Time grows short for Senators McCain and Obama to announce their respective running mates. As of this writing we still really don't know in either case. For both, it is a choice that could (not necessarily will) make or break the campaign. One would think that they are both close to a final decision, but my sofa kremlinology does not see traction anywhere. McCain's present trajectory is taking him in the direction of Huckabee, not that McCain will choose him (he won't), but the Republican campaign is turning out to be much more traditional than we might have expected. More war and oil rigs are required. Vice-President Romney will attend to the oil rigs. Meanwhile there is an opportunity to burnish the national reputations of some younger conservatives through the medium of the Veep list and all its attendant theatrics.
By the way, what is with the ritualistic "Would you comment about your being on the veep list?" question that every TV journalist must ask it of every politician rumored to be so? It's like the very traditional, very ritualistic sports interviews before and after games: "Well we're hoping to do well and we feel good, but they're a tough team, so let's hope for the best." "Well the nominee has to be free to make a decision in the best interests of the campaign, so I wouldn't interfere by promoting myself." And that's it. So the behavior is wholly ritualistic. Can some anthropologist explain this to me?
Meanwhile as to the Democrats, I like it that Obama has this kind of cagey streak to him where we don't know what he's going to do. I started out not liking Jim Webb, but I was won over finally by his interest in prison reform, a major issue that is too much off the radar screen. As to Joe Biden, I've liked him as a senator for a long time, but how could Obama justify the choice of Biden (or Dodd) if he weren't going to choose Clinton (or even Richardson for that matter)? I think I was wrong that Obama could nominate a woman-not-Hillary, in any event we're not seeing much of the other prospective nominees (ie Kathleen Sebelius). Rachel Maddow has made the point a few times that there's no particular reason why Hillary Clinton has to be the only woman whom the party could nominate, which is true enough except that Hillary Clinton happens to be an actual politician who is a woman candidate for national office, and not an abstract woman candidate for national office like we're used to thinking about. If Obama had a bigger lead in the polls he might want to play it safe with Evan Bayh or some other white-bread young midwesterner, but something more daring is called for I think. The continuing uncertainty of the role of the Clintons at the convention kind of jumps out at me. Obama had to make it clear to the world that he could and would decide on his running mate based entirely on his own considerations: he had to prove that he was in control of the process. He couldn't have it appear that the Clintons had shot their way on to the ticket. And I think now he has accomplished that, so now's the time to...nominate Clinton. Which is the obvious choice from the most basic of political considerations. Maybe Obama's known that he was going to pick Clinton in the end all along.