Veep Thoughts

Over at Blue Oregon, Kari Chisolm’s got a list of 50 picks for Obama’s VP, and people keep piping up with names like former GOP Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), who served in the Reagan administration’s Defense Department.

Kari liked the Chaffee suggestion.

You know, that Lincoln Chaffee pick is a fascinating idea.

Why the hell are people fascinated with the idea of putting Republicans or former Republicans on a Democratic ticket? Do they really think the Democratic brand is so bankrupt that they can’t persuade people to vote for a ticket made up of two actual Democrats? Why not just nominate Joe Lieberman again? He worked out well.

Or maybe that nice bipartisan Gordon Smith.

There are reasons people self-identify as Republicans. It’s not because they believe in whatever amalgam of ideas the Democratic party has accreted to itself. People like Chaffee or Hagel could have switched to the Democratic party any time in their careers if they felt that their party wasn’t the ideal place for them to be, just like Ben Nighthorse-Campbell, Jim Jeffords, or Wayne Morse. But they didn’t. Instead, they continued to play along with the system. Scott McClellan at least had the threat of losing his job if he blew the whistle, but that’s not the case for a senator. Sure, some of them have tried to gather a patina of independence to themselves, but one of those GOP “mavericks” is running against Barack Obama right now.

If Obama is serious about effecting “change,” he’s going to require some severe modifications to the current way of doing business, and that’s going to take help from someone who isn’t just going along to get along. He needs to wrench the wheel back from the hard right turn this administration (and the Bush 41 administration, and the Reagan administration) locked it into, and that’s not going to happen with a VP who was happy with the previous system or is considerably more conservative than he is.