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JFK Assassination and the selection of a VP

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Some people have claimed that John Kennedy signed his own death warrant when he selected Lyndon Johnson as his VP running-mate. The same was said about Abraham Lincoln when in 1864 he ditched the radical Hannibal Hamlin and selected the arch conservative, Andrew Johnson as his VP running-mate. It was argued at the time that Johnson would balance the ticket (Johnson was the as his running mate in the 1864 presidential election. Hamlin was a Radical Republican and it was felt that Lincoln was the governor of Tennessee, who had previously made it clear that he was a supporter of slavery).

The VP decisions of Kennedy and Lincoln provided a good political motive for assassinating them. Maybe Obama's best hope of keeping alive is to appoint a woman with a liberal reputation as VP.

It has been announced that Barack Obama has asked Caroline Kennedy to vet potential VP candidates. She is to join Jim Johnson and Eric Holder in this process.

In my own view the following could pose problems for Obama if he appoints them as his running-mate: Hilary Clinton, James Webb (Virginia), Ted Strickland (Ohio), Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania) and Wesley Clark (MIC).

He would no doubt be safer if he selected Bill Richardson (New Mexico), Kathleen Sebelius (Kansas) or John Edwards (North Carolina).

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"Hillary's supporters" (a term that never ceases to amaze me) are pushing for her to be the VP candidate. Obama will be unable to reunite the Democratic party if he doesn't choose Hillary, especially since Hillary, if she's not the VP candidate, will do all within her power to see that McCain gets elected, so she can then run for president in 2012. (Old man McCain would be a one-term president.) So what we are presently witnessing in the U.S. is the spectacle of a man being pressured into committing suicide, by taking the Clinton crime family along with him to the White House. And I can't imagine Caroline or any other Kennedy doing anything to prevent it. For all I know, Caroline is one of "Hillary's supporters."

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And I can't imagine Caroline or any other Kennedy doing anything to prevent it. For all I know, Caroline is one of "Hillary's supporters."

Obama will definitely not take Hilary as Veep, and nothing signals that louder or clearer than his appointment of Caroline Kennedy. Ted & Caroline's joint endorsement of Obama, just before Super Tuesday, was one of the decisive factors in Hillary's defeat. Caroline has become best buddies with Michelle Obama, who thinks -- with good reason -- that Hillary should be ridden out of town on a rail.

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Some random thoughts about the points above.

John Simkin first. On Hilary, John is, of course, right. Hilary as VP would be the ultimate poisoned chalice, to put it mildly. Her logic – and this is very Hilary and very Clinton – is that she personally owns all those 18 million votes. Let’s skip over the tortuous arguments about the Florida and Michigan votes it takes to squeeze Hilary’s total up to 18 million. Whether it’s 17 or 18 million votes, Hilary seems to think they are hers to push them around the political monopoly board until she gets what she wants.

Up to a point, yes, of course they are. But the way Hilary is pushing it has gone way past that point. This is the logic of an old time political boss, with pockets stashed full of favours, whether made, returned, owing or bought, that he (yup, Hils, he. It was always he) can use in the smoke-filled backroom. Mayor Daley (the first one, Hiz Honour, the one who kept voting the graveyards until JFK had a big enough margin in Cook County in 1960) would recognise the logic there. Nice one, Hils. Bit of a giveaway, that…….

On the political front, Obama would show himself to be very weak if he caved in to this Hilary for VP stuff and would be behaving like the business-as-usual brigade he’s campaigned against. In football terms, it would be an own goal from the half way line. A monumental mistake. Both Bill and Hilary – literally – down the hall in the White House? He’d be mad to do it and Obama would lose his credibility if he did. I’d be amazed if he made such a blunder.

Later today – Saturday – afternoon, should reveal all when Hilary speaks. Graciously? I can’t remember the last time a candidate for office in the UK or USA did not concede to their opponent once they had won. If Hilary had made the right sort of gracious statement last Tuesday evening, after Obama passed the number of delegates needed to nominate him, she would have had all the esteem and power she could ever want. Even Fox News, Satan’s mouthpiece on earth, promptly announced Obama’s historic victory, with dignity and a sense of historical perspective, the moment AP said he had got over the finish line. But not Hilary. I, me, me, mine, to the bitter end. Yuk.

So, yes, she’d be poison on the ticket and that’s before we get to Bill….

But I’m puzzled by John’s comments on other VP possibilities. Please elaborate, John. Viz:

Webb, Strickland and Rendell would almost certainly pull in their respective states for Obama and they are all states he is currently struggling in. Ohio and Pennsylvania (ie: Strickland and Rendell) are states he just cannot afford to lose, although Virginia, as a Republican state, is a different matter.

But Webb, in particular, would counter and maybe nullify altogether, the effete liberal tag the Republicans will make great efforts to tag Obama with.

Here is Webb’s description of himself in his book, A Time to Fight, runs thus:

“… the only person in the history of Virginia to be elected to statewide office with a union card, two Purple Hearts and three tattoos.”

Whether this combination of talents is quite what is required to be Vice President and thus, potentially President, of the United States is another matter. But talking on a political level, I would have thought the argument for any of those three men was very powerful and for Webb, very powerful indeed.

Clark, I think is a nice guy but a political lightweight, as shown in his 2004 Presidential bid.

Regarding John’s suggestions for who should run with Obama, I’d say this:

Bill Richardson: a good Governor and a sound executive in his Clinton administration roles, but I haven’t seen evidence that his abilities stretch any further than that – and for what it’s worth, he’s said to have some, uh, Clinton-esque baggage….

Kathleen Sebelius – yes, she’d nullify some of the nonsense about no female over 40 voting for Obama and presumably she’d win Kansas for Obama, but with all due respect to Kansas, six electoral votes is not much of a stocking filler for the Democrats. As I recall, but I could be wrong, she inherited a horrendous state deficit and turned it around without inflicting pain on any easy targets. Good stuff, but a relative who works in Kansas says Sebelius’s education expansion programme is badly under-funded – meat & grist to the Republicans.

John Edwards: two orators on the same ticket? Not shrewd. Being out of office, he would bring no electoral advantage to the ticket and his single term in the Senate would add no weight to Obama’s four years of a first term. That said, Edwards has an honourable legislative and initiative record, however short, but it’s politically too close to Obama’s to help Obama. In his ice-in-his-veins political judgment persona, RFK wouldn’t have seen Edwards as an asset to the ticket. I’m not sure what Hiz Honour would have thought….

I think Ron Ecker, has got it right on the lunacy of Obama selecting Hilary, but not on the doubtful authenticity of Caroline Kennedy’s support for Obama. There really cannot be any doubt about the authenticity of Caroline’s support for Obama.

At a very ungenerous push, her stumping the country for Obama and her TV ads for his campaign could be construed as politics as usual, but that just doesn’t fit her character. Caroline is very good at fulfilling the public duty side of being her father’s daughter, but clearly doesn’t relish speaking in public any more than she has to. She is a very private person, but aware of her duty and didn’t have to endorse Obama. But once she did, she did it with considerable verve.

The writer of this Newsweek piece, below, is a good journalist and probably knows her better than almost anybody in the American media. Read his piece and judge for yourself. My take on it and on Caroline’s campaigning for Obama is that both go straight through the front door – ie: you can believe them. We can get too cynical about these things.


I also think, incidentally, that Obama’s campaign to date has been as clean a campaign as it is realistically possible to mount. Indeed, the danger lies in the other direction. Both JFK & RFK could give Obama a master class in political disingenuousness. What do you think Bobby would have done, for instance, to shut up an equivalent of the Reverend Wright in any his brother’s campaigns? It hardly bears thinking about.

Going back to Caroline Kennedy, I think J Raymond Carroll is correct in reading her inclusion in Obama’s VP research as a sign that it won’t be Hilary. A politically astute move by Obama, from that point of view, actually.

But, unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that Caroline’s endorsement of Obama or indeed that made by Ted Kennedy, made any difference on super Tuesday. Obama lost to Hilary in California and Massachusetts, two states that the Kennedy legacy should have given him if their endorsements carried significant weight. The YouTube / iPod generation who have had a very large part to play in Obama’s success are just too young to understand anything about JFK and it seems that a lot of the older voters who might understand, voted for Hilary. A pity, but so it goes.

Have a look – below - at the largely student / YouTube audience at the American University rally where Caroline Kennedy first spoke publicly about Obama. You can tell from their reactions that they just don’t get it. See their non-reaction to her reference to JFK’s American University speech, for instance. It doesn’t register with them. We can all wish that they’d spend less time on their iPods / YouTube and more time reading, but that’s like wishing for world peace. Nice thought, but hold no breathe waiting for it to happen.

On the positive side of things, this technology-doped younger generation, which thinks that access, source and task are verbs and almost unanimously talks with that irritating accent whereby every second word is like and the intonation is constantly that of a question, although it isn’t – as in I’m like, voting for Obama? – has finally done a decent thing and given us Obama. Now, if they could only learn to talk in like, English? too…..

Enjoy the clip.

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Hilary's best bet is to abandon ship and endorse McCain in exchange for being selected as HIS VP candidate. If the McCain-Clinton ticket is then elected, she would have a reasonable chance of assuming the presidency due to his natural death.

Kidding aside I think McCain should select a woman as his running-mate, namely Margaret Hoover.

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I don’t see any evidence that Caroline’s endorsement of Obama or indeed that made by Ted Kennedy, made any difference on super Tuesday.

Of course you don't, since you don't know whether Obama could have survived Super Tuesday in such a good position WITHOUT those endorsements.

And you don't know how those endorsements affected the thinking of superdelegates, or the explosion in Obama's fundraising that followed the Kennedy endorsement, or how they affected morale in the fledgling Obama campaign.

One person who has stated publicly that the Kennedy endorsement was (and still is) extremely important is the bold Barack himself, and surely he is in the best position to know. Ask BIll CLinton. THe biggest boost for his first presidential bid in 1992 was the film that surfaced showing him shaking hands with JFK.

Obama lost to Hilary in California and Massachusetts, two states that the Kennedy legacy should have given him if their endorsements carried significant weight.

The most visible legacy on display in those two states this year was the legacy of Bill Clinton, a legacy that survived in part because Ted Kennedy stood staunchly by Wild Bill against very powerful enemies.

In the democratic primary system it is kind of meaningless to say that someone "won" a state. The only relevant question is How many DELEGATES were pledged. FOr example, Hillary "WON" Texas despite Ted Kennedy's very visible campaigning there, yet Obama ended up with more delegates, which was the only thing that mattered in the end.

It would not surprise me if future historians attribute Hillary's downfall to her decision to claim the legacy of LBJ and reject the legacy of JFK.

You can tell from their reactions that they just don’t get it. See their non-reaction to her reference to JFK’s American University speech, for instance. It doesn’t register with them.

We can only see a tiny segment of the audience when Caroline makes that reference, but to me the audience seemed to be listening very attentively.

Why belittle an entire generation before they have even embarked upon their adult lives?

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