Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vetting Candidates

From what little I’ve heard, the vetting process for picking the vice presidential candidate appears to be one of the most invasive procedures not involving body cavities. I can understand that. You don’t want to come up with the ideal second banana, only to have subsequent revelations of his, say, inappropriate text messages to minors suck the life out of your campaign.

It’s not just the vice presidential candidates either. I hear that the vetting process has become longer and more elaborate at all levels, as administrations use background checks and security clearance procedures to to eliminate any potential for betrayal, incompetence, and blackmail, as well as to satisfy other less legitimate purposes.

With one big exception: the presidential candidate him/herself.

The justification for this, is that the presidential candidate has his whole life, his heart and soul, dissected minutely and endlessly by the media, opposition research staff and, these days, the blogosphere. Sooner or later, the wayward reverend or the occasional zipper malfunction is bound to pop up, leaving the public to decide whether or not to give the candidate a pass.

The thing is, though, that once you are a candidate, you can try to spin, dissemble, outright lie your way out of your predicament, and some do succeed. In most jobs, the threshold for dismissal is higher than that for initial rejection, and the presidential candidacy is no different. Try this thought experiment. Imagine Bill Clinton auditioning for the vice presidential candidacy. Do you think for a moment that he would be selected if his personal problems were vetted by the presidential candidate’s team?


Ross said...

Would George W. Bush have been a VP candidate?

Jun Okumura said...

Yes, Ross. George W. Bush would have made an excellent Vice Presidential candidate:

George W. Bush: The Redemption Candidate

GWB has a compelling life story—forty years of wasted privilege, his soul lost once to demon rum yet redeemed by the power of the Book. As a born-again, certified teetotaling monogamist, GWB is a man that Christianists, the core of Republican grassroots support, cannot fail to love.

Wait, there’s more. Not quite the card-burnin’, Canada-defectin’, hardcore draft dodger, his recorded efforts to skirts the edges of decent behavior in his stint with the National Guard, provides him with a compelling narrative that resonates strongly with yet another large segment of the Republican constituency, the other 90% of the male boomers who used high draft numbers, student deferments, reserve duty and other artifices or simply benefited from high draft numbers to somehow end up not going to Vietnam —they’re now not quite sure how it happened; they probably think that they would have served if called, but hey, shit happens—but we’re damn proud of those boys who did serve. GWB is in stark contrast to people like John Kerry, and Max Cleland in particular, who painfully remind them that “heck no, you didn’t go”. Simply put, he’s a man they can look in the eye, without flinching.

As for the female vote, c’mon, anyone who can get sober, intelligent women like Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes and Douglas Feith to devote all their waking hours to his political wellbeing should be able to neutralize the Democrats’ traditional hold on women—I mean, how else did manage to kick Ann Richards’… you get the idea.

Finally, GWB gets bonus points for not quite outshining the Presidential candidate (whoever he/she may be), but more than making up for that with his easy, genuine affability. He’s the Quayle to Bush (Sr.), the Dale to Chip— and that’s a combo that’s hard to beat.

Yes, George W. Bush would have made an excellent Vice Presidential candidate. In fact, all things considered, he should have been the Vice Presidential candidate.