Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Putting the Vice in the Vice Presidential Race

OK, it was close, a dead heat. That was Iowa. New Hampshire is Bernie Sanders country. So what can Hillary do? Wait for victories in those other primaries? If you were advising Hillary on the choice for a running mate – knowing the presidential race is hardly in the bag – whom would you recommend? She needs a new message to distract from the email ‘virus’ (not that kind of virus!) that seems to be a never-ending infection to her campaign.
She probably can hold off any GOP nominee among all but the most conservative women, but she needs power in two swing states, Ohio and Florida. Does she also need support with Latino/Hispanic voters? Is her being a woman a minus with misogynist voters for whom terrorism and military competency issues are at the top of their list? The latter is the message we heard loud and clear from lots of older Iowa males, but they probably wouldn’t vote for her anyway.
She might make a run at GOP moderate and presidential candidate, John Kasich (first left above), whose debate politics seem more consistent with Blue Dog Democrats than the Tea Party/Evangelical Base that seems to be defining the Republican platform no matter who the GOP nominee might be. But while that former Ohio governor might resonate well with Ohioans, he would have to switch parties, and the liberal side of the Democratic Party would be seething. Moderates across the land would be cheering at this apparent move away from the leftist-Bernie Sanders influence on party choices, but would too many Dems just stay away from the voting booth in protest? OK, this is a very long shot.
The hot rising stars on the Democratic Hispanic side of the ledger have to be the Castro brothers, Julián and Joaquín (second and third left above, respectively), from San Antonio, Texas. Twins. Both Stanford undergrads and Harvard Law School-educated lawyers, they are wildly charismatic politicians in one of the most conservative states in the land, one that will turn purple and then maybe blue as the Latino population becomes the overwhelming majority in the state.
Julián served three terms as Mayor of San Antonio (2009-14), and since June of 2014, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban and Urban Development in the Obama cabinet. Joaquín moved up from being a representative in the Texas Legislature (2003-13) to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013. They are young (born in 1974) and would thus serve as a youthful counterpart to the older Hillary.
Unlike the Cuban ethnicity of both Ted Cruz (a Texas GOP Senator) and Marco Rubio (a Florida GOP Senator), and although their U.S. family roots trace back to a 1920 immigration and notwithstanding their last name, the brothers Castro look to northern Mexico for their ethnic ties. Given that Hispanic voters are overwhelmingly linked to Mexico and parts south, they have an edge as sharing the Latino heritage that sets them apart from a very different Cuban-American agenda. Not to mention how much the GOP has generally alienated the Hispanic community with their anti-immigrant thrust.
But there is an entirely different category of vice presidential candidate that could easily surprise a lot of traditionalists in the Democratic Party. Given the national priority against terrorism, assuming that issue stays atop the voters’ focus list through the November election, it may be wise for Hillary to look to the military for possible running mates. With a four star general or admiral in the mix, it would be exceptionally difficult for any Republican to challenge her administration’s military credentials. While there are number of choices, there are two more obvious players who would fit the bill fairly well.
I’m going to jump past the more obvious choice, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal (third from the right above), even though his Special Forces and Ranger’s service combined with his overall command of all coalition forces in Afghanistan look great on paper. When he bad-mouthed the president, he effectively ended his military career. While that may seem like a valued “statement” as Hillary tries to distance herself from many of the president’s policies, his willingness to defy his boss makes adding him to the ticket perhaps a bit too risky to chance.
The two choices I think are more realistic, both Naval officers at four star rank, are Admiral Samuel Locklear, III (second from right above) – the outgoing Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command – and retired Admiral Bill McRaven (last to the right above) – our top dog in the U.S. Special Operations Command before he left the service. Both men have credentials that would boost any presidential candidacy. They bring a lot to the table.
Let’s start with Locklear: “The outgoing commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Locklear has recent experience commanding U.S. forces in high-profile operations and commanding a strategically vital unified combatant command. Locklear served alongside Army Gen. Carter Ham commanding forces in the American-led intervention in Libya in March 2011. From there, he was appointed commander, U.S. Pacific Command, overseeing the Obama administration’s strategic pivot to the Pacific region. Locklear’s area of operations includes China, the Korean Peninsula, India, Australia, and Japan. In his tenure, he has overseen tense relations in the region and multiple instances of disaster relief.
“In a move that could endear him to Democratic voters, in March 2013, Locklear gave to students at Harvard and Tufts universities that made national news when he described climate change or global warming as his biggest worry… ‘People are surprised sometimes. You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level,” Locklear said. “Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.’” TaskandPurpose.com, May 14th.
McRaven’s bio is equally impressive: “A former four-star Navy SEAL, McRaven is the real deal. He retired in 2014 as commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. He had previously commanded Joint Special Operations Command, and was the forward commander for the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, an operation he was pivotal in planning and executing. From Jalalabad, Afghanistan, McRaven oversaw the operation and relayed information back to the White House situation room.
“After his retirement, he became chancellor of the University of Texas system. In this role, McRaven overseas nine academic universities and six health institutions with more than 200,000 students; 90,000 employees; and a $25 billion endowment. McRaven himself is a graduate of the University of Texas’ flagship campus in Austin. In 2014, McRaven delivered the commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin, telling graduating seniors 10 things the Navy SEALs taught him about how to change the world.
“Last year, McRaven dismissed speculation that he could be the vice presidential candidate for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner. Those rumors, his well-respected legacy as a flag officer, and his current role in higher education, would make him an intriguing political player.” TaskandPurpose.com. While I am sure there are lots of other terrific choices, I think the gentlemen above merit special consideration. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
I’m Peter Dekom, and as many Americans are running away from training and experience in government for their political choices, should we really take a chance with a neophyte taking on the greatest challenges of the modern era via ‘on the job’ training?

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