Webb Out, Edwards Maybe In

Posted by Katherine | July 11, 2008 – 10:01 am
Vice presidential seal
[-John– / Flickr]

The Democratic VP territory shifted this week. On Monday, Jim Webb declared he didn’t want to be Obama’s running mate. The next day, John Edwards changed his tune and said he’d consider a VP slot if asked.

Kevin O’Meara, Army officer turned business executive, must be very disappointed that Webb has bowed out. O’Meara thinks Webb’s savvy about the Iraq war qualified him to be VP (thanks, Misa Dayson):

I am a big fan because he is a true conservative and in the biggest decision of the last 10 years, whether to take the United States into a long term war with no end in site or not, he was absolutely right in saying we should not do it. He was, actually, prophetic in his prediction of what would happen if went to war in Iraq and he wrote it down in a Washington Post Article so no one can dispute that he made the call.

[…] He asks the appropriate question:

“Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism?”

Of course what is so insighful in this question is he is actually thinking about what happens after we invade and occupy Iraq. Something apparently Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld missed in the planning process.

O’Meara goes on to highlight Webb’s warning that occupation of Iraq would weaken America’s ability to respond to crises in other parts of the world — like North Korea or Iran. Also that it would create a breeding ground for terrorism.

Will Minus Intellect is a Bostonian filmmaker recently transplanted to Los Angeles. S/he thinks Webb might be protecting himself from scrutiny over some of his controversial statements about women and the Confederacy:

I imagine Webb realized that he would be running into a buzzsaw in this election in regards to women’s rights and his history of glorifying the confederacy. It would be better for his political future — should he choose to run for President some day — to acquire more of a record as a Senator that he could use to combat some of those charges, particularly if he could find his way to support some issues important to women.

Goldnl calls herself “a progressive Jew down in the Bible Belt.” She’s a student and politics junkie in Nashville, Tennessee, and she wonders whether Webb’s demurral was a way to preempt the embarrassment of not being picked:

Perhaps Obama and his campaign advisors did strongly consider the pros and cons of Jim Webb. But in the end, I think they’re going to go with someone from the Midwest or the Rocky Mountain states, and double down on the strategy to win out there. Obama doesn’t have as much to lose by not putting Webb on the ticket–he doesn’t necessarily need Webb to win in Virginia, and the odds of him winning the neighboring states of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, are very slim even with Webb (North Carolina is a different set of demographics). So maybe this is a way for Webb to save face […]

Mad Typist from Alexandria, Virginia, thinks that choosing Edwards as a “safe” candidate is lame reasoning. She’d like someone a little edgier:

What I’m looking for is someone who contrasts Obama, someone who can appeal to those on the fence about the man because he or she has a different perspective on key emotional issues (i.e. gun control, military background). Obviously, Webb was a perfect study in a complementary contrast of ideas working together, but he’s out. I want someone who feels organically blue collar, someone who brings a rougher side to the polished Obama campaign.

Publius is a lawyer in Texas. He likes hot sauce. But for the Dem VP he’s okay with something less piquant:

Edwards would be a fairly safe pick – he’s been a national candidate, he’s an experienced campaigner, etc. Accordingly, there’s less chance of some damning disclosure or amateur gaffe. At the same time, I think he – unlike, say, Biden or Clinton – reinforces Obama’s “change” narrative. True, he’s not Webb, but I still think he’s a relatively fresh face. In short, he hits the sweet spot between “safety” and “change.”

To the extent you care about the post-election (and you may not, though you should), I think Edwards could be an asset here too. It’s true that he lacks the experience of a Biden. But that said, he was a Senator and has become an extremely well-informed reality-based wonk who would bring passion and meticulous detail to his assignment (health care, perhaps?). While he would be weaker behind the scenes in DC, he would potentially be a stronger public face for major policy initiatives.

[…] [G]iven the remaining choices, Edwards looks … not bad. Particularly for the risk averse.

None of this, of course, dampens the speculation that Clinton or others are first in line.

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