Joe Biden says that he will reveal his choice of vice-presidential running mate next week. Is there any point in speculating on who that choice might be? Not really, but it’s fun, so let’s go.
First, let’s be clear: who Biden chooses really is important. Because of his age, there is a non-remote chance that Biden will be unable to serve out his term, or that he will not run for a second term. So, his vice president will have a very decent chance of becoming president. That simple reality will not be lost on the voters. For that reason, the veep candidate will have a more than usual impact on the electability of the ticket. The various studies finding that the choice of running mate doesn’t matter that much for the success of the ticket don’t so much apply when the presidential candidate is 77 years old.
I will also be clear that my own choice would be Elizabeth Warren. Of all the women I will discuss in this post, she is simply the best. Warren is dynamic, full of ideas and truly principled and dedicated to significant, necessary policy change. Her presidency would pose a genuine threat to entrenched privilege in our economy, starting with Wall Street and Silicon Valley. But I don’t think she will get the nod from Biden. Biden and Warren seem to get along well personally, which is very much in her favor. But the pragmatic reason for naming Warren—to buttress Biden’s support on the party’s left—is surely waning. As the horrors of the Trump presidency become more glaringly evident with each passing week, I don’t think there can be many lefty diehards who will still refuse to vote for Biden. He can take the left for granted.
Long before the identity of the Democratic presidential nominee became clear, I firmly believed that if the winner were a white male, he would be obliged to choose a woman of color as his running mate. That simply reflects the political demographics of the Democratic Party: African Americans are its single largest solid constituency, and women have had an outsized role in the resistance to Trump. So, I’m going to discuss six women of color mentioned as possible choices for Biden. These are all very impressive women, although none is completely without liabilities. In ascending order (in my judgment) of their probability of being chosen:
Stacy Abrams is the tremendously attractive Georgian who lost a close race for governor in 2018. I hope she has a great political future, but she lacks the experience at the national level to be a really credible potential president.
Rep. Karen Bass (Ca.) does have experience in national politics, but a comment she made on Fidel Castro’s death that suggested insufficient hostility to the late dictator could hurt her in Florida, a state the Dems naturally want to carry.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) is a war veteran who lost both of her legs in Iraq. She has been forceful and outspoken in her contempt for Trump. Americans love war veterans but would they want their president to be a female double amputee? (I don’t mean should they but would they.)
Rep. Val Demings got some favorable exposure during the Trump impeachment process, but she’s an ex-cop who was noticeably soft on police misconduct during her tenure as Orlando police commissioner. That should be a negative in this era of BLM, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt a black woman.
Sen. Kamala Harris, like Demings, has a record of repressed zeal in prosecuting police (and other bad guys’) misconduct. But, notwithstanding her unsuccessful bid for the presidential nomination, I think she is a very effective campaigner and presents a very presidential image: tough and well-poised. I can easily see her taking down Mike Pence in debate.
Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser and UN ambassador, lacks experience in domestic policy, but her foreign policy experience far exceeds all the others’. On paper, she is superbly qualified, and she is known to be close to Biden. I’m not a fan of Rice’s. She is a fairly conventional product of the US foreign policy establishment who doesn’t seriously question the necessity for the active, global projection of American power. She was usually on the hawkish side in the foreign policy counsels of the Obama administration. I can’t see her cutting and slashing our bloated “defense” budget. But, unfortunately, these wouldn’t count as negatives with Biden.
So there you have it: I’m calling it for Rice. If she gets the nod, you’ll think I’m a genius. If she doesn’t, well, who’s gonna remember this post anyway?