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Kos says not to worry:

Gephardt might not the most exciting choice, but he gives the Republicans zero ammunition. And that fits in nicely within Kerry's strategy.
Nice thought, but no. Suppose Kerry needs to explain his wishy-washy position on the war. He'll want to say that he would have been happier with the Biden-Lugar resolution but, unfortunately, it was scuttled . . . by his vice presidential nominee. Oops! In general Gephardt will give the GOP about seventeen million new votes to scrutinize for further flip-flops and differences with Kerry's. Also -- people hate him. Also -- no one likes him. I'm not saying that if Kerry picks Gephardt that then all of a sudden voting for Bush becomes a good idea, but picking Gephardt is a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad idea and choosing that bad idea will reflect badly on Kerry. There's no getting around that.

July 5, 2004 | Permalink


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» the vice-president as a campaigner from coffee grounds
Matthew Yglesias is unconvinced that Gephardt would have a neutral impact on the Kerry campaign. And while I agree with Yglesias that Gephardt's stance on trade (defending specific, existing jobs and ignoring new ones not as easily identifiable) would ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 5, 2004 6:13:19 PM

» Open veep thread from Daniel W. Drezner
Matt Drudge says that everyone will know who Kerry's VP pick tomorrow: Kerry intends to begin calling the major candidates in contention around 7 a.m. Tuesday to give them the news of his choice... Kerry's aides reported placards had been... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 5, 2004 11:55:45 PM

» I can't handle this confusion from Signifying Nothing
It appears that the Kerry Veepstakes will come to an end today. Will Collier is betting on Gephardt, both Dan Drezner (who thinks Edwards is the man) and Matt Yglesias think Gephardt would be a bad choice, and Robert Garcia... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 6, 2004 7:40:03 AM


All of the stuff that I've read concludes that Gephardt is the safe, if entirely uninteresting choice. He's been put through the grind several times over, and more or less, he has no skeletons in his closet. (He surely has something that will be used against him, but if it was something like being caught on a public restroom while fondling a small child, we would know about it already.) Labor loves him, and even though the power of those groups is diminishing, it's still powerful enough to make a difference. Hell, if they get out and vote and add an extra thousand votes to Kerry's column in different states, like Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, it could make all the difference. But as you point out, Matt, he does have liabilities. An even bigger problem than the one you describe is, how does he deal with the issue of free trade?

Additionally, nobody likes him? How do you know that? Is it that people are really indifferent about him, or that people actively dislike him?

If people want all of the advantages that they claim to find in Gephardt, except for a long political history, they would go to John Edwards. Both he and Kerry beat Gephardt in heavily unionized areas.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 5, 2004 1:36:19 PM

We get it; you don't like Gephardt. But stringing together the word "bad" a bunch of times isn't an argument. Indeed, I've read all your blurbs on this topic, and most of your points merely puncture the arguments in Gephardt's favor. I don't think you've made a single substantive point against him.

The problem with Edwards is simple; he's a one-term senator. There is no evidence he's actually qualified to run the country should the worst happen. Gephardt, by contrast, is an experienced politician. That stuff matters.

And finally, I sense you hate Gep for his position on trade. That's fine; I agree. But Edwards position isn't actually any better. It's just that he hasn't been around long enough for it to be his hallmark.

Posted by: Opinionator | Jul 5, 2004 1:38:47 PM

I think we are in agreeance.

Posted by: Conezone | Jul 5, 2004 1:41:59 PM

"Suppose Kerry needs to explain his wishy-washy position on the war. He'll want to say that he would have been happier with the Biden-Lugar resolution but..."

If Kerry ever tries to say anything like this, no matter who the VP is, the election is lost.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 5, 2004 1:43:06 PM

If Kerry picks Gephardt, M. Moore's next film should look for evidence that Kerry was paid to take a dive.

This just can't be true.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jul 5, 2004 1:51:50 PM

Well I am no fan of either Gebhardt or Edwards. I suspect the point of Gebhardt is that he will energize the people who actually work the phones and drive the vans on election day. Theory being that Dems really don't, or can't create another vote, they need to keep and use what they already have. Turnout, turnout, turnout.

And if I was a Chicago black, the fact that the Southern Republicans think Edwards is the beesknees would give me pause.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jul 5, 2004 1:56:52 PM

I don't think Geppy's the best choice available.  But I also don't think he's nearly as bad a choice as the chorus would have.  So, here's my defense of Geppy.

One Cheer for Dick Gephardt!

Geppy is not Bill Clinton.  But he doesn't need to be.

The VP doesn't need to be a charismatic leader.  Al Gore was a perfect VP candidate in '92, and we all saw what a lousy Presidential candidate he turned out to be.  For that matter, Fritz Mondale was a good VP candidate, even though he was awful at the top of the ticket.

Geppy's strongest appeal is to blue-collar workers in the Midwest.  These are the "Reagan Democrats", and stripping some of these voters away from Bush could prove decisive in a close election.

And let's not forget that Organized Labor's fav/unfav numbers are better than they've been in decades.  Being linked to labor is a net plus these days, not the net negative it was in the '80's.

And while Geppy might have trouble winning a state-wide Senate race in Missouri, he will still be a net plus to the ticket in that crucial swing state.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 5, 2004 1:59:47 PM

Who do you propose Kerry pick if your criteria is that the veep has always agreed on everything with him? If we have some sort of cloning technology why are we wasting it on Kerry instead of the big dawg?

Seriously, whoever gets the nod is going to have to stand up and say, "Kerry's going to be the president, and whatever my positions in the past I'll support his decisions."

Geppy isn't a bad choice, even if he isn't a particularly good choice.

Posted by: bunny | Jul 5, 2004 2:08:51 PM

Clinton/Oprah 2008.

Posted by: Conezone | Jul 5, 2004 2:12:40 PM

Even our aim is to lose this election, Gephardt will almost certainly help us achieve it. But why not bring out the big guns? What about Mondale? We could drag him out of retirement every two years to humiliate him - just for fun. Or what about McGovern? At least we could have a principled loss, and a really groovy convention. Or what about Dukakis AND Bentsen? Medical science is advancing fast enough that maybe by November we could attach Dukakis' head to Bentsen's body, creating a Dukakis-Bentsen hyrbid. Kerry/Bukakis in 04!

Posted by: Snarkasaurus Rex | Jul 5, 2004 2:14:50 PM

Gep never came close to winning back the House.

Gep couldn't beat two New Englanders and a Southerner in IA.

Gep didn't get the unions' endorsements (except that from his former roommate) during the primaries.

Gep has a huge long voting record that the Repugs will distort to shreds.

Gep is perhaps the single person most responsible for giving Bush carte blanche from congress re: Iraq. Not just the Rose Garden, but undermining efforts to limit the resolution.

Diaries :: veganpa's diary ::

Gep's choice will take the wind out of many sails, and will totally energize the Naderites. And I mean totally energize them.

If Kerry has chosen Gep 'cause he's too insecure to go with Edwards, despite all of the above, then one could argue (and many will) that he's not secure enough to be President.

Note: I LOATHE Bush. I've had my tires slashed 'cause of all my anti-Bush bumper stickers. I've given and given to Kerry. But this choice will be a sign that he's not serious about winning above all else.


If you haven't seen it, here are a few choice quotes from Garance Franke-Ruta's 6/21/04 piece, "The Problem with Gephardt". Franke-Ruta articulates the discontent re: Gephardt quite well, I believe. Personally, Clark was my #1 choice and Edwards was my #2, so to me, this ticket bites the big one, plain and simple! Now, over to Garance Franke-Ruta...

*"The choice of Gephardt would reinforce every negative stereotype about Kerry in current circulation while muddying the picture of what he actually stands for."

*" Put Gephardt on the ticket and suddenly, instead of an experienced moderate leader with a progressive bent, you have a pair that can be caricatured as two aging, pro-tax creatures of Washington, both of whom backed the president's war in Iraq for purely opportunistic reasons"

*"Gephardt didn't just lose the Democratic primary. He was trounced...revealing that not only did he have no base in Iowa, he had no base of support outside that state"

*"Gephardt was a lackluster campaigner, incapable of drawing an audience and equally incapable of inspiring one. His union friends were loyal to the very end, but he was a one-trick pony"

*"Gephardt uniquely has the potential to alienate both centrists and those on the leftmost edges of the party...Gephardt is the last of the big-spending liberals...[and] Most importantly, Gephardt is the single Democrat most associated with enabling President Bush's intervention in Iraq."

*"Gephardt was responsible for the only unforgivable act of the entire primary season. Gephardt's cronies put together a 527 committee that hid its donors and ran a TV advertisement in South Carolina effectively comparing Howard Dean to Osama bin Laden. There are few lines any longer in politics, but Gephardt's allies crossed a pretty big one."

Posted by: MattB | Jul 5, 2004 2:15:11 PM

If Kerry ever tries to say anything like this, no matter who the VP is, the election is lost.

Petey, that's the truest thing I've heard all day.


Posted by: Trapper John | Jul 5, 2004 2:18:27 PM

"Gep never came close to winning back the House."

People are, I think, too critical of him on this point. Absent some historic "Contract with America"-like approach, most House members win reelection. The numbers are as low as 90% and as high as 97%, from what I remember reading, but even if you want to lowball it, people usually stay put.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 5, 2004 2:21:27 PM

Matt, there are people in the world who are not like you -- many of them in the Democratic core constituency.

I hope that Kerry-Gephardt wins bigs, doubles the ethanol subsidy, and invites you personally to the signing of the bill.

Posted by: Zizka | Jul 5, 2004 2:28:08 PM

Doesn't matter, really -- he has the stink of "loser" about him (see The Daily Show summary of possible VPs).

And if I remember, his proposed health care program was bloated and old-school to the extreme.

I don't hate Gep. But I think he is the worst choice for a ticket that will take out Bush. IMO.

Posted by: MattB | Jul 5, 2004 2:30:52 PM

A bit of mildly comic relief: the Kerry campaign plans to e-mail the choice to its sunscribers. Picture all the WTF?! replies whizzing back at them right after the announcement goes out.

Gephardt has flip-flopped on abortion rights.

If he's really picking him, well, John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm going to vote for him anyway.

But after November... You think the Greens are big-tent enought to accomodate hawkish centrists who don't like spineless process twerps as their standard-bearers?

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Jul 5, 2004 2:33:09 PM

Since I don't really want Gephardt on the ticket*, I will try to convince myself and others why it won't happen.

For one thing, the conventional wisdom is almost always wrong. If I remember correctly, the last time a major journalist scored an accurate prediction was when David Broder said Spiro Agnew was going to be Nixon's pick. And that was thirty years ago! Similarly, so I've read, people didn't expect Cheney or Lieberman to be the choices in 2000. So if the conventional wisdom says it's going to be Edwards, Gephardt, or Vilsack (EGV)), judging by history, it almost certainly won't be any of them.

Additionally, I imagine that one of Kerry's reasons for being so secretive is that he wants to create a lot of suspense. And if he can successfully divert our focus and make it seem like it's going to be EGV, and it turns out to be someone else, that will only create a bigger story. If he's trying to get as much free media attention as possible, then maybe he's going to try this approach.

I felt like I had a few other things to say, but I don't. Oh well.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 5, 2004 2:34:52 PM

A bit of good news:

"VP UPDATE: ABC News has learned that last-minute attention has focused at least in part on Senator John Edwards. Some Democrats have been doing a last-minute review of his records over the holiday weekend."


Posted by: Snarkasaurus Rex | Jul 5, 2004 2:39:25 PM

"And if I remember, his proposed health care program was bloated and old-school to the extreme."

Geppy's health care proposal would have covered more Americans than the plans of any of the other major candidates in the primaries.

You can call that bloated. I call that a good thing.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 5, 2004 2:45:24 PM

The Note today really leads away from giving the impression that it's Gephardt. Gephardt says he's never been to Madeleine Albright's house in his life, and his quote about it sounded miffed.

Also talks about men with distinctive national security credentials...one more time, Zinni? I read he was on the list a few weeks ago.

Petey, you're right, Gephardt is not a fifth columnist, anything but. Like Lieberman, his overall record is that of a progressive centrist, but also, like Lieberman, he has a way of picking individual issues that really matter (to me, at least) and very opportunistically triangulating with them. Abortion rights (back in the day) the war resolution...

One last thing on Zinni: the only objection I've heard to him is that he "hates Dems." Depending on how harsh he's been in public statements, that could be a good thing; he could say that critical times demanded that he cross party lines.

Posted by: Sean Flaherty | Jul 5, 2004 3:01:14 PM

"You can call that bloated. I call that a good thing."

But at what cost? We surely have the resources to cover every single uninsured person in the country for a while, but that will only last a while. Gephardt's program was so big and expensive - over $300 billion, if I remember correctly. As Kerry pointed out in one of the debates, the money simply isn't there.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 5, 2004 3:08:33 PM

"But at what cost? We surely have the resources to cover every single uninsured person in the country for a while, but that will only last a while."

Every other modern industrialized nation in the world has the resources for universal health coverage. Most of those those nations are far less wealthy than America.

America obviously has the resources. We just can't seem to find the political will.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 5, 2004 3:16:15 PM

"Every other modern industrialized nation in the world has the resources for universal health coverage. Most of those those nations are far less wealthy than America.

America obviously has the resources. We just can't seem to find the political will."

Aren't those systems socialized?

Posted by: Brian | Jul 5, 2004 3:25:18 PM

"Aren't those systems socialized?"

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but here in America, pensions for the elderly, health care for the elderly, K-12 education, the highway system, police and fire departments, and many other things are socialized.

Health care for all doesn't seem like an unreasonable thing to add to the list. It works quite well in the rest of the industrialized world.

Posted by: Petey | Jul 5, 2004 3:33:45 PM

the things that bother me about gephardt:

1. he inspires absolutely nobody in the electorate. he's been running for president for years, and look where it's got him: nowhere. he has no base of support, no personal popularity, and no dynamism or charisma. no one has ever liked him as a candidate on the national level.

2. kerry is enough of a stick that you don't need a clone of him as his running mate. you need someone with charisma, an able speaker, fresh and invigorating who can help offset the stiffness of kerry, and invigorate the electorate. gephardt ain't that guy.

3. he's big with organized labor leaders, but not necessarily as popular with the rank and file membership. just as many regular, average common labor folk dislike him as much as leadership like him.

4. he's been in congress forever, and what has he really accomplished? similar to kerry's record, run the two of them together and you get as much of a perception that they are part of the problem with government as they are the solution. again, the last thing you need to inspire the electorate is a ticket of two long-time washington insiders.

5. i don't care about whether he has the experience to run the country if needed. none of that matters a lick if you can't get elected to the position in the first place. no matter how capable kerry's choice is, what does it matter if kerry loses in november? you need a guy who will help the ticket to get elected. again, gephardt ain't that guy.

6. what does he bring to the ticket? as seen in the primaries, his base of support anywhere outside of missouri is non-existant. how does he help in the battleground states? not a whole lot.

i'm in favor of edwards. he's a young, fresh face, charismatic, and an impressive and moving speaker. and while he may not be able to deliver the south to kerry, he will make it more competitive, forcing the bush team to spend money in places they may otherwise have taken for granted. the harder it is for them, the more money and resources they spend in these states is less money and resources to devote elsewhere. edwards just makes the kerry campaign that much more competitive across the entire country.

Posted by: achn2b | Jul 5, 2004 3:35:51 PM

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