And the winner is…

Well, my vacation seems to be going very well. I told myself (and others) that I’d only post if there was a big news story about to break. And since Senator Kerry seems set to announce who he wants Democrats to nominate as Vice President during the convention, I suppose that qualifies.

There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the mounting “evidence” that Senator Kerry has settled on Rep. Dick Gephardt as his choice. I say “evidence” because this selection process has been unusually secretive, and I don’t expect it to change. Moreover, as Josh Marshall (among others) have stated, the Vice Presidential nominee has been someone who was unexpected–especially over the last fifty or so years:

1952: Eisenhower picks 39-year-old Richard Nixon. Stevenson picks John J. Sparkman of Alabama. Obvious choices: Earl Warren (R), Averell Harriman (D).

1956: Stevenson declines to announce a choice before the convention, and instead allows the convention to pick the VP nominee. A classic political battle ensues between Estes Kefauver of TN (who lost to Stevenson in the primaries) and a young up-and-coming politician you might have heard of, named John F. Kennedy. Kefauver wins the nod. Obvious choices: Frank Lausche, Averell Harriman (D)

1960: In a nod to political necessity, Kennedy picks LBJ. Meanwhile, Vice President Nixon selects former MA Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (whom Kennedy whipped to win his Senate seat) as his No. 2. Obvious choices: Rockefeller, Goldwater (R); Stuart Symington, Hubert Humphrey (D).

1964: LBJ selects Hubert Humphrey as his running mate. And Barry Goldwater shocks everyone by picking an utterly obscure NY Congressman–William Miller–as his VP choice. Obvious choices: William Scranton, James Rhodes (R); Bob Kennedy, Gene McCarthy (D)

1968: Nixon picks Agnew, who no one had ever thought of as a national leader, while Humphrey picks Ed Muskie of Maine–again, not the expected choice. Obvious choices: Reagan, Romney, Mark Hatfield of OR, Charles Percy of IL (R); Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Gene McCarthy (D).

1972: McGovern selects Tom Eagleton; then, after Eagleton’s history of mental illness surfaces and forces him to quit the ticket, McGovern chooses Sargent Shriver. Neither one would have been an obvious choice. Obvious choices: Kennedy, Muskie, John Lindsay (D).

1976: Carter, after a fairly public process, decides upon Walter Mondale; Ford dumps VP Nelson Rockefeller in favor of KS Senator Bob Dole. Again, neither was the obvious choice. Obvious choices: Kennedy, John Glenn, Jerry Brown (D); Elliot Richardson, Rockefeller, and Reagan (R).

1980: Finally, a Presidential nominee picks someone everyone had expected all along–Reagan chooses George Bush. But he almost went with the other obvious choice, Gerry Ford.

1984: Mondale picks another obscure NY Congressman–and this time, it’s a woman, Geraldine Ferraro. He also gets wiped out Goldwater-style. Coincidence? You be the judge. Obvious choices: Gary Hart, John Glenn, Dianne Feinstein.

1988: Dukakis picks Lloyd Bentsen–not a name that was on many lists. Meanwhile, George Bush’s selection process is so secretive that even though everyone swears that Bush has decided on Bob Dole, the end result is Dan Quayle. Sound familiar? Obvious choices: Bob and Liddy Dole (R); John Glenn, Mario Cuomo, Bob Graham (D).

1992: Clinton picks Al Gore–in retrospect, the natural choice, but at the time, a surprise. Obvious choices: Lee Hamilton, Bob Graham, Mario Cuomo, Bob Kerrey, Bill Bradley (D).

1996: Dole shocks everyone by picking a man he cannot stand–Jack Kemp–when everyone said that he would likely pick either John McCain or Connie Mack of FL. Obvious choices: you just read them, plus Lamar Alexander.

2000: Gore gives in to the Joementum by tapping Lieberman, while Bush ends up picking the man in charge of vetting his VP selections, Dick Cheney. Obvious choices: John Kerry, John Edwards, Bob Kerrey (D); Frank Keating, John Ashcroft, John Danforth (R).

All this to say that if you think Kerry has settled on Gephardt or Edwards, you’ll likely be surprised. Based on this, my gut tells me that the pick will be someone we haven’t heard much about.

Or I could be wrong. Either way, like Kos says, whoever the Senator ends up picking will be a darn sight better than the current occupant of No. 1 Observatory Circle–so I wouldn’t waste much time wailing and gnashing your teeth. Use them instead to gnash the other guys.

UPDATE: This just in from the Drudge Report

Kerry intends to begin calling the major candidates in contention around 7 a.m. Tuesday to give them the news of his choice…

Kerry’s aides reported placards had been printed with three versions of the Democratic ticket: Kerry-Edwards, Kerry-Gephardt and Kerry-Vilsack, though they acknowledged that Kerry could still surprise even them with a different selection…

Kerry will appear at a big morning rally in Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh and announce choice at 9 a.m. Tuesday, before flying to Indianapolis.

The running mate’s political director would be Linda Moore, who was President Bill Clinton’s deputy political director and then Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh’s deputy chief of staff….

Well, looks like I was wrong, thanks to the placards. All three of these guys are guys that have been talked about. Personally, we’re rooting for Johnny Sunshine here in Casa Arkhangel.


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