It's speedmating, readers! The weekend's New Republic has a big veep-speculation package and Megan and I — well, mostly Megan — read it so you don't have to! Sad notes: they don't think Hillary's in the running; Satan conquerer Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, is not profiled. But Ed Rendell is! Rendell's sick jokemaking, Mike uckabee's guitar, Tim Pawlenty's "plush" mullet and Jim Webb's (invariably described as "scrappy") Scots-Irish upbringing are belabored; Sam's Club, cheap chardonnay and What's The Matter With Kansas are invoked; add a scene at an outsourced meatpacking plant and a few nights at various American Legion outposts and you've got one rollicking serenade to all the folksily vapid traditions, accessories and consumer goods that make representative democracy so great. That and Geraldine Ferraro's fascinating rationale for voting McCain, with me and the admittedly glamorous Megan Carpentier after the jump.
MOE: So should we slog through the Veeps today? is anything else happening?
MEGAN: Yeah, we can start with veeps, want to go Dem or Republican firsties?
MOE: I'm sending you TNR. I will admit to having not read long past Ed Rendell, but I'm calling it up again.
MEGAN: Yeah, I sadly read all of those this weekend, including David Frum's bullshit piece on "how" McCain should choose a Veep (hint: even the ones that don't win go on to be President some day, what a terrible thought) and that ends with this gem:
I have my own personal nomination for vice president for McCain. It's Rudy Giuliani, precisely because he shares the vision of a practical, reforming, war- winning Republican Party that inspires John McCain, plus the stronger-than- usual grounds for hoping that he might be the rare candidate who can make a difference in an essential state—in this case, New Jersey.
MEGAN: The fact that I continued reading the rest of the profiles after that is a sign of my dedication to our readers, for real. Wetlands was less perverse.
MOE: I'm actually reading Frum's piece now. Uhhhh, news you can't use: Garrett Hobart was William McKinley's VP…something something C-Span, VP candidates never deliver voters…blah.
MEGAN: Right. And let's get that Giuliani guy back. Barf.
MOE: Also, how did Mike Bloomberg get on "both Barack Obama and John McCain's vice-presidential shortlists"? Is this true?
MEGAN: I think that's bullshit.
MEGAN: Obama needs a New Yorker? Please. I mean, Bloomie spent 5 minths trying to gin up enough national press to get enough name recognition to make a run at it and couldn't manage. The last thing McCain needs with social conservations already starting to defect is to put a non-Zell Miller, non-Joe Lieberman former Democrat from New York City on the ticket.
MOE: I like this lede re Huck Yeah:
If the first rule of picking a running mate is to risk as little harm to the ticket as possible, then Mike Huckabee shouldn't be John McCain's first choice for veep—or his second, third, or fourth, for that matter.
He is the GOP equivalent of Ed Rendell! Although Ed could probs use some of his dieting tips. And you can file the rest of this piece into "Quirky pol derangedly beloved by numerous members of the media, who have filed away several hundred thousand words of anecdote — and travel expenses — that will go to waste if editors don't redeem this "possible VP" angle in critical pre-Convention window of time.
MEGAN: But didn't you hear? He saved someone's life this weekend. He's obviously ordained by God or something. He's the actual Messiah. What has Obama ever done?
"I'm glad that Mike was in the right place at the right time and continued to lead by example," former South Carolina Lt. Gov. candidate Mike Campbell told The Palmetto Scoop. "We all know that [Huckabee] is pro-life, and once again he has lived up to it."
The newspaper noted that Pittenger apparently suffers from acid reflux, which likely caused the incident to occur. It added that Huckabee, who is also known for losing 110 pounds and promoting healthy living, was trained as an EMT in college and this may not be the first time he's sprung to action when needed.
Are they subtly suggesting a little experience with bulimia might have saved a life?
MOE: Also, Pawlenty. The thing is called "Extreme Makeover," it addresses his "proletarian chic," and you can't see it on the site, but in print it's adorned by a picture that just makes you think: that is a rather aristocratic nose on that guy.
MOE: But genes can be so deceiving! He likes to perform "headlocks" and go to bars and such.
Pawlenty will be the first presidential running mate to have worn a mullet into middle age.
MOE: Oh my god, and more on the hair.
At 47, he is lean and vigorous, with plush brown hair.
MEGAN: Dude, it's Minnesota. Of course he's all down home like. I love, however, where he's drinking: at an American Legion Hall. The first bar I ever spent any time at at the tender age of 16 was a VFW bar and I am pretty sure they would've served me but I didn't drink and I had to drive home from there but it was shady, dude.
MEGAN: Anyone else think Noam has a man crush on Pawlenty?
MOE: Did you read the Vanity Fair man crush piece? I was going to post on it later. I hate trend pieces that are accurate.
MEGAN: I didn't, but if we're gonna talk man crushes, we should probably talk about Jim Webb now.
MEGAN: Except that the TNR piece is written by a woman. Goddammit, ruins my joke. Oh, well.
MOE: One thing, btw, I totally do not understand is how the "Axis of Arugula" enemies over at Fox News have remained so oblivious to how thorougly their beloved blue collar culture has totally been co-opted by the elite. The American Legion is like, the epicenter of the scene!
MEGAN: Because the Enemies of Arugula are too busy dining at [insert name of trendy NYC eatery here] to bother checking out the American Legion or VFW bar, not that they could get in because you generally have to be a vet or a friend of a vet and, well, you know. Fox News.
MOE: Like right wing blogger Dorothy King re her Obamaconservatism, who is referenced in a Bartlett piece:
Do I now, as a newly minted Obamaphile liberal elitist, have to serve my guests Chablis? Or would any old chardonnay do? Must it be arugula for the salad; or would lamb's lettuce, dandelion and little gems in hazelnut oil be okay? What about desert? I had planned to make a chocolate soufflé cake. But baking ... are Obamacons allowed to bake, or is that too conservative?
Um, Dorothy: if you really want to pass for bleeding-heart, cupcakes and Pabst! Pretend like you're in Kansas. Ohhhhh, bad pun. Srsly though.
MOE: I didn't even know chablis was supposedly nicer than chardonnay. I just buy this shit by the price point.
MEGAN: Also, wait, isn't Hillary the feminist candidate? Isn't Hillary the one who doesn't bake?
MEGAN: Chablis is like what people drank in the 70s. And it's sweeter. Chardonnay is the new Chablis, it's what people buy when they don't know what to buy or drink or even what they like.
MEGAN: It's 90% mass market, dumbed down, oaked-up crap that people think they're supposed to like.
MEGAN: Wow, I think I might have stronger opinions about wine than I do about VPs. Especially if that VP is Sam Nunn. Boooring. Also not gonna happen.
MOE: That's totes what I thought. Like, chablis was advertised in all those old Cosmos Anna got for us this one time. Regardless, you notice how the last desperate shreds of this phony elitism-populism thing are sort of a theme of this issue? Hence the Jim Webb hardon:
He embodies the liberal fantasy laid out by Thomas Frank in What's the Matter With Kansas?: that blue-collar whites will stop being mad at liberals for frowning at their guns and start being mad at conservatives for raping their pocketbooks.
MOE: Here's the link.
MEGAN: Blue collar white semi-conservatives might well get mad about their pocketbooks, but they vote with our uteri. I mean, they don't vote with their own because they don't have them or would totes never get an abortion, not that they would talk about, anyway. Guns for all, abortions for none! And fuck the economy, that's the Democrats' fault.
MOE: Like, personally, I am liberal as fuck, and my dad is a conservative, and he has fine tastes and reads the classics and knows about wine and shit, and I am the one who clocks in at 7:30 after grabbing an egg sandwich and a Post, and I guess that's how it should be?
MEGAN: Well, I'm not quite as liberal as you I'd say, but I know about wine! And I read the classics. Sometimes. The last book I read the whole way through was The Master and Marguerita and I swear I'm gonna finish Crime and Punishment and Baal and Amerika and Tropic of Cancer this year. I swear. But I won't be voting for McCain, that's for sure.
MOE: Oh my god I just saw that joke in the Gchat screen lolol. Readers, why don't you decide?
Megan: dude. i need an opinion whether I should write this.: Wait, dude, there's an even more horrible takeaway joke from Dorothy: She's trying to say that a world with Obama is a world without chocolate. is that past the line?
No lady, I'm just drooling right now and I'm not sure why…
MEGAN: Fine, I'll bake cupcakes next time I visit. Chocolate ones. Soufflé doesn't travel well.
MEGAN: Ok, we keep getting distracted by other stuff, so let me give the run down on VP as I see it and I'm sure I'll be wrong because I always am about these things, but whatever.
MOE: Um, I'm interrupting the veepstakes magic 8 ball chat just a sec for an obligatory moment in Geraldine Ferraro, oy she is nuts.
Geraldine Ferraro dismissed the idea in a conversation with me last week - noting that these voters had already voted for an anti-abortion rights Republican before: Ronald Reagan. More, she said, these sophisticated voters know that Democrats will keep control of Congress no matter what, blocking any extremist nominees for the Supreme Court.
Oh yes that is some very sophisticated reasoning Ferraro! If by "sophisticated" you mean impenetrably self-sabotagingly warped!
MEGAN: Oh, right, like how the Dems blocked Alito and Roberts? Fucking a, like, she's literally trying out reasons for them not to vote Obama. WTF is wrong with her. Ok, back to veeps.
MEGAN: Republican: It's not going to be Huckabee, I'll bet he annoys McCain and he's no upside with the fiscal conservatives. McCain might swallow it and pick Romney. He won't take Crist (gay), he won't take Jindal (won't pass vetting, I'd bet), he can't take Rice (those naughty lesbian rumors and all).
MEGAN: Side note: John McCain's campaign has the most high-level gay staff and advisers of any campaign so far this year. Oh, and the Log Cabin Republicans who declined to endorse Bush twice, I have it on good authority, will endorse McCain despite his record on gay issues because he once voted against the federal marriage amendment. But he's still not going to take Crist.
MOE: Don't you think Rice's bigger problem is being, um, friends with Bush?
MEGAN: Not when he needs to appeal to Bush's voters. What, like she and he disagree on Iraq?
MOE: No, see: Bush doesn't have any more voters.
MOE: Seriously, I don't think Tom Davis was hyperbolizing.
MEGAN: Anyway, so I think Pawlenty's definitely on the short list. I think he's vetting Carly Fiorina in the press the way he did Rice.
MEGAN: I don't think he was hyperbolizing, either, but I think McCain's going to have to tack right now that Bob Barr's the libertarian, he's going to pick up $$ and voters.
MOE: And even if he did, it is not a prim black brainy Ferragamo-clad warmonger they were voting for.
MEGAN: And who's left on the right? The 27% of people or so that still actually support Bush, and you gotta know those people are not big McCainiacs.
MEGAN: Anyway, so the other thing that Attackerman were talking about this weekend that would probs make sense in McCain's warped mind was Lieberman. And that would be a pro-war, all-war ticket with this semblance of bipartisanship that I think would totally lose and Liebarman's a shitty VP candidate so that's the one I'm sort of rooting for.
MOE: You know, we never hit Rendell, but the lede is all you need. Rendell is appearing at a rally with Louis Farrakhan. Buzz Bissinger is a city hall reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer following Rendell for six years because he thinks municipal politicians will actually be able to learn something from the experience of Philadelphia or something.
I was writing a book on Rendell at the time. Allowed into his inner sanctum for close to six years, I found Rendell's stance on Farrakhan important and was eager to hear what he had been thinking during the rally. He did not disappoint: "As I sat there, I said to myself, 'Wouldn't it be great if someone burst in and gunned me down, because then Buzz would at least have an ending to his book.'"
MEGAN: Oh, great, just with this campaign needs, two people who the Republicans can associate with Louis Farrakhan. Also, Rendell got on TV last week and said unequivocally (unlike the rest of the Veepstakes candidates) that he doesn't want the gig because he doesn't like working for other people or trying to spin shit.
MOE: So dude, do you think it will be Jim Webb? And if so, does that mean we have to read his books?
MEGAN: I think if it is, we do, but I don't think it will be. I'm sure he's on the short list, but how do they take a 1st term Senator (from a state where the seat might swing back) with no domestic policy experience who is a former Republican with a shitty record on women's issues and make him Obama's VP in this climate?
MOE: Little known fact: Anna's dad is apparently obsessed with Scot-Irish history. And all I know of the climate is that it is hot. And that fucking Geraldine Ferraro is voting for McCain anyway.
MEGAN: A month ago, sure, I can see him topping out the list, no doubt, but I think the surging supposed feminists (I'm sorry, I ain't calling anyone who is threatening to vote for McCain or write-in Hillary to turn the election over to him an actual feminist) who are pissed at Obama over sexism in the media and among some of his supposed supporters makes it much less likely.
MEGAN: But I think he's on the short list. I know Clinton is, though I'm on record as being confused why she'd give up power in the Senate for what is basically a powerless ceremonial role (And HRC-as-VP people, don't give me "VP is head of the Senate" crap, because that's not how it works, Cheney casts a tie-breaking vote once in a blue and doesn't have any actual power in the institution, look it up, thanks).
MEGAN: McCaskill's seat could go red, my Steve mentioned Landrieu but that's the same deal, ditto Klobuchar. Napolitano hates McCain and would totally attack him, which is good, Sebelius for sure. I'm still feeling like Feingold could be a dark horse but am constantly told that he's too liberal (which is actually the point of taking him), Tim Kaine wants it but he has weird eyebrows. Edwards doesn't, Richardson is grabby with the ladies and, fuck it, he really should just announce a shadow cabinet because there's be someone in there for everyone in the Democratic party and no one would be able to vote against every major Democratic figure.