Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Veep Roulette

Now that both major party candidates have made their vice-presidential picks, I figured I'd take a brief off-the-cuff look at them. I know nothing about Wayne Allyn Root, Bob Barr's Libertarian running mate, other than the fact that he can't spell "Allen." So I won't go into him much.

Let's start with Biden. On a personal level, I like Biden. Nine of the ten best moments from the early Democratic debates were Biden. He's got a ton of foreign policy experience and is an experienced lawmaker who can help the relatively green Obama navigate Washington's black holes and get things done. Policy-wise, though, there's a lot to be worried about. He supported the godawful bankruptcy bill and he supported the war in Iraq. And Balko points out the many reasons that Fourth Amendment fans should loathe Biden. The main thing I take from that isn't that Obama necessarily agrees with Biden on his anti-Fourth Amendment drug-war radicalism, but that he really doesn't care enough about excessive police powers for that sort of thing to be disqualifying. Fourth Amendment violations are bad whether they're a result of fighting drugs or terrorism. The fact that Obama doesn't worry about the former raises the question of whether he cares enough about the latter.

McCain, as we all know by now, picked Tina Fey. I have a lot of reasons to not like Palin, and they have little to do with all the crap the mainstream media likes to throw around. She's a book banner and a fan of ineffective abstinence-only education. She supported federal earmarks totaling about $1,000 per person for her small Alaska town when she was mayor. She places low taxes ahead of fiscal responsibility. True, she's an anti-corruption reformer, which is nice, but there's too much other objectionable stuff there for me to really get excited about that. One of the reasons I didn't mind McCain is that he seemed like a departure from the tired religious conservatism of the Bush era - but that's the mold out of which Palin appears to have been cut.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a lot not to like about both of them. Biden's probably in the right on a lot more issues than Palin is, though. I think Obama didn't have a whole lot of better options available, and Biden's not a bad chief advisor to have. McCain, however, had plenty. Joe Lieberman would have been perfect for the image McCain is trying to project, even if they disagree on a lot. Mitt Romney oozes competence, which is comforting in someone who would be backing up a guy who will be 76 on Election Day 2012. Picking a hard-right cookie-cutter social conservative with one and a half years' gubernatorial experience completely undermines both of McCain's main narratives - one, that he's the maverick willing to take on his own party as well as the opposing party, and two, that he's the safe, experienced choice.

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