release of the photograph showing a grinning Gov. Christine
Todd Whitman frisking a black man was without doubt a glorious
event. It served finally to end the persistent inane speculation
that George W. Bush will select her as his runningmate.
is, and has always been, a bore. Though her accomplishments
have been meager to say the least, she has enjoyed adulatory
media coverage that at times bordered on the hysterical.
Now that the hacks can no longer waste space gushing about
her, they are reviving old standbys. The other day, George
W. Bushs spokesman Ari Fleischer announced that Sen.
John McCain "endorsed the governor on May 8 in Pittsburgh
and has had very nice things to say and, actually, the Governor
and the Senator have been in frequent touch on the telephone
talking about various issues, particularly saving Social
Security. So were working shoulder to shoulder, and
the Vice President, of course, is going to be featured prominently
at the Republican Convention in a prime time speaking role."
Republicans have promised to be super-conciliatory this
year. But surely giving Al Gore prime time at the convention
is taking niceness a little far. Perhaps Fleischer was referring
to McCain as the vice president. Or perhaps that was just
a slip of the tongue and he meant "runningmate."
Either way, the slip if that is what it was created
the kind of mad media frenzy that is completely forgotten
by the next news cycle. Bush claims he has not yet decided
on a runningmate. Only three people Dick Cheney, Bushs
wife and Bush himself know who is even on the shortlist.
A recent wire service report claims the list includes Pennsylvania
Gov. Tom Ridge, Elizabeth Dole and Gov. George Pataki. George
Pataki! Here is an unlikely story if there was one. A Bush-Pataki
ticket is even less likely than a Bush-McCain ticket. Not
only will Bush not carry New York, about the last person
who would be of any help to him here is Gov. Pataki, having
failed so miserably to be of any help to his friend and
patron Al DAmato in 1998.
Al Gore is said to be seriously looking at House Minority
Leader Dick Gephardt as runningmate. Gephardt has the unique
distinction in American politics of being an even less appealing
figure than Al Gore. Gephardt and Gore were both easily
trounced in 1988 by that charismatic dynamo Michael Dukakis.
Having Gephardt on the ticket, we are told, will help shore
up Al Gores base, for Gephardt is a favorite of organized
labor. But Gore hardly needs to worry on that score now.
Though there has never in U.S. history been an administration
as fanatically committed to free trade as that of Bill Clinton,
the AFL-CIO could not wait to lavish its millions on Al
Gore, from whom it can only expect much the same. Gore,
like Bush, is a creature of the corporations who will do
very little to improve the lives of working Americans. Vice
President Gephardt will spend his days much as his predecessor
did: shaking down corporations for cash.
has now displaced Florida Sen. Bob Graham as frontrunner.
That was not hard to do. No one outside Florida has ever
heard of Graham. And Graham or no Graham, Gore has no hope
of carrying Florida.
cares anyway? There is one thing worse than an issueless
election and that is artificially stimulated excitement
over nonevents. There is not a single voter in America who
bases his choice of president on who the vice president
is likely to be. In 1988, for reasons that have never been
explained, George Bush chose Dan Quayle as runningmate.
Michael Dukakis chose Lloyd Bentsen a textbook example
of an ideal choice: a conservative Southerner balancing
a liberal Northerner. Bentsen knocked Quayle out in the
debate. And Dukakis got a drubbing, failing even to carry
Bentsens home state of Texas. None of this years
prospective vice-presidential nominees will serve their
respective tickets any better.
Tom Ridge? Though he is famous outside Pennsylvania chiefly
for being Catholic and "pro-choice," inside Pennsylvania
he is largely known for funneling taxpayer money into football
and baseball stadiums. Ridge secured $300 million worth
of bonds to build four new stadiums, two in Philadelphia
and two in Pittsburgh. But it is the states taxpayers
who paid for them, thereby subsidizing the corporations
who eventually will rake in millions on the stadiums. Bush
may still carry Pennsylvania, but no thanks to Ridge.
time has come to pass a constitutional amendment to establish
an elected vice presidency. There is no reason why a president
should choose who his successor will be. For one thing,
a candidate usually has no idea what he will do once he
is in the White House. Secondly, he has no reason to believe
that his vice president will not abandon his policies the
first chance he gets. With an elected vice president the
public will at least have some say as to who should succeed
the incumbent. As it is, we are stuck with Gore for no other
reason than Bill Clinton picked him as runningmate eight