I don't imagine that Senator Barack Obama's veep vetting team is paying much attention to what I have to say, but I want to make the case for who I think the Land of Lincolner should pick for his running mate.
Since Obama became my party's presumptive nominee on June 3, names like Joe Biden, Tim Kaine, Evan Bayh, and Kathleen Sebelius have dominated the headlines. Jim Webb and Mark Warner took themselves out of consideration earlier this summer, and there's been speculation this week that Hillary Clinton has been asked to deliver the keynote speech at Tuesday night's convention, which pundits say rules out any chance that the junior New York Senator might speak as a Vice Presidential candidate in Denver (never mind that Tuesday, except in 2004, has traditionally been the Vice Presidential nominee's night anyway, which the talking heads seem to overlook).
Obama can't tap Joe Biden. I like the senior statesman from Delaware quite a bit, and had he not voted the way he did on the Bankruptcy Bill, I might have considered supporting him -- but how can Obama's insurgent campaign to change the game of Washington politics put someone on the ticket who has been showing up to work at the Capitol every day since 1973?
The same goes for Evan Bayh. Before I ever thought Senator Obama would run, I liked Bayh's midwestern appeal, and closely followed the moves of his political action committee, All America PAC, as he campaigned across New Hampshire throughout 2006. Bayh has a centrist appeal, lots of experience, and could give Obama the best shot of any Democrat to carry the Hoosier State, which hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1964. (When Bayh was up for re-election to the US Senate in 2004, he beat George Bush in votes in every county in Indiana.)
Flat out, Kathleen Sebelius and Tim Kaine have no foreign policy experience. When Obama's biggest flaw, in the eyes of his biggest critics, is a lack of experience in international policy, why put Tim Kaine or Kathleen Sebelius on the ticket, who both have served in public office for less time than Obama (Sebelius was first elected Governor in 2002, Kaine in 2005)? Even with the ability to boast executive experience, Barack Obama already has the "leadership" quality going for him.
"But Ben, you've torn apart the shortlist!" I hear you cry.
I never thought I could say this about any issue, but Obama should take a page from George Bush and pick the head of his search committee: Caroline Kennedy.
Sure, it's an ambitious choice. But Obama for America has been an ambitious endeavor from the beginning. You can come right back at me and charge that "she has no foreign policy experience," and "she's never lead anything!"
Caroline Kennedy has experience as a lawyer and a member of our greater American and world community. Not only has she represented Camelot and our nation, but she's been a witness to the inner-workings of government for decades, while maintaining her role as an outsider.
Critics have said that Senator Obama can't put another woman on the ticket as it might anger Hillary supporters. I think they are right. Putting Kathleen Sebelius on the ticket is simply putting a female governor on the ticket to put a female governor on the ticket.
But Caroline Kennedy has the experience and training necessary to lead, and as Vice President, could help to restore our image in the world. She's my choice, and I hope I get to cast my vote for her in Denver.