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Nate's Blog


New York, New York,
December 31
I'm a musician, blogger, and like to fancy myself an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and travel blogger . I use Open Salon to post thoughts that I feel pertain to broader cultural dialogues in the US, most recently the state of jazz, my chosen profession.

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AUGUST 22, 2008 2:45PM

Across the Aisle

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By all indications Barack Obama stands ready to announce Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, or the little known Chet Edwards as his running mate.  All "do no harm" picks, consistent with the timing of the anouncement--the slower weekend news cycle.  So this is probably the last chance I'll get to proselytize about my wish list.

I'd like to see Obama surprise everybody and grab back control of the news cycle by picking Michael Bloomberg, Chuck Hagel, or Colin Powell.

I think a cross-partisan pick is best for a number of reasons, first and foremost that Bloomberg, Hagel or Powell would help shore up Obama's perceived inexperience (Hagel and Powell in particular his foreign policy experience) without simultaneously sending a "Washington insider" message.  True, Hagel and Powell are Washington insiders, but a pick across the aisle would negate the most potent argument against Washington insiders-namely that this is "politics as usual."  It's definitely not politics as usual.

Second, any of the three would address the ongoing issue of Hillary Clinton's supporters as well as any pick save Hillary herself.  By picking any other Democrat, especially a Washington fixture like Joe Biden, Obama suffers the same liabilities as if he'd picked Hillary--namely seeming more partisan than his campaign intends--with none of the benefits of HRC's 18 million votes.  Picking outside the Democratic Party might help heal some of the wounds from the primary season by taking intra-Party jealousy out of play.   Bloomberg (not incidentally Jewish), Hagel or Powell could also potentially shore up some of the Clinton Coalition--Reagan Democrats who voted for Bush 43 but who were ready to vote to HRC--better than a strictly partisan but non Hillary pick.

Finally, and most importantly, choosing Bloomberg, Hagel or Powell would cement the central message the Obama campaign needs to hit hard from now until November-namely that this campaign is not a contest of left and right but rather a contest of fact-based solutions and rigid and outdated ideology.  Between one who, as yesterday's excellent NYT article spelled out, is open to considering any solution to our economic woe--from either side of the political spectrum--he feels might work, and one who is rigidly committed to a manifestly false ideology, to the exclusion of any inconvenient facts.  Having a Hagel or a Bloomberg on the stump saying, "look-I'm not a Democrat, but our problems are too big to be wedded to low corporate taxes and deregulation as the solutions to all our problems: Only Barack is really taking a close look at this," would send a pretty powerful message.

Is it too much to hope that Obama's recent declamations that his pick was somebody who "pushes back" and challenges his ideas might mean a cross-the-aisle upset?  I'm just audacious enough.

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This is well-reasoned and persuasive, Nate. It certainly would be a bold departure.
Meh. Hagel, maybe. I find Bloomberg totally unimpressive and as for Colin Powell, ugh. His performance on behalf of the Bush regime in the run-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq soured me on him forever.
Bearpaw-good points. Allow me to push back.

I can't comment on your opinion of bloomberg since I don't know the particulars. He's a capitalist and a land-deal maven. He comes down on the "elitist" side of a lot of issues, depending on your perspective-he would definitely be the guy who allowed gas prices to rise to spur alternative energy, not withstanding its impact on the poor. David brooks is in favor of Biden, who arguably shores up the missing constituencies of the Democratic working class. Biden is sort of the opposite of Bloomberg, who is more like Obama.

Valid point on Powell as well, though I would argue he proved he was the one member of the administration with both loyalty and a conscience, and probably learned the lessons of that war better than anyone.

Besides, it's not you or me that needs convincing.