August 30, 2008
HOW TO ASSESS VICE PRESIDENTS: The most important thing about a Vice Presidential candidate — as with a Presidential candidate — is fitness to be President. But, since most Vice Presidents never become President, the most significant impact is usually elsewhere: The running mate gets to put a lot of his/her people into political appointments in the new administration. From this perspective, Biden and Palin look really different. Biden is an oldtime Washington insider, with a large network of friends and supporters, meaning that the people he brings in are likely to be familiar faces (as, for that matter, are most of the people Obama is looking to for advice now, and will presumably appoint if elected). So the political appointments under an Obama-Biden administration will probably look a lot like the Clinton administration.
McCain has been in DC for a long time, too, of course. But who would Palin bring in? She doesn’t have that kind of a political network, and while she might bring a few people from Alaska, there won’t be very many of those. So who will she bring in if elected? My guess is that she’ll defer more to McCain than a more established pol would, but my guess is that she’ll also favor bringing in more evangelicals and social-conservative types, and she may (I don’t know) have more of a network in those circles than she has in the way of a political network. Something to consider, anyway.