Joe must not make veep­stakes mis­take

My vote for Bi­den hinges on choice

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - S.E. CUPP @se­cupp

The job of the vice pres­i­dent hasn’t got­ten much re­spect over the years.

Ben­jamin Franklin is ru­mored to have sug­gested that the ti­tle be re­named “His Su­per­flu­ous Ex­cel­lency.” Vice Pres­i­dent John Nance Gar­ner — aka, “who?” — said the role “is not worth a bucket of warm spit!” Even “Hamil­ton,” the block­buster mu­si­cal, got in on the veep-diss­ing. In one scene, Alexander Hamil­ton’s wife, urg­ing him to take a break, says of the then vice pres­i­dent, “John Adams spends the sum­mer with his fam­ily.” Hamil­ton re­torts, “John Adams doesn’t have a real job any­way.” But this year is very, very dif­fer­ent.

The hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing around the pre­sump­tive Demo­cratic nom­i­nee’s run­ning mate has been swirling for months. Who will Joe Bi­den pick? Ac­cord­ing to sources who spoke with Ax­ios, he’s nar­rowed it down to Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris and for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Su­san Rice. Bi­den ini­tially told re­porters his an­swer would come by the first week in Au­gust, but as the week comes to a close, that seems less likely. Surely he wouldn’t waste that big of an an­nounce­ment on a Fri­day news dump.

Bi­den, seem­ing to sense the gnaw­ing frus­tra­tion of his sup­port­ers, elec­tion watch­ers, an anx­ious me­dia and late-night talk show writers, tweeted Wed­nes­day: “Folks, a lot of you have been ask­ing when I’m an­nounc­ing my run­ning mate, and I prom­ise I’ll let you know soon.”

To be clear, Bi­den isn’t late, as some are sug­gest­ing. While Pres­i­dent Trump an­nounced Mike Pence in July, Mitt Rom­ney didn’t an­nounce Paul Ryan as his veep se­lec­tion un­til Aug. 11, 2012. Obama waited un­til Aug. 23, 2008, to an­nounce Bi­den would be his.

But the ur­gency is fraught this year. With ev­ery­thing go­ing on — an un­con­tained vi­ral pan­demic, mil­lions out of work, a sink­ing econ­omy and an in­com­pe­tent lu­natic pre­sid­ing over it all — Bi­den’s run­ning mate takes on con­sid­er­ably more sig­nif­i­cance.

Add to that the fact that Bi­den is get­ting up in years — he’ll be 78 when and if he is sworn in — and we’d be re­miss not to con­sider that whomever he chooses could be run­ning the coun­try with­out be­ing elected to do so.

Bi­den’s also got pol­i­tics to con­sider. As an ag­ing white man, it seems a younger woman of color would be a nat­u­ral com­ple­ment. Oth­ers think ex­pe­ri­ence should be the guid­ing fac­tor. Oth­ers still see a need for Bi­den to add an ide­o­log­i­cal coun­ter­weight — some­one fur­ther to the left to help bring in the Bernie San­ders vot­ers.

And so, for Bi­den, the choice mat­ters for rea­sons both prac­ti­cal and po­lit­i­cal.

For me, it mat­ters per­son­ally. After nearly four years of Trump’s chaos, in­com­pe­tence, cor­rup­tion, nar­cis­sism, nepo­tism, racism, au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism and ni­hilism, I’m very se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing vot­ing for Joe Bi­den, rather than write some­one in, as I did in 2016.

As a staunch con­ser­va­tive who has voted Repub­li­can in past elec­tions, I don’t take this lightly. I don’t agree with ev­ery­thing that Bi­den sup­ports, nor am I 100% com­fort­able with the di­rec­tion he wants to take the coun­try.

But I do know I’m 100% un­com­fort­able with the di­rec­tion Trump does. While I

wish there were an ac­tual con­ser­va­tive to vote for — some­one who re­spects the Con­sti­tu­tion, the rule of law, fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, free speech and a free press — I know that four more years of Trump will fur­ther dam­age, pos­si­bly be­yond re­pair, the in­sti­tu­tions we hold so dear in this coun­try.

For what it’s worth, I’m also just sick of all the crap. The gaslight­ing, the puerile tweets, the di­vi­sive­ness, the ram­pant ig­no­rance and the ut­ter in­abil­ity to put the coun­try be­fore his frag­ile ego. I’m ready to move on, I’m ready to make the pres­i­dency nor­mal again.

But whom Bi­den se­lects is hugely im­por­tant in my de­ci­sion-mak­ing. There is, for ex­am­ple, a mas­sive dif­fer­ence be­tween Ka­mala Har­ris and Su­san Rice. For me, it’s likely the dif­fer­ence be­tween Bi­den get­ting my vote and writ­ing some­one else in. Har­ris would have my vote. Rice would not.

Not only do I need to know who Bi­den will pick, I need to know why. I need to know what he or she en­vi­sions for the coun­try. His vice pres­i­dent will not just be a Bi­den rub­ber stamp, but a guid­ing force in his ad­min­is­tra­tion and po­ten­tially his re­place­ment. It won’t be enough to hear a boil­er­plate stump speech from his run­ning mate. I need de­tails.

With just un­der three months left un­til the elec­tion, time is of the essence. For mod­er­ates like me who are look­ing for rea­sons to vote for Bi­den, we need to know who’s on that ticket, and soon. I’m hop­ing, for the sake of the coun­try, he chooses some­one I can sup­port.

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris is re­port­edly one of two can­di­dates Joe Bi­den is con­sid­er­ing for his run­ning mate.


Su­san Rice served as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser for for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

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