A Lot Of Smoke

As I write this the most popular parlor game in American politics is the identity of Joe Biden’s running mate. This is a game we play every four years (in open seat election years twice) and in the long run it means very little. It is fueled by the opposition intimating how bad all the options are along with how they will attack them and the media’s need to have something to fill their spaces with. I like to call it smoke and there is a lot of it around lately and not only from the Veepstakes but we’ll talk about some of the other smoke another day. Let’s explore.

I have no inside information as to who Biden will pick, nor do I know exactly when he will announce his choice. There is a chance that the event has already occurred by the time you read this. Lack of quality is not one of Biden’s challenges. Traditionally a campaign “steals” a news cycle with the Veep announcement; this time around that will be difficult. Donald Trump has very few business, governmental or political talents but one is dominating a news cycle. Often that domination is bad, but nonetheless we end up talking about him. If Biden announces his choice early in the day Trump will do whatever it takes to change the conversation.

The reality is that to a thinking voter Biden’s running mate choice is almost irrelevant. The winner of this November’s presidential election will be either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. (A “third party” vote is a wasted, dangerous and possibly counterproductive vote. Expect more about that in a future article.) In reality it is a binary choice between Biden and T/B/D vs. Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Out of the names “in play” Biden cannot choose a running mate bad enough to make the Democratic ticket worse than Trump-Pence.

As you might expect I have a favorite candidate but none being discussed is even close to unacceptable to me. My preferences are to a degree based on making the ticket more electable. This goes back to a lesson I learned decades ago from one of my political mentors the late John Maloney. Mr. Maloney taught me that the first obligation of a politician is to get elected/reelected because unless you win you can’t do yourself, your Party or your causes any good.

Each candidate for the number two slot has a flaw or vulnerability. Is anything else actually reasonable to expect? When evaluating a baseball prospect scouts look for five tools (hitting, hitting with power, fielding, an arm and speed.) Five tool players are all but non-existent. The major leagues are full of two and three tool players. Four and five tool players are extremely rare at that level. There are a lot more four than five tool players in Cooperstown.

There will be a lot more smoke between here and Election Day meant to distract you from the obvious choice for president and his name is Joe Biden.

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