Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ignoring the obvious

CNN is all over the story today of Sen. Barack Obama beginning his VP search for the probable Democratic presidential ticket. But the network fails to mention any woman as a running mate, instead concentrating on the appeal to white, blue collar men.

Even PBS' Judy Woodruff, in an interview last night with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, didn't ask her about being Obama's running mate. That's at least what I can surmise from Bloomberg News' story on the interview.

Sure, Pelosi is the most powerful woman in the world -- yes, even more powerful than Oprah and Miley Cyrus(clothes on) -- and would not want to leave her position with an even greater Democratic majority coming in.

But, she will be forced to consider the good of the party, and Obama is going to need a lot of help from a running mate in the general election. All the males being cited only help in one state and with one constituency. Pelosi appeals to Catholics, of which she is one, and that will make a difference in Pennsylvania and Ohio. And, of course, she is a woman. And they do most of the voting in every state in this country.

Pelosi can be more powerful as VP, particularly with foreign policy as her trips to Syria, Iraq and Tibet already have shown. She can also most effectively steer Obama's legislative agenda through the Congress as Senate president with a vote on ties and with her long-time contacts in the House. I'm sure she is owed a lot of favors.

Pelosi told PBS that women won't suffer a "step back'' if Hillary Clinton does not get the Democratic nomination, and rebuffed the complaint of sexism in the presidential campaign: "A woman is down to the wire in contention for the presidential nominee. You know she still may win this -- but whatever the outcome, new ground has been broken, and it won't be left broken. It will be built upon.''

It should be built upon now, for the general election. Obama should have a woman on his ticket, and the best person to help him is Pelosi.

Sen. Clinton is right in her appeal to superdelegates that the electoral map -- which is how we elect a president -- is tilted in her favor. Even discounting California and New York which are going to be in any Democrat's column, she carried the big swing states and won by a large margin in Florida with everybody's name on the ballot.

Superdelegates know, however, that they can't overturn the wishes of a majority of the elected delegates. Obama is it. And he is going to need a political heavyweight on this ticket to win in November. Pelosi doubts there can be an Obama-Clinton ticket. She's right. But an Obama-Pelosi ticket is even better.

Don't worry about the "too liberal" label. Americans are going to be paying $5 a gallon for gas when they vote in November. They're not going to care if Obama and Pelosi are Martians. They are going to vote for the people who they most believe will change things. And that, for now, looks like the Democratic ticket.

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