Another Perspective

The Lady or the Lion?

Three choices for Obama.

By 5.5.08

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Harvard University's faculty can rejoice: Barack Obama is the likeliest Democratic nominee. Hillary rolls onward and might be able to pull off a miracle on Tuesday. Barring that, her chances of thwarting Senator Obama's coronation are increasingly remote. So the question turns to who Obama will choose as his running-mate? In the spirit of bipartisanship, here is a top-three list:

1. Evan Bayh (Senator, Indiana). This Hillary-loving Senator from the battleground region of Ohio and Indiana has all the right ingredients: a rich-boy along the lines of Al Gore, nary a spark of originality, boldness, or military service who seems to have acquired total mastery of being simultaneously boring and haughty. This pro-abortion lion would serve to highlight Senator Obama's often-mentioned desire to kick-it-back with fellow elites.

It's hard though not to give this Indiana senator, son of former Senator Birch Bayh (otherwise known as the creator of the disastrous Equal Rights Amendment), his due: he shines marvelously in talking right-wing, but voting left-wing. Indeed, this is a Senator who couldn't even bring himself to vote for the first black Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (despite initially praising her), and who glowingly introduced Chief Justice John Roberts at his confirmation hearings and then immediately voted against him. To successfully pull off those two tricky maneuvers can only mean Mr. Bayh has at least got brains -- just like Senator Obama.

If Obama picks him as veep it will be clear the Senator from Illinois wants a fellow brother occupying the Naval Observatory -- Bayh is smart, liberal, all round the "genius" pick for the genius candidate. It's how I'd vote.

2. Hillary Clinton (Senator, New York). Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. If Senator Obama follows this timeless advice, do not doubt that Hillary will be his vice presidential pick.

Obama should first and foremost be a little worried that if he does not pick her, the Clintons may continue sabotaging his candidacy. Yet, even if he chooses not to worry about such things, picking Mrs. Clinton is logical in other ways: Hillary will sway the elusive white working-class vote Obama's way, knocking back drinks here and there, and doubtless will fight for Obama's victory like a tiger.

Hillary's love of power -- even if it's only the minuscule power that comes with being the Vice President -- will make her fight for Obama in spectacular ways. (Besides, she probably really wants to become the first female Vice President, anyway.)

3. Bill Richardson (Governor, New Mexico). Surely, Judas needs some reward?

Bill Richardson's betrayal of the Clintons is serious business. His amazing national career was launched under the order of President Clinton. To turn around and endorse the Clintons' opponent is nothing short of breathtaking. Governor Richardson definitely deserves some compensation. The Naval Observatory is a nice thank-you, no?

As well, Gov. Richardson would be the first serious Hispanic vice presidential candidate and will help swing the battleground states of New Mexico, Florida, and Oregon into the Obama column. Choosing him will, too, make California nearly impossible terrain for Senator McCain and may even throw reliably Republican Texas (with its huge Central and Latin American immigrant population) into contention.

For the pure politics veep choice expect to see Barack Obama pick Governor Richardson.

Three choices, three decisions for Barack. Which one will he pick?

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About the Author

Thomas Cheplick is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist.