For any of you who missed Friday’s reporting of the Romney VP whisperings, Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under the Bush Administration, could potentially be at the front of the pack. We can all imagine how exhausting, yet important, the VP Candidate vetting process is for the Romney Campaign. Even before Romney reaches out to discuss moving to our Nation’s Capital for the next four years in the very first conversation with a potential VP Candidate, the team will have spent countless hours debating, analyzing and postulating reaction to all different kinds of politicians–from the well established politician to the freshly minted Tea Party favorites.
The Vice President of the United States is an unusual, often times even undesired, political position. You are second in command to the greatest Super Power in the World, but you have little control over the administration’s (which by the way carries your name) direction in the event that you and your boss differ on any particular policy. And from the other perspective, you are responsible for standing behind the administration–and specifically the President’s politics–for better or worse.
The Vice President is also President pro tempore of the Senate, but who cares about that?
Most of this week’s sensationalism surrounding the Rice development relates directly to how this pick effects the Romney Campaign’s chance of winning the Presidential Election and less to do with how Rice, or any of the other candidates, would perform as Vice President, from a job interview standpoint.
This err of the public’s attention frustrated me during the last presidential election. Everyone talked incessantly about both candidates as people (i.e. the character debate), and the victors (the Obama supporters) always shied away from the conversation surrounding whether Obama would be an effective President (you know, the ‘job interview’ perspective). Instead, sensationalism coerced everyone to take their ‘eye off the ball’ and go ‘ga ga’ for the first Black presidential candidate–with charisma to boot! No one gave two thoughts to the fact that he was one of the shortest servicing Senators in the Congress, had little to no voting record as a State Senator or in other political offices. His college transcripts were never vetted, and now we know why–they are literally withheld from the public discourse on purpose by the Obama machine. Without focusing on the due diligence necessary to vet any politician for President of the United States of America, the Obama supporters fell in love with an image, or as Obama recently opined in an ABC interview “the story,” which he regrets not beefing up during his presidency.
The same distraction inevitably takes place with the Condi ‘vetting’. Most of us listen to the media droll on about how Ms. Rice, in her particular demographic, might better or worse Romney or Obama’s effort to win America’s heart. And the conversation goes on and on in complete vagaries with every comment qualified with, “Well, she is so darn smart–don’t you know, but I just [insert generality here].” “blah, blah, blah”
What about talking about what the Vice Present actually does–on the job or the campaign? With those perspectives defined, how does Condi stack up? What does her experience say about her personal ethical code? Is she someone that would support Romney on every position or would she make her disagreements known? Would she be a strong and influential VP, like Cheney? Or would she adopt the role of in-house campaigner, like Biden (I mean what does that guy actually do; what does Obama ever do for that matter?!)?
I would delight to see the conversation focus on these substantive questions and others like them instead of the normal media droll: “Well among black constituents….” “Well as a relic from the Bush years….”
Watch for those traps in the coming days. The old media loves to pose these abstract introductions and finish with a nicely wrapped generality to leave the viewer thoroughly distracted.
Most importantly, though, is for the Romney Team to keep their own eyes on the ball. Their vetting process should be more focused on the specific reasons for picking a particular running mate–not to speak to the old school media droll.