What would be the boldest vice presidential choice John McCain and Barack Obama could make? (Updated)

In this photo provided by CBS, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., listens to Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., left, on CBS\'s \The gang behind Newsweek‘s Ruckus blog is asking its contributors to answer the following question: “What would be the boldest vice presidential choice John McCain and Barack Obama could make?”

If we leave aside the silly and absurd, for McCain, the answer seems obvious:  Joe Lieberman.

This would double down on his foreign policy experience as well as reinforcing his cultivated image as a maverick who’s not bound by party lines.  It would reach out to moderates, strengthen his appeal to Jewish voters, and conceivably pull in some Hillary Clinton dead-enders and DLC Democrats.   It would also risk further alienating conservatives, which probably means he won’t do it.

For Obama, I’ll go in a similar direction:  Chuck Hagel or Colin Powell.

Picking a moderate Republican with serious foreign policy credentials would seriously undercut McCain’s chief argument, that Obama is too unseasoned to be commander-in-chief.  Powell would be especially intriguing in that you’d have two African Americans, neither of whom have familial ties to the traditional civil rights/legacy of slavery heritage of the community.  That might be more risk than Obama can bear, however, and I rather doubt Powell would take the offer.  Hagel, though, just might.

Update (Dave Schuler)

Right picks, wrong tickets.

First off, Sen. Obama doesn’t need to make a “bold choice” and IMO would be imprudent if he did. His candidacy is already a bold choice. What he needs to do is make a choice that’s viewed as safe by moderates and independents. Who better for that than Joe Lieberman? Yes, it would aggravate the progressive wing of his own party And that would be bad how?

Sen. McCain could do a lot worse than talking Colin Powell into being his running mate. Downside: he’s too old. That overrules him as a running mate for Sen. Obama, too. I think McCain really needs to pick a woman as a running mate.

Photo credit: AP Photo/CBS Face the Nation, Karin Cooper

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Eric J says:

    As far as I can tell, there’s no Constitutional bar to Bill Clinton being elected Vice President, or serving as President should Obama (or McCain) die or leave office.

  2. DL says:

    Lieberman would sink him. This is an out and out partial-birth abortion supporter and a fierce advocate of global warming. Joe is an Orthodox Jew who supports Israel before his liberalism. Don’t confuse the two issues, because it’s nice to see a Dem fight his own. He’s not a Zell Miller.
    Principled? You need to go back and watch how quicky without conscience he willingly dumped all his principles when Al Gore chose him as VP.

    Joe just plays Pontius Pilate better than most, agonizing over all controversial issues then coming down liberal.

  3. Eric,

    I think that the question was about “bold” choices, not “insane” ones. 😉

  4. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “What would be the boldest vice presidential choice John McCain and Barack Obama could make?”

    For McCain it would be Hillary Clinton. (Think about it before you laugh it off).

    For Obama it would have to be someone who would not upstage him in any serious way on anything important such as economics or foreign policy so I would say someone like Bruce Springstein.

  5. Triumph says:

    Picking a moderate Republican with serious foreign policy credentials would seriously undercut McCain’s chief argument, that Obama is too unseasoned to be commander-in-chief. Powell would be especially intriguing in that you’d have two African Americans, neither of whom have familial ties to the traditional civil rights/legacy of slavery heritage of the community.

    Powell has “serious foreign policy credentials”?? Give me a break.

    Sure, he held the job of Sec. of State, but his record was abysmal. His prevarications at the UN alone in the buildup to the Iraq invasion are enough to disqualify him for a VP position.

    Given the fact that Hussein wants to highlight his differences from Bush, picking one of the most prominent proponents and architects of Bush’s foreign policy disasters would be stupid.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    I can think of two times (post 12th Amendment) that a President crossed party lines to select a VP from the opposing party. William Henry Harrison selected John Tyler, a disgruntled Democrat, and then died leaving his party in disarray. “His accidency” was subject of the first impeachment attempt. Abraham Lincoln selected Andrew Johnson, to little better result.

    I don’t think crossing party lines is a bold move, its a bad move.

  7. Hal says:

    I don’t think crossing party lines is a bold move, its a bad move

    “It’s a pig that looks like a locomotive and tastes like flowers!”

    It’s hard to imagine this being “bold” when all the Washington media would swoon seeing the embodiment of centrism on a ticket. “bold” would be doing something counter to conventional wisdom which actually makes sense. Choosing someone from the other party would be right in line with conventional wisdom and wouldn’t make any sense what so ever.

    Still, I want Lieberman on McCain’s ticket. Having the whiner twins running would be nirvana. Watching them continuously wag their fingers in a non stop scold-a-thon would be like walking on a cloud of fresh pork.

  8. Floyd says:

    McCain could do a random national lottery to get his running mate. That would be both bold and irrelevant, since he is running against a vapid rock-star[an apt oxymoron].
    The contest this fall is between Obama’s image and Obama’s motives.
    Will Americans prove smart enough to see “the man behind the curtain”??
    The fate of a nation depends on it.

  9. Hal says:

    Will Americans prove smart enough to see “the man behind the curtain”??

    Yes, I’m waiting for the unleashing of McCain’s Flying Monkeys.

    Surrender Obama written in the air with the smoke from his broom.

  10. James Joyner says:

    As far as I can tell, there’s no Constitutional bar to Bill Clinton being elected Vice President, or serving as President should Obama (or McCain) die or leave office.

    The Constitution requires that VPs be qualified to serve as president. Bill Clinton isn’t, owing to having served eight years already.

  11. Michael says:

    Bold would be if McCain picked Obama, and Obama picked McCain. Then you’re just voting based on who is at the top of the ticket.

  12. Floyd says:

    Hal,
    Let’s face it, Obama only stands a chance because a political storm dropped a house on Hillary![lol] leaving the democrats with no choice but to follow the “goldbrick” road and support the big “O”. Perhaps only to see him disappear over the horizon when the going gets rough,supported by his “bag of hot air” campaign!
    Of course it still comes down to whether the electorate has the heart, courage and brains to do the right thing and vote for McCain!

  13. anjin-san says:

    Let’s face it, Obama only stands a chance because a political storm dropped a house on Hillary!

    Ah, Floyd? Obama was the storm…

    As for Hagel, he was my first choice for president, so having him on the ticket sounds good to me…

  14. DA says:

    The Constitution requires that VPs be qualified to serve as president. Bill Clinton isn’t, owing to having served eight years already.

    I don’t know if it’s so clear. The 22nd amendment blocks Clinton from being elected president again. The 12th amendment says “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.” Eligible to *what* the office? Hold the office? Be elected to the office?

    Of course, Bill Clinton won’t be (and shouldn’t be) chosen, so this is academic.

  15. Sam says:

    Please don’t let him pick Romney. Romney is a slimmy back stabber. I fear that something would happen to Sen. McCain so Romney could be pres.

  16. Floyd says:

    Ah, Floyd? Obama was the storm…

    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    No question, a force composed of conflicting fronts, with great sound a fury, signfying nothing and leaving nothing, “in Toto”, but destruction in it’s path!
    “HAIL FROM THE CHIEF??”

  17. Hal says:

    Let’s face it, Obama only stands a chance because a political storm dropped a house on Hillary!

    IIRC, the democratic primary literally went down to the wire. The result of the race was literally neck and neck with a small lead for Obama. Hardly what I would call a political storm dropping a house on her. Rather it was an incredibly tough political fight that seemed to last forever…

    On the other hand…

    You have John McCain whose campaign was literally given up for dead and had a zombie resurrection because the social cons wanted Hagee, the fiscal cons wanted Romney and the wacko cons wanted Giuliani. And because of the “winner takes all” rules in the majority of the GOP primaries, McCain could still win with only a plurality of the votes – not a majority.

    So, who’s the nominee by having a house dropped on their opponent? I’d say it’s McCain.

    Still, I think I’ll do an animation of McCain flying around on the broom and unleashing his flying monkeys just because it makes me giggle to think about it.

    “You and your little dog, too!”

    I can just see him cackling as he screams that.

  18. Senator McCain would like to pick Gov. Schwarzenegger, but since that can’t happen he’ll go with what perceives as a bold choice in Gov. Palin. In a more perfect world, he’d consider Jim Talent.

    Senator Obama will pick someone who can bask comfortablly in the glow that emanates from his persona, someone who will not threaten to promote substance over style. Given that he is 1) so far from the mainstream, 2) owes the establishment nothing, and 3) is convinced that it is in the bag, I expect him to reach way outside the top thirty or forty candidates and do something totally unexpected. Senator Obama doesn’t need anyone to fill the ticket other than in a perfunctory manner just because someone has to be there. I don’t know enough about his past to guess who he might pick, but like I said, I’ll bet it comes out of, ahem, left field.

  19. I’d have thought the answer was obvious. The boldest choice they could make:

    McCain picks Obama

    Obama picks McCain

  20. Oh, snap. And here I was thinking nothing could convince me to vote for McCain… but this might actually make it a hard decision.

    Lieberman could still never get me to vote for a Clinton, though.

  21. Sarg says:

    In my humble opinion I think McCain should pick Condi Rice she would have the woman and the black vote not to mention she has the foreign affairs thing down. As far as Obammy he should pick himself after all he is the all knowing all seeing maker of destiny isn’t he?