This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Obama must do the unexpected

As Barack Obama takes a few days rest in Hawaii this week, one of the many things weighing on his mind will be who to choose as Vice President. A decision has to be made within the next two weeks.

Hillary comes with too much baggage. John Edwards extra-marital affair rules him out as well.

The common consensus amongst the commentariat and blogosphere is that Obama needs to choose an older, whiter, more experienced foreign affairs specialist who can compliment his youth and inexperience. If the individual in question is a a former Republican all the better.

If Obama listens to this advice he will lose.

It may seem like clever politics to choose a Veep who can balance the ticket but it would be the wrong strategy.

Most Presidential candidates do choose VPs who balance them in some way - politically, geographically even religiously.

But Obama is running on a platform of generational change. If he chooses a candidate who is more hawkish than him and has greater foreign affairs experience it will only underline his own weaknesses in that area and provide the McCain camp with an open goal.

Obama should learn from the grand-master himself. When Bill Clinton was running in 1992 he chose another southern, centrist Democrat Al Gore to be his VP. Instead of trying to balance the ticket he chose someone like himself. This only served to enhance Clinton's message that he represented a new type of politics and offered real change.

Obama should do the same. He should pick a candidate - woman, Hispanic, liberal or young - who offers the same generational break with the past that he does. If there is one thing voters want this time around it is a rupture with the politics of the "Same old same old." Of course this is a riskier strategy. Obama could do the easy thing and choose an individual who is unlike him in every way. But if he wants a mandate for change and a win in November he should do the unexpected and pick someone like himself.

After all, he is the Democrat's greatest strength.


elo said...

Dr. Tantillo ('the marketing doctor') has a blog on branding ( ) and did a post back in May on the idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket--arguing that from a branding perspective, it makes no sense, and actually wouldn't be a good move for Clinton's brand, either. 

"Because of the length of this primary fight, brand identity and loyalty to brand have become central. What this means is that a kind of brand mutual exclusivity has set in."

Hillary on the ticket would, I think, up Obama's chances of winning the election, but they also both have the next four years to think about--and if he wants to run with what he has symbolized for the American people so far, I agree that it would make the most sense for him to make a choice that's not necessarily the most obvious one.

Link to Tantillo's full post:

Alex Finnegan said...

thanks for this!

Richard said...

Does Obama even need to compete? It would appear McCain likes nothing better than shooting himself in the foot.