It´s pouring outside, and so as much as I´m looking forward to leftover lasagna (you really have no idea) I´d rather not leave the friendly confines of Casa Central until it settles down. So, I guess that means I´m back to my Veep candidate profiles. By popular demand, the first obviously must be KS from KS. So, here we go.
1) Good President? One of TIME´s 5 best governors. One of Governing magazine´s best public officials in 2001 (as KS Insurance Commissioner). 8 years as a legislator. A budget balancer, an insurance industry reformer. She would be an awesome president.
2) New face of the party? Hell ya. She´s liberal as hell (raised taxes to boost education funding, vetoed coal plants, vetoed concealed-carry, opposes the death penalty, and gets Ds from the Cato Institute). And at the same time, she´s managed to build a large and diverse coalition of support (in Kansas!, where apparently there isn´t as much the matter as Thomas Frank thinks). She´s also brilliant and clearly knows how to get shit done. What isn´t there to like about the image of our party as progressive, competent and still normal?
3) Other stuff. Does she help the ticket? Well, that I´m not so sure of. I highly doubt we´re gonna win in Kansas (and if we do, their 6 electoral votes won´t be what puts us over). She might help marginally in other midwestern states, but I´m doubtful. And I don´t accept the Mauney thesis that old women will stay home if there´s no woman on the ticket after Clinton´s historic run. Old people do nothing BUT vote. I just don´t see them as the model of disaffected voters. Now, the Cooper thesis (same link) that old women might vote for someone of their generation rather than the young black fella holds some water with me. It´s part of why I was such a big Ted Strickland fan, and still a Joe Biden fan. Now whether Sebelius would be the better agent to bring back those old Democrats, either because most of them are women - for which I have no evidence -, or that the women will be easier to bring back - which is certainly plausible, or that there is something else about her that helps to soften the blow of a young black man more than other could, is something about which we can only speculate. But were I to list the top candidates who could help us with old people based solely on my own intuition, she would be at or near the top of that list. On a related note, Yglesias finds empirical evidence for the Cooper-Mauney thesis. Of course, I also have to mention that she looks younger than her 60 years and having built her lengthy resume entirely in Kansas, bears the clear mark of a D.C. outsider. Both characteristics reinforce Obama´s strengths.
My verdict: He could certainly make a worse pick. I´m not sure that she brings anything concrete to the ticket, but nobody out there really does now that Strickland is gone. Beyond the short-term political stuff, she´s be a good potential president, a great face for the party in 4-8 years, and a great asset to have on hand in the push for universal healthcare. On that last point, if she´s not VP, I really hope either she or Daschle gets HHS. For now, she deserves a spot on the shortest of short lists.
Now, start debating again! Go! Fight!