For about a month, I have been intending to write this piece but didn’t have the courage to write it until today; not until somebody smarter than I wrote what I have been wanting to.
I acknowledge right up front that I will likely anger some people that read this. That is not my intent at all. There is no question that the choice of a vice president by Governor Romney is very important for America as that person could become president in a heartbeat. Absolutely! However, I argue here that there is almost no value whatsoever in publicly speculating and debating who that person will be, many months ahead of when Governor Romney will make the decision. It is a well accepted truth that the selection of a veep has little to no impact in a presidential contest, except in the negative (remember unprepared Palin?).
My assertion is that all public discussion and debate of who Governor Romney’s choice in a running mate will be is a complete and utter waste of time. Especially when considering the many hours a week devoted to this one topic in radio and television talk shows. That said, I believe there are two exceptions to this assertion, both of which I consider to be of minimal value. The two exceptions are:
- Entertainment Value
- Potential Candidate Response Value
First — the entertainment value. This is the main reason we see all the public speculation and discussion. We all enjoy speculating about everything. It is fun to think about who might be catapulted from a given strata to number two! I love the speculation myself. Heck, Nate developed our site’s “Veep Madness” awhile back — It is brilliant and fun! I see all the public speculation about the veep choice much like using Instagram (I just got it on my Droid). It is fun, a novelty, and a complete waste of time, except for the entertainment value. It is much like watching Modern Family. There is no value in spending time watching Modern Family except being with those you love and to laugh, right?
Second — the potential candidate response value. Since so many possible veep candidates are asked the question, one of them might say something really stupid like, “Are you kidding me? I would love to be picked as vice president by Mitt…I think I am the best person in all of America for that position!” So, there is a little value in the public discussion on this point — very little and that value is as a negative determinant.
Do you trust Governor Romney’s judgment in this decision? I do. What person alive has better analytic skills than Governor Romney? What about judgment? Exactly. Do you think the person he ultimately chooses will be properly vetted? Okay then. What value is there in all the public debate and speculation? There is none. It is pure entertainment value. That’s it. Am I right? Am I wrong?
Look what Karl Rove wrote in the every first three paragraphs of his latest Wall Street Journal opinion piece:
We’ve entered the silly season when vast numbers of words will be expended on who Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate should be. Since the actual announcement is likely to be made shortly before the Aug. 31 GOP convention, we’ll have to endure three-and-a-half months of pundits handicapping prospects.
This exercise is largely useless. Who thought at this point in 2000 that the vice-presidential nominees would be Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, or in 2008 Sarah Palin and Joe Biden?
The person who matters most in this decision, Mr. Romney, appears to be approaching it with appropriate seriousness, appointing a longtime trusted aide, Beth Myers, to vet possible running mates.
I think Rove is wrong on one point. The exercise is not entirely “useless.” There is entertainment value, right? I mean the sitcom Modern Family makes a lot of money and Instagram is worth $1 billion — so there is value — its not entirely useless! I love to disagree with Karl Rove! Here are two of my favorite lines from Rove’s Op-Ed:
Having played a role in this process, I know that if done well this will be a political proctology exam for each individual considered. [...] This is not an activity for the squeamish or reticent.
Entertaining! And to the point of having almost no influence whether a presidential candidate will win or lose the election?
Running mates haven’t decided an election in more than a half-century. For example, research by Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, political scientists at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that the net impact of the vice-presidential picks in 2008 was roughly one-half of one point and is generally less than one percentage point. Presidential elections are rarely that close.
So why do we all spend hours and hours speculating on something of no value? His last sentence wraps the piece well:
There’s a lesson there for Mr. Romney. Choose the best person for the job. Leave the politics to the staff.
Three days ago, Vice President Cheney said this:
“I think the single most important criteria has to be the capacity to be president – that’s why you pick them,” Cheney said. “[The selection] gives the public a chance to see what you’re like.”
In the Economist article, “Enough to make you veep,” it states,
All the evidence, says Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution, is that Americans vote for presidents and are uninfluenced by who will be vice-president. [...] In general, the vice-presidential choice affects the outcome only insofar as it gives voters useful information about the chooser.
The Economist makes their prediction, but since it is all for entertainment, I will let you read it on your own. I will however end on this serious note. To Cheney’s point above — to which I strongly agree — if the capacity to be president is the most important criterion, then why would we pick a Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio? Most of us that have been promoting Governor Romney for POTUS, have written for years that it makes no sense at all to put forward a non-executive politician for president. I argued vehemently against Senators Obama and McCain because they were mere Senators. I argued here against Gingrich and Santorum because they had no executive experience and were largely career politicians. So why choose untested, non-executives for veep? The Economist ends with this thought:
That is why Paul Ryan, the Republicans’ budget wunderkind in the House of Representatives, may be a step too far to the wild side for the cautious Mr Romney. The Wisconsin congressman’s fans see him as a future president, but he has yet to run for a statewide office, and the Democrats would call him too wet behind the ears.
I think Marco Rubio is a great leader. He really is. However, rarely do Americans elect a U.S. Congressman or Senator as POTUS. Why then would it make sense to choose a veep whose depth of experience is largely from Congress and politics and who is without executive experience?
There I go — speculating! (but I love it!) BTW, Nate will soon post VEEP MADNESS again with the latest results!
“A lot of our entertainment throws into detail the stagnation and illness of how we live today — it’s sad and it’s sick… and it’s profitable.” ~ Heather Donahue
Follow Twitter: @viclundquist