THE PLANK JUNE 9, 2008
Who told Mark Halperin it's Veep Week at TNR?!
OK, so Halperin might have been writing about vice presidential selections anyway. Whatever. Today over at Time's The Page, he weighs in on the most underrated--and overrated--criteria for picking a candidate.
Haplerin's underrated qualities tend to be those that reflect on ability to perform successfully both as a political surrogate (i.e., "someone who can go after the opposition with a stiletto and a smile") and a leader ("someone who is ready to be president from Day One"). Halperin's overrated qualities are mostly those that would, in theory, help either man compensate for a political vulnerability--"someone who can potentially help win a state," "someone who can potentially win over a voting group," and so on.
You can see the whole list here.
Halperin knows far more about the inside workings of presidential politics than I do, so it's not exactly my place to say if he's right or wrong. But, for what it's worth, I suspect that he is right, at least in Obama's case.
Based on what I've read, heard, and seen of Obama, he thinks of himself as a principle-minded politician who disdains pandering. And whether or not that's entirely accurate description of the way Obama actually acts--it isn't, though it's probably more true of Obama than most politicians--I suspect his approach to the vice presidential selection will reflect this mindset. Given an opportunity to pick somebody who compensates for his political shortcomings, real or perceived, Obama will go out of his way to pick somebody whom he believes is the most qualified to serve, both as a working partner and, if necessary, as president.
(Confession of possible wishful thinking: As I've noted before, I happen to think this is the way Obama should pick his running mate.)
Edit: Fixed misspelling of Halperin's name in headline. D'oh!