    As for the woman thing, I personally that discounting how a lot of female voters felt about Clinton’s campaign and not taking it seriously (on an intellectual level, rather than merely on a political one) would be the biggest mistake Obama could actually make, from where he is. I suspect that he won’t make it, though. It’s not about ‘team woman’ only being represented by Clinton, it’s about Clinton running on a feminist platform (whether or not you agree that she actually occupied feminist positions) and Sebelius and McCaskill, etc, not (and probably wisely, for their political futures).

    Just anecdotal, but I have a friend that’s a big Obama supporter and did some calling for him and she was taken aback at how strongly the Clinton supporters supported her and how sensitive they were about disparagement, or the perception of disaparagement, by camp Obama. Could be a big deal if not played carefully (but I expect that it will be played carefully).

    Comment by Adam — 8/4/2008 @ 8:16 pm

  8. Cantor’s comments were more than stupid, you’re right; didn’t get a chance to read the comment at the time, just knew something was out there.

    As a feminist who never supported Clinton: I think I’ve mentioned the movement war between 2nd and 3rd wave feminists here before with Clinton as the catalyst. Picking Sebelius wouldn’t offend most women and wouldn’t piss off the 3rd wave feminists. The feminists it would offend are LOUD and influential and play hardball. Tough to tell if they’re a big enough crowd to make a difference, although I lean toward not.

    Comment by Liz — 8/4/2008 @ 9:09 pm

  9. But that’s the thing, they are loud, and I’m not sure, if I’m Obama, that giving them oxygen is what I’d want. A Sebelius, for example, instantly gets Ferraro and company back to constant booking, and the ever-present question it would beg is “Why not Hillary”?

    Ironically, maybe the best way of playing it carefully is to just not go there at all. Not picking a woman might be just the trick.


    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 9:59 pm

  10. The answer to ‘Why not Hillary’ is pretty obvious from Obama’s point of view, but the other part of the question is ‘why not a feminist?’ and of those, Hillary’s the only one with a reasonably high profile (having run for the nomination as one…), I would say. You can’t chuck them a woman and expect them to be quiet because it’s a woman.

    Comment by Adam — 8/4/2008 @ 10:10 pm

  11. God, that’s depressing.

    Comment by Liz — 8/4/2008 @ 10:10 pm

  12. Also, I don’t think that Cantor’s thing will be a big deal, unless Obama cares to risk taking a page from McCain’s book and accuses Cantor of playing the Jew Card. Somehow, McCain’s accusation sort of had some of the desired effect, but I don’t think that Obama’s going to go there; indeed, attempting to rebut Cantor’s nonsense might open him up to more of the same, for Great Lose.

    Comment by Adam — 8/4/2008 @ 10:12 pm

  13. And the other big issue with Clinton is that she is the woman Obama beat for the nomination, who had a hell of a lot of support despite losing. she is the one they bought into. If he does pick another woman, it’d sure as hell better not look like he’s trying to pick a woman to buy them off (and making the case that it isn’t would be a damn minefield). As you say, he may have to not pick a woman on account of it, but I don’t think that it’s a step back for the feminists unless you hold that their agenda is “a woman, any woman” (and I suspect that their agenda is “the best feminist for the job and that it Hillary Clinton”, as they see it; Hillary’s feminist credentials are beyond my expertise to analyse).

    Comment by Adam — 8/4/2008 @ 10:16 pm

  14. Sebelius isn’t a feminist?

    Comment by Rojas — 8/4/2008 @ 10:57 pm

  15. Also, I donít think that Cantorís thing will be a big deal, unless Obama cares to risk taking a page from McCainís book and accuses Cantor of playing the Jew Card. Somehow, McCainís accusation sort of had some of the desired effect, but I donít think that Obamaís going to go there; indeed, attempting to rebut Cantorís nonsense might open him up to more of the same, for Great Lose.

    I should think that at issue would be what Cantor might accuse Obama of.

    We’re of more or less the same mind on the Clinton thing. I think they’ll fall inline, but if I were Obama, I sure wouldn’t want to risk prodding them any. To my mind, pretty much the last hurdle he hast to clear in that regard is the VP pick. The more I think about it, the more that would lean me towards picking a Clinton-supporting man (Bayh) over an early Obama-supporting woman (Sebelius).

    Sorry Liz. It is pretty depressing when you think about it. Identity politics eats itself.

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 10:58 pm

  16. Sebelius isnít a feminist?

    She supported Obama, so clearly not.

    What’s the feminist equivalent of an Uncle Tom?

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  17. I’m going to go with Peg Bundy.

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 11:00 pm

  18. Booman, on Bayh:

    From a strictly ideological point of view, Evan Bayh represents the Clintons by proxy among members of the known short-list. He’s the only person under serious consideration that endorsed Clinton during the campaign. He’s a former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. There’s a very good chance that Bayh would staff up the Naval Observatory with a bunch of also-rans and cast-offs from the Clinton campaign, giving them new life and hope for a role in a future presidency. For Team Clinton, Evan Bayh represents their best hope for jobs and significance in an Obama administration. These attacks on Obama are sending a clear message that they can make trouble for Obama if he shuts them out. As I see it, this is not really a lobbying campaign for Hillary, who they all know is persona non grata in the Obama household. It’s an oblique campaign for Bayh.

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 11:04 pm

  19. I don’t know why Obama wants to give those people any–ANY–jurisdiction over his campaign strategy. Nor do I see the slightest possibility that their argument–“Selecting a woman as VP is an anti-feminist gesture unless it’s our favorite woman”–can gain ANY traction among anyone other than themselves.

    Again, if this was the sort of rationale that would deny Sebelius the selection, why would he deliberately provoke the pro-Hillary crowd by choosing to leak to the press that Sebelius is on his short list? What would be the point of even publicly considering her if that consideration was thought to do more harm than good?

    Comment by Rojas — 8/4/2008 @ 11:05 pm

  20. But isn’t a significant force behind Sebelius as VP the woman thing, borne of the primary dynamic he inherited? Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s strong enough that she would have made anyone’s shortlist this year, but I also think she’s got to be running stronger this year than had the Democratic race come down to, say, Obama and Edwards.

    If Obama wants Sebelius, he’ll select her. But if it’s really down to the wire and he’s weighing political considerations, I don’t think he can brush this sort of thing off either (though my tendency, like yours, and perhaps his, would be to say “tell hell with them”). I don’t know that the “no woman but Hillary” crowd are themselves a significant voting contingent, but I think they can make a hell of a lot of noise, and a VP selection that touches off a feminist slash Clintonian bruhaha is not something he needs.

    I also don’t know that whatever tempest it has the potential to set off could outweigh the general goodwill of having picked a woman, and in fact I somehow doubt it, but I do think that the Clintonistas are serious about making some kind of stupid, futile stand on this. It’s entirely bypassed by not picking a woman (again—say it with me—ironically).

    Comment by Brad — 8/4/2008 @ 11:42 pm

  21. Rojas is absolutely right. Obama can, obviously, pick whomever he wants, but there is a serious problem with him if he doesn’t pick Sebelius merely because the pro-Hillary nut-jobs might be offended. Not that we’d ever hear the real reasoning behind his selection.

    Most feminists are not going to see a woman veep candidate as an anti-feminist choice. It doesn’t matter what the Hillary loyalists portray themselves as, they do not represent the end-all be-all of feminism.

    Comment by Liz — 8/4/2008 @ 11:55 pm

  22. She wants McCain to win, but not with her on the ticket.

    Just out of curiosity, why? McCain (if he manages to stop “Neo”) is a one term president. Who will be the natural successor who can sing “Both Sides Now” in 2012?

    I’m just sayin’.

    Comment by James — 8/5/2008 @ 1:40 am

  23. Is there any other opportunity for her to be President?

    Comment by Brad — 8/5/2008 @ 1:46 am

  24. In my opinion, no.

    Comment by James — 8/5/2008 @ 2:06 am

  25. And just to make it interesting, when was the last time you saw Hillary?

    Comment by James — 8/5/2008 @ 2:09 am

  26. Sebelius isnít a feminist?

    Has she run that way, tried to rally people to that? One can debate whether or not Hillary just came to feminism late — I’m totally unqualified to judge that matter and that’s an understatement — but she certainly ran on it pretty hard.

    As I say, it’s not my field of expertise and I’m in part reacting to anecdotal evidence as to how strongly some of the Hillary supporters actually feel. We’ll see, though; Obama must have a pretty good idea, by now, of the electoral risk vs. reward for all of the candidates.

    Comment by Adam — 8/5/2008 @ 7:34 am

  27. Kathleen Sebelius has pretty consistently governed in such a way as to promote legal equality for women, both in terms of the workplace and in terms of control over their bodies.

    There are, of course, many types of feminists, but I don’t know how one would make the case that Hillary is MORE feminist than Kathleen Sebelius just because she talks about it more.

    Clinton’s angle, after all, has consistently been that she’s surrounded by eighty-five year old women who want to see a woman as President before they die. If that’s feminism, then one must ask, does Kathleen Sebelius’ presence on the ticket make such an outcome more or less likely?

    The more I think about it, the more I think that the kind of “noise” Barack Obama might encounter here might be beneficial to his campaign, in a Sistah Souljah-Jesse Jackson kind of way.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/5/2008 @ 11:42 am

  28. And just to make it interesting, when was the last time you saw Hillary?

    I’ve been thinking that too. But it sounds like she might be increasing her visibility a bit before the convention.

    Chicago, IL–The Obama campaign today announced that Senator Hillary Clinton will campaign for Senator Obama in Nevada and Florida later this month. Senator Clinton will host Campaign for Change rallies and voter registration events in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday, August 8th and in South Florida on Thursday, August 21st.

    Comment by Brad — 8/5/2008 @ 6:09 pm

  29. On the other stuff: I am not making any independent claims on Sebelius or Clinton for that matter on their “feminist” cred. In truth, I consider Clinton to be almost the anti-feminist. One can, should, and probably already have made that case.

    However, as Adam points out, she is the most high profile woman in politics (by a country mile), and did garner about 49% of the Democratic electorate (one of the very few actually competitive primary challengers; most never get anywhere near that close, and just look like real threats because the media builds them up to be more credible than they actually are). She also controls a helluva lot of Democratic machinery, that can either get big behind Obama, or more or less sit this one out (they will vote for him regardless, I think, but the differences between a Bayh and a Sebelius in terms of getting them to work for you are significant and real).

    As far as Hillary’s “I am the Feminist God” thing, of course that is massively overstated, but it’s there just the same (as a media and Clintonista concoction). I do not think even that Hillary’s people being upset with a Sebelius would be outweighed by a Sebelius pleasing women voters, but I think two things: 1. Obama will get women regardless, he doesn’t have the need to “win them over” that the Clintonistas are portraying (which, again, works in some ways AGAINST any woman on the ticket), and 2. While overstated in terms of a voting demographic, the Clintonistas are a very real threat in the media oxygen realm. They can, and are now telegraphing that they will, raise a stink, and it’s hard to say what effect that will have, save that it will certainly provide at least a temporary sideshow and one blowback narrative to his VP pick (should it be a non-Clinton woman). I think that both McCain and Obama would be disinclined to make a pick that they thought would raise some heat.

    Remember again: Obama doesn’t have to pick a woman. There is no objective reason why a Sebelius VP pick would be any better for him than a Bayh (or a Biden, or a Kaine, or whatever). So if it’s a neutral choice, the added headache of having to deal with Clintonistas raising a fuss could be enough to sway him off of even having to deal with that (when another pick might neutralize the whole thing entirely). If Obama thought that a Sebelius pick would be objectively better than any of the other choices, he’ll pick her. But if it comes down to a question of playing politics (and let’s face it, that’s in large measure what VP picks are supposed to be), I think the Clintonista threat will at least give him pause (and the blame for that lies on the Clintonistas, incidentally, not on Obama). You better believe this exact conversation is going on right now (or has already) in the VP War Room, is all I’m saying.

    Comment by Brad — 8/5/2008 @ 6:23 pm

  30. This guy lays out the argument that Bayh will be the nominee (not necessarily that he should be, but by way of making a prediction). It’s a lot more comprehensive than what I’ve said, but pretty much identical to why I’m thinking it’s likely to be Bayh as well.

    Comment by Brad — 8/5/2008 @ 7:32 pm

  31. Kathleen Sebelius has pretty consistently governed in such a way as to promote legal equality for women, both in terms of the workplace and in terms of control over their bodies.

    My word, she must be a Democrat.

    I never heard about Clinton and specifically feminist credentials before this election — which is not to say she didn’t have them, or that she did, just that I didn’t know — but she ran hard that way and I think that she won them over, the people (particularly women) that really care about that or discovered that they care about that over the course of the primary. However, my point really is that it would be potentially hard to pick Sebelius and then explain to the Clinton supporters that it’s not a “we gave you a woman, just not Hillary” so as to not make it look like it was about the woman rather than the positions on, and empathy for, women’s issues. Of course, Obama can pick Sebelius and just not mention the whole thing or refuse to talk about it, but in that case the argument may arise on its own.

    Comment by Adam — 8/5/2008 @ 7:48 pm

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