Thursday, February 07, 2008

John McCain's Important Choice

Simon Heffer has a tour de force in today's Telegraph on the American elections. Mr H has been in DC too this week. We wanted to do a US episode of CONFRONTING HEFFER but the logistics didn't work. This sentence on John McCain's choice of running mate stood out from his article...

His choice of running mate will be key: but those who think it might be Mr Huckabee underestimate, I think, Mr McCain’s innate caution. When you take office at the age of 72, your vice-president is more than an academic exercise.
This latter point is very true. One thing we can be sure of is that McCain won't emulate Bush 1 and go for someone like Dan Quayle. He will be looking for someone who is more than capable of taking over should the worst happen. Mind you, looking at his sprightly 96 year old mother, I'm not sure how likely that is.

McCain will be looking for geographic balance and is sure to pick someone very acceptable to those of a more conservative disposition. Not many names come readily to mind, but I think Simon Heffer is right to rule out Mike Huckabee from McCain's equation. At least I hope he is.

Another man to rulke out is Mitt Romney. There is little love lost between Romney and McCain. I suspect Romney is giving serious consideration to pulling out. If he does, he will be looking towards 2012 in the hope that McCain loses to a Democrat in November. If that is the case he needs to discover some convictions, rather than pander to what he thinks people want to hear. He just doesn't connect with people in the way he thinks he does. I put it down to the hair...


verity said...

Re Simon Heffer, who writes rather feverishly: America has much to be defensive about these days. It is unpopular in the world, and it knows it. Its President – who goes unmentioned in the campaign for the White House, as if he had never existed – is a man many here find hard to respect, not least because they are aware how much contempt and ridicule he is held in around the world.

Does Mr Heffer have the faintest notion of what blanket lack of inerest covers the United States regarding the opinions of Yoorup and "the world" and one Simon Heffer?

Sniffyness and an inexplicable sense of superiority aside, what on earth does Mr Heffer think Britain, a county crashing legally and civilly, has to offer the United States in the way of advice? About anything?

Geoff said...

It's a great shame that ex-Gov Jeb Bush in Florida has the wrong surname, because as Jeb Smith or Jones he would have been a brilliant POTUS / VPOTUS candidate.

McCain will (in my uneducated opinion) offer the Veep job to Huckabee and he will drop out soon.

Although it wouldn't balance the ticket - if he wanted a leftist Republican female running mate in his own mould then he might look to Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. Iain you are right though, the ticket would need to be balanced.

McCain is not the sort of person we conservatives should hope for as US President but he is streets ahead of Billary or the guy who looks like that golf player.

Verity (and I'm asking this in a 100% positive way) who should be your ideal conservative dream ticket?

Yak40 said...

verity, agreed.
Do you think the Grauniad will try another letter writing campaign this year ?

Also Iain, the idea of "balance" on a presidential ticket is not as big an issue as it used to be.

Lieberman seems to be around McCain a lot I've noticed ...


canvas said...

A Democrat will be the next President - so McCain needn't worry too much.

McCain wants to continue the 'war' and 'win' it. How out of touch is that view? Plus McCain's wife is a liability.

Romney is a joke - as is Huckabee.

It's Obama or Clinton - maybe both.

Go Obama!

onlooker said...

If McCian gets up Ann Coulter's nose, he's OK with me

asquith said...

verity, I don't believe there's much interest in what you write here, or that you have much of worth to contribute, but it's never stopped you.

Anonymous said...

Sprightly is an understatement - I half expect that if Mr McCain doesn't win the nomination she will be putting herself forward as a candidate in 2012 !

Anonymous said...

McCain is unfit to be President. His record is one of a bloodthirsty warmonger. His election to the Presidency would lead to more wars, and be a disaster for the US and the world. In 1999, during the bombing of Serbia, John McCain advocated “massive, strategic and sustained” attacks, “no infrastructure targets should have been off limits”—factories, water plants, hospitals, schools, markets, whatever. Yes, he added, “we all grieve over civilian casualties as well as our own losses,” but “they are unavoidable.” As is, this war, against a nation that never threatened the US, cost 3000 civilian lives. Had McCain prevailed, countless more would have been killed. It is unlikely that I would have met my wife, who was working as a doctor in the ER Department of a Belgrade hospital at the time. She would have been part of McCain’s “unavoidable” collateral damage. Now he is one of the main apologists for the Iraq disaster, and thinks that singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann” is amusing. Russia, he claims, is a “rogue state” that “threatens our values.” Would President McCain launch a campaign for “regime change” in Moscow?

Jimbo said...

So McCain biggest advantage is the fact that he is a Vietnam Vet and war hero serving in the USA Air Corp. ( Salute Now, yes sir, yes sir !!!! )

Here’s a couple of questions I’d like to ask the war hero.

How brave do you need to be to drop napalm bombs from 20000 feet on Vietnamese villages, killing a multitude of innocents.

So McCain, in your tours of duty, can you estimate how many Vietnamese children you killed or maimed.

During your time in the war, that you LOST, did know that napalm and Agent Orange bombs that you dropped were illegal weapons of war.

War Hero errrrrrrrrrr War Criminal

I think i know best said...

For what it is worth i think he will choose someone that can win in the South and appeal to the conservative base....and that someone could well be Condi Rice, a black woman, now that would make an inetresting fight against a Clinton - Obama ticket....

Paddy Briggs said...

"If McCain, 70, runs and wins, he would be the oldest person ever inaugurated as president. As is evident from the scar on the left side of his face, he has had malignant melanoma, the most invasive and dangerous form of skin cancer."

McCain could be choosing a President. He better make a smart choice. Certainly not Huckabee!

iCowboy said...

McCain would be mad to have Huckabee as a running mate. It might play well down South but the lat thing America needs is another senior politician who thinks the answers lie in the nastier parts of the Bible and that the whole scientific revolution of the 19th Century never happened.

Huckabee *might* help cement the core Republican vote, but he'd be an easy target for the Democrats and just to drive away undecided voters. At the end of the day he plays well in the South and with Chuck Norris fans, but scores pretty much zero elsewhere.

What the Republicans need is a figure of Obama's age to show their party actually has a future. If they can get someone who isn't totally wrapped up in the NeoCon, Christian fundamentalist mindset all the better. The American people have finally woken up to the bankruptcy of policies invented in the late 1970s and want something new.

I spent part of last year in the American west and was stunned by the real hatred for the current crop of Republicans in places like Montana, Arizona and Wyoming. In short, despite his love of jeans and boots and stetsons, Dubya had lost the cowboy vote. Montana turned blue last year in Congressional elections - big state, not many people, not many hurt - but the Republican core vote is disillusioned.

lettersfromatory said...

I posted yesterday about the health concerns that McCain has been dogged by for many years.

I'm not sure what the American public make of him, but his choice of running mate becomes even more critical when you bear in mind that he had life-threatening cancer a few years ago.

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

When I was recently in the States, I saw an interview with Romney in which his economic question as Governor of Massachusetts was under ths spotlight.

It became increasingly clear that he didn't have a clue about what to do about the US economy and kept repeating the same soundbite - something which all politicians do when they have no answers.

Take that 'economic competence' away and you are left with very little with Mr Romney

As for a running mate to combat either Obama or Billary, what about Condoleeza Rice. I know she is highly controversial and linked to the Bush administration but she would certainly balance the ticket in many ways.

revolting colonies said...

Its wrong to assume the Democrats will win. On current polling (especially Obama v McCain) the head to head polls are pretty close; Like the last 2 US general elections.
Us europeans say 'They couldn't have another republican could they?' It is true that historically after a 2 term Pres' they have switched parties.
A McCain VP is ideally a conservative woman (who is considerably younger than him).

Unity said...

I'm inclined agree with Heffer that McCain will be cautious in his choice of running mate.

Huckabee has a chance, but only if he can put a few more victories under his belt and gain enough support to force the issue, or if he can pick up a significant amount of Romney's support if he pull out of the race, which I think is doubtful as with Romney out of the race, many of his supporters will switch to McCain just to be seen to be backing the winner.

I suspect McCain will be looking for safe pair hands for the VP role. A solid conservative, Christian but not aggressively evangelical and with a decent body of experience as a senator or state governor.

If you're looking for possibilities I'd be checking out the Mid-West for a likely contender.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

McCain needs a conservative running mate, and according to one US commentator,

"Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain's problems with conservatives run deep".

Thankfully Mitt Romney is a no no, and Husckabee is acknowledged to have done well - "Huckabee's strong showing allowed him to again make the case that he is the conservative alternative" according to the Washington Post.

In the circumstances, he would be the sensible choice for McCain.

"The GOP's natural ticket is obviously McCain-Huckabee" writes Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic.

Simon Heffer in his "Tour de force" (you have been sitting on his lap for too long) does not offer a credible alternative to McCain/Huckabee, and in any case, McCain could do with a running mate who looks like Kevin Spacey.

raincoaster said...

Lieberman is the Typhoid Mary of political failure. He'll have a nice career as a professional windbag, but McCain is too smart to let that two-faced opportunist near him.

McCain is a Republican for whom I have a fair degree of respect. His blatant pandering over the issue of abortion, however, is a bad sign. Whatever you believe, you have got to question a man who reverses himself so unequivocally, just to become less offensive to those who are never going to support him anyway. Still, McCain personally intervened to help a friend of mine, a military widow, when the bureaucracy was telling her to pound sand and forget her husband's pension. He not only solved her problem, he made it a bit of a national crusade and solved the problem for a lot of other military widows as well.

And my friend is a prominent Democratic activist. She'd been out campaigning against him the very day their conversation took place.

Ken said...

My guess is McCain looks only for a slightly more conservative version of himself. Seriously, this is his chance to put someone in line for a huge boost as frontrunner come the next contested primary race, and help define the tone of the Republican party. Why on earth would he go for an arch-conservative in that case? My guess is that he will go for a younger version of him. Charlie Crist in Florida or Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota would fit the bill perfectly.

I McKellar said...

McCain's Running Mate

Colin Powell, Condy Rice or Joe Lieberman!

Albert M. Bankment said...

Dear Verity

It's not sniffyness, or any sense of superiority. It's disbelief that GWB has, for example:
[1] managed to alienate so much of the world to what were widely-accepted and rather noble democratic values,
[2] trashed the US budget, prudently balanced by Clinton after Reagan's excesses,
[3] jeopardised all of its own citizens who dare to travel around the world,
[4] with the same effect upon the citizens of its allies,
[5] wrecked a viable [albeit massively corrupt] state in pursuit of one man's vindictive revenge, (while hypocritically ignoring equivalent levels of corruption among 'friendly' states),
[6] endorsed torture and limitless imprisonment without trial,
[7] mulishly refused to acknowledge any duty for the USA to make the most trivial efforts to control its citizens profliaget use of energy resources,
[8] made clear his contempt for every nation and faith upon the planet apart from his own.
[9 - infinitum] ....

Whoever is elected in November, the rest of the world looks forward to a mighty nation being governed once more with a modicum of intelligence, enlightenment and sensitivity.

God only knows that this nation has made countless mistakes over the centuries. We have, however, tended to learn from most of them. It's GWB's giggling and self-satisfied global myopia, and his refusal to learn or acknowledge error, that grates on many of the 95% of the world's population who aren't American citizens. Not that you clearly give a damn what anyone thinks. As the saintly Frank Zappa once wrote:
Don't try to do not thinkin'.
Just keep on with your drinkin'.
Have your fun, you old son of a gun,
Then drive home in your Lincoln.

dozzy said...

It's still very hush hush, but I hear that Tony Blair is about to throw his hat into the ring for the vice-president job. He has the enthusiastic support of George Bush, and he should have no problem delivering the Catholic vote. He has strong credentials in foreign policy, having single-handedly brought peace to the middle east. With his legendary charisma, he is believed to be the only candidate who can out-charm Obama. Gordon Brown is backing the proposal, on the grounds that Washington is further away than Brussels. Cherie's personal astrologer has predicted that Blair will sweep to victory in November, and that after
McCain's passing Blair will be hailed as the greatest American President since Kennedy.

Chris said...

Well, if he's looking for a successor rather than someone to balance the ticket, why not put Guilliani on the ticket? Guilliani still has national stature, and would make a solid VP.

Nicholas Bennett said...

Huckabee's my man for VP!

Colin said...

Verity is right, is she not? - Amercia is unpopular and may have much to be defensive about - but it doesn't care what the rest of us in 'Yoorup' think of it. Because, to most Americans, especially those in Washington DC, it simply doesn't matter much. It might be good for European 'leaders' to posture omn the White House 'lawn' with the latest dunderhead to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave - but the average American Joe or Joanna couldn't care less, or even find 'Yoorup'on the map. Why should they? Foreign policy has precious little influence on what the US does in the world: Iraq would still have been invaded without our participation. (That would probably have been the best outcome, as anyone except the tightly-corduroyed Blair could have seen at the time.) Yup, America goes its own sweet way, and the photo-op visits to the White House or 'Camp David' are a complete waste of time.

What America may not realise, because it has no real need to take note of what others think, is the degree of anti-Americanism that has been building for some time here in the UK and other places that are insignificant to the US administration. That, I think, is what informs Heffer's writing. And that is something new, over the past decade or so, almost completely co-inciding with the GW Bush administration - a president for whom there is an almost unprecedented lack of respect or even regard. And I include LBJ and Nixon in that, so it's some contest.

In the Uk there are acres of covearge of the US primaries and then the general election. But I doubt whether a general election in the UK warrants more than a footnote on page 47 of the Washington Post or NY Times.

America won the war of Independence: Verity doesn't need to concern herself with what we think because to her and her fellow citizens, it simply doesn't matter!

stevie said...

Any chance you could encourage that Heffer fella to stay in the States as Mc Cains stunt double(the double chins and all that). It would leave more than one Telegraph reader eternally in your debt.

Paddy Briggs said...


According to an independent global survey conducted by Anholt the UK could certainly offer advice to the US. In their "Global Brands Index" the UK was NUMBER ONE ! If you want to know more go to:

If you couldn't be bothered to do this here are the top ten:

1 UK
2 Germany
3 France
4 Canada
5 Switzerland
6 Sweden
7 Italy
8 Australia
9 Japan
10 United States

verity said...

Geoff - Well, as it looks as though it's going to be McCain, who I personally don't like, then for his running mate, Huckabee. He has a good reputation as Governor of Arkansas and is a capable man. I would rather see him as the nominee, because McCain doesn't have any executive experience. But as that's not to be, his experience as the chief executive of a state will be important for McCain.

raincoaster said...

Please, people: Condi Rice is not electable. She has all the charm and popular appeal of a mud shark. And she has no patience for the glad-handing that is a prerequisite for election.

verity said...

Dozzy - a deeply silly and unfunny post, because it has no basis. The primary qualification for the presidency of the United States is that the candidate must have been born an American. There is no way round this.

Colin writes: What America may not realise, because it has no real need to take note of what others think, is the degree of anti-Americanism that has been building for some time here in the UK and other places that are insignificant to the US administration.

The anti-Americanism in Britain is shrill and shrieking with jealousy and resentment. A significant number of bien pensants still secretly believe that the United States is some kind of ignorant, country hick parvenu and isn't paying sufficient attention to the more sophisticated and nuanced opinions of people like, uh, um, OK, Gordon Brown? Jack Straw? Harriet Harman? Various newspaper columnists like Simon Heffer? Not to mention the many British bloggers who have never even visited the United States, never mind have the slightest scintilla of familiarity with its history or mores. Americans have the impertinence to run their own country to suit themselves. Can you beat it?

Think about this for one minute, you shrill America-haters: the US is the only mighty power in the history of the world that has absolutely no imperial ambitions. Indeed, pushes imperial opportunities away. American citizens enjoy far greater liberties than you do, and their government is far more responsive to them. Send an email to your Congress representative and an aide will be back to you probably that day. And he/she will stick with the problem.

They're far more jealous of their liberties and rights over there than in Britain, where the voter is supine and cowed and has allowed all his rights to be slipped out from under him, like a rug.

Yak40 said...

What America may not realise, because it has no real need to take note of what others think, is the degree of anti-Americanism that has been building for some time here in the UK and other places

Building since the 50s at least, avidly promoted by the BBC and the leftist wackos and Soviet apologists in the media and parliament.

Britain, heal thyself, your "democracy" is fast going down the tubes.

verity said...

Paddy Briggs - Whoop de doo! America has 302m people. Their domestic market takes up a lot of their time. Canada has - I think - around 40m. Mexico has 100m. So the entire N American continent, via NAFTA, keeps them pretty busy, as well.

Little Black Sambo said...

Dozzy: as for Blair's qualifications for election as VP, he also sorted out Africa. You forgot to mention that.

Albert M. Bankment said...

Verity at 2.02

Mark Twain wrote:
'The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: "The King can do no wrong." We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: "Our country, right or wrong!" We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had: the individual's right to oppose both flag and country when he (just he, by himself) believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.'

Anonymous said...

Surely Fred Thompson would be an obvious choice despite not having endorsed McCain. He is popular, credible with the right and has a good personal relationship with McCain having supported him in 2000. He is a Southerner and to the right of McCain without being mad.

Pete (WestBrom Blogger) said...

"Reagan addressed the issue of age in 1980 by picking a younger, experienced, political adversary, George Bush, as his running mate. McCain will need to do the same, but he will also be trying to prevent the first woman or African American becoming president. Identity politics is important in the states, so he should use what is in his arsenal, and that's where Condoleezza Rice comes in. There are two things that I can't help noticing about Dr. Rice...she's black and she's a woman".

Of course this is all dependant on whether she wants the position.

Also Mitt has just pulled out.

NewWelshRight said...

Gov Haley Barbour for VP?

SG said...

What about Condi Rice? She is one of the saner people in the Bush administration, and would bring the real administrative experience that McCain lacks.

She is also much closer to McCain politically than some other Republicans - someone who McCain would be very happy to take over should the unthinkable occur.