Word is that Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama snuck down to North Carolina last weekend to meet with John Edwards, possibly to seek his endorsement, sound him out for the vice presidency, or to brush up on his snake-oil salesmanship. After all, why wouldn’t the black knight of the new Camelot go for the guy with the pageboy haircut?
So what’s happening in the GOP vice-presidential world? Last week at CPAC, after the initial shock of McCain’s inevitability set in, lots of VP ideas were bandied about. Conventional wisdom had John McCain going with someone like longtime supporter, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a tax-cutter and fellow traveler on the global warming merry-go-round. Others said that maybe Florida’s Charlie Crist would get the nod in the hopes that he could put his state in the Republican win column come November.
Some thought that old pal Fred Thompson would go a long way in mending conservative fences while others felt sure that a marriage of convenience with Mitt Romney was in the offing.
But one of the oddest suggestions I heard was that of Christopher Cox. Chris Cox? The former California congressman who is currently chairman of the SEC? I yawned at the time, but have since warmed to the idea.
COX, AS YOU MAY remember, served as a member of the House for 16 years with impeccable conservative credentials. And although he’s probably best remembered for the report on the Chinese espionage scandal that bore his name, he also compiled a sterling 98 lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union.
In contrast, his consistent pro-life voting record earned him a big, fat goose egg from the abortion-lovers at NARAL. Ontheissues.com rates him “a hard-cord conservative”; a lovely sobriquet, no?
His resume is the stuff of conservative legend; he simultaneously earned his MBA and JD from Harvard, and before serving as an associate counsel in the Reagan White House, he joined the firm of Latham & Watkins, where he specialized in venture capital and corporate finance.
With Cox’s knowledge of the Russian language — he is fluent — in 1984, he co-founded Context Corporation, which translated Pravda into English, and was used in 26 countries around the world. The man is not your garden-variety policy wonk.
Cox would be nearly bullet-proof to the attacks of the media, with no sharp edges for them to get their hooks into. Although certainly conservative, he has managed at every level to achieve a high degree of bipartisanship, working with and earning the admiration of men like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and Ron Wyden.
He has also experienced the kind of personal tragedy that unfortunately appeals to the media beast; when he was a boy, his little sister was accidentally killed by their father while backing out of the driveway on Easter Sunday. In 1978, Cox was severely injured in an off-roading incident in Hawaii which resulted in his being partially paralyzed for six months and left him with two metal screws in his back and chronic pain that will never abate.
YET HE IS AN extremely fit-looking man of 55; the devoted husband and father of three children who is possessed of a sunny disposition and an air of equanimity that would be a nice counterbalance to the public image of John McCain. McCain has infamously admitted that he is basically a babe in the financial woods and so would hugely benefit by associating himself with someone with a fiscal pedigree like the “cerebral and punctilious” Cox.
The thought of the brilliant, virile and handsome Cox climbing the platform at the Republican Convention in St. Paul — where he was born and raised and also might swing votes — alongside the aging McCain, presents a pleasant physical as well as mental image.
And, much as this has aggravated us in the past, McCain’s status as moderate maverick, combined with his military appeal and Cox’s ties to Orange County and Silicon Valley, might actually put California into play for Republicans, especially against that tower of charm and personality that is Hillary Clinton.
And if, after all of this, you’re thinking that Cox might better serve his party and nation as presidential timber, who other than a Vice President Cox would be better positioned for 2012?