Friday, August 29, 2014
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Obama probably needs Wesley Clark

Wesley Clark for veep

Obama probably needs Wesley Clark

It seems like today is Veep Day -- a lot of people out there are weighing in on who Obama and McCain should pick for their No. 2s. The only things I know for sure is that a) I honestly have no clue who McCain should pick -- the most interesting name I heard was ex-Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who unlike McCain knows at least something about the economy and who would help pick off a few disgruntled Clinton backers (although wasn't she fired?) and b) I just don't think Clinton works for Obama, not only because of the inevitable bad chemistry between them but because Bill Clinton would just hover over everything.

So who should Obama pick? Well, vice presidential candidates are a little like the presidential candidates -- they're all flawed, only slightly more so. I once thought that Obama should maybe pick a woman, but the field of non-Hillary females is kind of lackluster and -- given the way some voters are reacting to Obama -- he may need to play it fairly traditional.

I think the ideal Obama veep would be a Clinton supporter, to unite the party, and someone who's not just a senator, who has some experience running something. But what I think he needs most is somebody with a miltary background, because the campaign has shown this to be Obama's greatest weakness, that he just seems like someone who doesn't "get" the military. That's not a fatal flaw -- remember the military exploits and non-exploits of the last two commanders-in-chief? -- and I think it's a little silly for McCain to chide the 46-year-old Obama for not enlisting for the Great War in Grenada. But Obama clearly looks more comfortable around community organizers than in military settings, and to defeat McCain he's going to need to send a strong signal that an Obama administration would be military-friendly.

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb could send that signal -- the fact that he was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan is too perfect, and he's a Vietnam veteran with a son serving in Iraq. from a key battleground state. But he's also got liabilities -- at times hotheaded, or accused of sexism -- and is fairly new to the national scene. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark would be better. He's a former commander of NATO, a Clinton supporter, from a Southern state (Arkansas), and he's popular with the Democrats' liberal base. He's got flaws, too -- remember his brief 2004 presidential campaign, which was a kind of weak effort? -- but I think his expertise and standing on military issues is something that Obama can't afford to pass up.

By the way, I do think our own Ed Rendell is in the Final Four, perhaps, but his well-known foot-in-mouth disease is probably a fatal flaw.

SPECIAL BONUS "WHO SAID IT": Who said in 2004 that Wesley Clark's involvement with the Democrats was a matter of "political convenience, not conviction"?

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