« Joe Biden's greatest blowhard moment | Main | How liberal are Obama and Biden? »

August 22, 2008


I think you're probably right about all these comments, but that's just an opinion, not based on quantitative analysis or rigorous proof. The tone of your footnote does give me pause, because it reminds me so much of what Daniel Yankelovich called the McNamara fallacy:

Some years ago the sociologist and pollster Daniel Yankelovich described a process he called the McNamara fallacy, after the Secretary of Defense who had so carefully quantified the Vietnam War.

"The first step," he said, "is to measure what can easily be measured. The second is to disregard what can't be measured, or give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily isn't very important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist."

-- "Adam Smith" (George G. W. Goodman), Paper Money, New York: Summit Books, 1981, p. 37

This post was funny, although I think there's merit in the analysis of point one. While, historically, the VP has pick has had a marginal elctoral role, it does give us a glimpse into what the campaign machine is thinking at any given time.

We can afford to assume that Tim Kaine won't help in VA, or that Joe Biden isn't going to tighten up Obama's experience cred. However, the campaigns don't get that luxury, and I thin they'd rather operate under the assumption that THIS race will defy historical odds than do otherwise.

So, if Obama picks Biden it may have little or no substantive impact on the race, but it tells us that Obama's team is worried about the way Georgia made their guy look. If it's Kaine, well, you could assume a number of things--he has "executive experience," he can help you in VA, etc.

Only one area of disagreement; if he picked Hilary Clinton, if she wants it, I think he'd get 5% more votes (enough to win) ... and he knows it. Tough call for him.


I agree with Brendan here. I might suggest the addition of:

2(c) how the VP helps or hurts the people he serves during his time in office.

3. The selection should therefore be assessed primarily in light of #2, not #1. (It will not be.)

I don't agree. I think a pretty strong case can be made that both Al Gore and Dick Cheney were picked because they were a good match to Bill Clinton and George Bush (and that's why the vice presidency has gained power over the last 16 years). Neither fell into the traditional math for a VP pick.

Maybe, before jumping to the conclusion that Obama (or McCain) is trying to fill a gap in their own resume, we should spend some time asking whether we feel that they would be compatible working with the running mate they ultimately choose.

Who do you think they'd pick if they didn't have any political concerns at all?

To be clear - I don't agree with Brendan's footnote (it will not be).

I do agree that the VP choice should be based on how that person will help the president in office and afterwards.

The comments to this entry are closed.