According to Politico, the phrase “incredibly boring white guy” is now part of the search criteria needed to qualify one for a place on Mitt Romney’s VP short list.
Of course, Romney’s desire for a running mate bearing this awkward description stems from the negative backlash suffered by Senator John McCain in 2008 after he selected Governor Sarah Palin as his “game-changing” VP candidate and then was pounded for the choice by the mainstream media.
Several very competent “incredibly boring white guys” (IBWGs) such as Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and South Dakota Senator John Thune have all had their national profiles raised recently, guaranteeing them a spot on the VP short list, but precisely because they are a group of IBWGs, the needle on the media excitement meter has scarcely moved a millimeter.
In seems that IBWGs are only exciting when one is in desperate need of an experienced heart surgeon or tax attorney — or if your name is George Clooney.
However, there is someone who holds high national stature and also happens to be an IBWG and who, if he agreed to be Romney’s running mate, might actually qualify as a “game changer.”
That person is David Petraeus.
Mr. Petraeus no longer holds the title of general because he has been very quietly working as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the Obama administration since September of 2011.
Serving in that capacity does not necessarily label Mr. Petraeus a Democrat — for when Petraeus was asked by his commander in chief to serve his country without a uniform, he responded as a patriot.
Back in April, 2011 when President Obama announced that General Petraeus was going to retire from the Army and become his CIA director, Reuters posted this interesting headline:
“President Barack Obama’s choice of General David Petraeus as CIA director will bolster his national security team with a Republican favorite who is sometimes seen as a future White House aspirant.”
The piece continued:
The pick put a quick end to occasional Washington speculation that the commanding general in Afghanistan might ride to the rescue of Republicans as a 2012 White House or vice presidential candidate against Obama.
Well, that “quick end” may in fact be more open-ended as Petraeus’ name seems to pop up more often lately, although it is still near the bottom on the list of potential Romney VPs.
Recently, a widely circulated piece appeared in Foreign Policy magazine, written by Paul Miller, a former White House and National Security advisor. Miller made the case for a Romney /Petraeus ticket with these arguments:
Petraeus has nearly universal name recognition and is one of the most well-respected figures in the country. A year ago only 11 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of him, according to Gallup, half that of (Gov. Chris) Christie. And as a non-partisan figure he has not been tarnished by the partisanship and mud-slinging of recent years. Additionally, Petraeus would bring foreign policy expertise to the ticket, balancing Romney’s focus on economic issues. If Obama really intends to claim that his foreign policy accomplishments should earn voters’ respect, there is no one in the country with more credibility than Petraeus to take Obama’s argument apart.
Petraeus’ name has not been in the news much lately because he has been busy quietly fighting the “War on Terror” that the Obama administration says is over. However, I agree with Miller and have long thought that Petraeus might be a good fit for Romney.
Here is an excerpt from a May 2011 piece I wrote with some early speculation about Romney’s VP choices, David Petraeus among them:
Romney’s selection of David Petraeus could possibly be a “game changer.”
Just imagine this scenario: General Petraeus is soon retiring from the Army to set up camp as director of the CIA, serving under President Obama.
So sometime in the middle of 2012, Director Petraeus has some “major policy disagreements” with the president and resigns his CIA post. Then he is suddenly available and Romney selects him as his surprise choice for VP.
Romney could definitely use the boost in the foreign policy area, especially when our nation might still be engaged in three unpopular wars. Petraeus would be a real asset to Romney and perhaps inject some positive energy into the ticket.
Now, a year later, we are engaged in only one very unpopular war, but there is still time for this scenario to unfold.
One could envision Petraeus resigning his post due to the recent revelation that White House operatives (ostensibly with the knowledge of the president) leaked for political gain classified information to the press about an al-Qaeda infiltrator who was working for Great Britain, not the CIA as was originally reported.
The entire operation about a new type of plane-threatening underwear bomb was exposed prematurely, threatening the life of the double-agent and damaging our nation’s relationships with the intelligence agencies of our allies.
Or there could be numerous other issues either known or unknown that might facilitate a decision by Director Petraeus to exit the Obama administration.
And if by chance Romney did choose Petraeus to be his running mate, one could only imagine that during the vice-presidential debate against Joe Biden a moderator might ask our sitting vice president the following question:
Recently captured documents revealed that Osama bin Laden wished to target airplanes carrying then General Petraeus and President Obama because he believed these assassinations would elevate an “utterly unprepared” Vice- President Joe Biden to the presidency and plunge the U.S. into crisis.
Mr. Vice-President, fortunately bin Laden’s wishful plans never went operational, but please comment on his thinking that you were “utterly unprepared” to be president of the United States.
OK, I admit it is highly unlikely that this question would ever be asked in the real vice-presidential debate, but it might make a great skit on Saturday Night Live.
With Biden being such a gaffe prone vice president, one forgets how in 2008 Senator Obama was widely applauded for choosing Senator Biden as his running mate because he needed Biden’s “foreign policy expertise” to balance the ticket.
Now in 2012, as the world grows increasingly dangerous, don’t completely rule out Romney tapping Petraeus for those exact same reasons.
There is even precedent for a former CIA director to be tapped as the vice-presidential candidate on a GOP ticket. Former President George H. W. Bush was CIA director in 1976 before Governor Ronald Reagan named Bush as his running mate in 1980.
Yet Petraeus, even with his action-packed “John Wayne”-like career and national name recognition, might still be characterized as an “incredibly boring white guy” with no fear of his overshadowing Romney.
But there also exists the possibility that Petraeus, as a bipartisan political newcomer, could be perceived as a welcome addition to Romney’s ticket with the potential of moving the excitement meter and gathering enough momentum to help carry some crucial swing state voters across the finish line for a Team Romney victory.