Progressives should weigh in now on the vice-presidential choices facing Barack Obama. If all progressives are united for or against a particular candidate, we can be a factor in the mix ahead. The choice needs to be someone who [a] wins a state or two that Obama might not win on his own, [b] wins over the Clinton voter constituency, and [c] can placate traditional party leaders. But from a progressive perspective, the choice also should be someone with Obama's instinct for organizing a majority progressive movement, not someone who revives the fading pro-business, pro-war DLC. The ticket should excite even more people around Obama's vision of a reclaimed democracy from below, not someone who will dampen the enthusiasm.
To cast your preference and convey your thinking, just type progressives/obama/blogspot into Google, and you will get there.
Here are my thoughts, to initiate this discussion:
* 1. Bill Richardson -- Could help win New Mexico and Colorado, and increase overall Obama turnout among Latinos. Good credentials. Good on issues. Able to ensure that the Obama administration pays attention to Latin America. Needs to be vetted further. Conventional wisdom is that a "two-fer" [black and brown] won't work. Go for it unless the vetting turns up problems, otherwise give him a Cabinet post.
* 2. James Webb -- Good credentials: military, former Republican, Navy Secretary under Reagan. Relatively good on issues like war, economy, outsider and independent. Might mean losing Virginia Senate seat in future. But if he guarantees Virginia for Obama and helps in Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, take the chance.
* 3. John Edwards -- Attorney General, not VP.
* 4. Hillary Clinton -- While she has to be on the short list, and while weird bedfellows are not unusual, this is to be avoided if at all possible. The incompatibilities are too great, and the turnoff factor would be a problem. It is not clear that she would bring a state that Obama couldn't capture on his own, assuming that many Hillary voters turn to McCain. She might prefer her independence in the Senate.
* Proposed Clinton surrogates include Ted Strickland Evan Bayh, and Wesley Clark, shadows of the DLC. See the report on them in Sunday's Washington Post. But WEBB might do as well as Strickland in Ohio. Bayh is not likely to carry Indiana. Clark brings military credentials and has close relationship with Obama's former advisor Samantha Power, but will he carry Arkansas or any other state? Ed Rendell and Bob Casey should be added, though neither is on the Clinton camp's list reported in the Post. Rendell is the popular Pennsylvania governor who sadly pushed for the execution of Mumia, and led Clinton's successful campaign in that state. Casey is the anti-abortion Democrat who campaigned for Obama. Both certainly deserve a look, given Pennsylvania's importance. None of these candidates convey the image of a new politics, the standard suggested by Ted Kennedy last week.