Even if I weren't a girl, I'd be recommending to both parties' presidential candidates that the smartest choice for running mate is a woman. Barack Obama in particular has some very good choices, women who would provide a huge political boost during the general election campaign, contribute immensely in governing after the election and be prepared to govern should, God forbid, that ever be necessary. Here are my top three picks.
Senator Hillary Clinton, D (NY). So obvious, yet no one outside her rabid supporters is arguing for such a choice. She will energize her disgruntled and disappointed voters, increase voter turnout and steal back voters now wavering. In states expected to be close, she could very well make the difference. And if there is one thing she proved over the course of the primary battle it is that she is a warrior. Is there anyone you'd rather have covering your back during the general election? She will do whatever dirty work needs to be done, absorb some of the blows away from Obama, and give as good as she gets. Once in the White House, she could be an enormous asset. She knows the ropes and she's one smart cookie. If a President Obama is shrewd, he will find ways to use her substantial talents to better his administration and the country.
All the blabber about how difficult she or her husband would be to deal with is just plain silly. If we are ready as a country to grant that Barack Obama is prepared to be leader of the free world, then let's grant that dealing with the Clintons is not going to throw him for a loop. And, although the concerns about whether the "old politics" she represents will conflict with Obama post-partisan politics are valid, guess what: Old-style, hard-knuckle politics are not going to just disappear without a fight. Having one of the best political brawlers "inside the tent" and part of your team is much better than having her outside the tent plotting away.
Governor Janet Napolitano, D (AZ). As a governor, she brings a lot of invaluable management experience to the table, especially when a President Obama turns to the task of running this country. She could be of political value during the general election as well, with Arizona, John McCain's home state, suddenly added to the toss-up column. She understands the west and independent minded voters and could be key in accomplishing the mission of adding electoral votes from her neighboring western states, which could make the difference in the election.
Senator Olympia Snowe, R (ME). She's experienced. After serving sixteen years in the House, she is now in her third term in the United States Senate. A centrist Republican in the mold of Margaret Chase Smith and Howard Baker, she has a well-deserved reputation for bipartisanship and takes great pride in her ability to cross party lines to actually get things done. Her selection would speak more loudly than his words of Obama's stated commitment to usher in a new era of post-partisan leadership. Her personal story, laden with overcoming tragedy to become the youngest Republican woman and first Greek American woman to be elected to Congress, and her blue collar, down-to-earth leadership style provide additional reasons why women, regardless of party registration, will abandon McCain in droves. If she is Barack Obama's vice presidential choice, game over. Obama-Snowe kind of has a certain ring to it.
Three good women. Three impressive leaders. Three good political choices, all likely leading to a win for the Democrats. Unless. Unless John McCain's vice presidential pick turns out to also be a woman (maybe former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, R (NJ), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R (TX) or Senator Elizabeth Dole, R (NC)). Then all bets are off and it could get really interesting.