The approaching Veep-stakes

If the top of the ticket is failing to generate any interest in the presidential election campaign then all the leaves is the Vice President slots

Is the joke over?
Dr. James Boys
On 23 May 2012 11:46

Ok, hands up – who is already bored to tears with the presidential election season? Me too. Well the good news is that it will all be over in six months (okay, eight if you include the wait until Inauguration Day).

Why is it so boring? Well consider the candidates. Barack Obama is far from the dynamic figure of ‘change’ that he positioned himself as in 2008. He has aged visibly in the role and is failing to stoke the passions as once he did. Unable to run on a platform of ‘change’, he has chosen the rather uninspired ‘Forward’ slogan, which has gone down like a damp squib.

As a candidate he appears unwilling or unable to take credit for his 2 signature moments without them rebounding in his face: His health care reforms are being considered by the Supreme Court and could be rejected as being unconstitutional any day now, and his efforts to maximise the raid that killed bin Laden were scuttled by his inability to credit the work of those on the ground who actually carried out the raid. All in all, Obama is failing to cut an inspiring figure in US politics anymore. He may not be Jimmy Carter just yet, but the signs are worrying.

Faced off against the president is the Massachusetts moderate, Mitt Romney. Has anyone fallen asleep already? Those of you still with me will no doubt recall that this was the governor of Massachusetts who introduced a health care system so similar to that endorsed by the White House that it was referred to as ‘Romneycare’ by his Republican critics.

This is a Republican that is acceptable in Massachusetts. Is that enough to dispel any great passion amongst the Republican rank and file? Maybe, but of course we aren’t finished yet. He is a Mormon, which causes suspicion amongst some and finally he is the very personification of an old school insider politician: a governor and a son of a governor. This is not exactly the candidate that the Tea Party was hoping for and it is their activism that held so much promise for a potential Republican victory this November.

The candidates are currently running about even in a series of polls and a collective yawn can be heard across the land. They may even struggle to get voters to the polls in November.

So what is to be done? Policy announcements in an election year are not worth the paper they aren’t written on, so they can be discounted as a viable option. Nobody expects Obama to launch a war to secure his re-lection, so Iran can rest steady until the New Year.

If the top of the ticket is failing to generate any interest then all that leaves is the VP slot. Readers of The Commentator will no doubt be familiar with the HBO movie Game Change that aired recently and which did much to ridicule the Republican process in 2008 that resulted in the selection of Sarah Palin. Less well known is that the book this was drawn from was focused almost exclusively on the Obama-Hillary race with only a small section focused on the Republican VP process.

However, whilst the selection of Governor Palin provided career a high for Tina Fey and filled ample column inches around the world, the forgotten reality is that the Democratic choice didn’t work out too well either.

The initial reaction to Obama’s choice of Joe Biden was hardly euphoric, with many, myself included, asking how this choice demonstrated the much vaunted ‘change’ that Obama had campaigned on. Here in the UK, Biden was most known, if he was known at all, for plagiarising material lifted from Neil Kinnock, aka The Welsh Windbag and former Leader of the Labour Party, who was routinely trounced by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s – hardly a figure one might imitate in order to secure the White House.

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