Why has McCain caught up? The explanation should be obvious: his campaign has caused harm to its rival by going negative, following the time-tested tactic of convincing people that their opponent's strong points are actually weaknesses. You do not have to be exceptional intelligent to score points against an opponent if you are willing to play dirty. For Republicans, politics is just like ice hockey.
If you look at the team McCain has assembled so far, one thing grabs you: the candidate's lack of good judgment. Foreign policy adviser? McCain picked a guy who had been moonlighting for the trigger-happy president of Georgia. His economics czar? Phil Gramm, a guy who spearheaded the very policies that led to the present economic mess.
For Vice President, who are his options? The boring Tom Ridge seems by some estimates to be among the safer choices among politicians, but he is fairly pro-choice. Which brings us to Romney. I do not think he will choose Romney, because the two men reportedly do not get along -- and personal loyalty means a lot to McCain. Besides, Romney has only been pro-life since it became politically expedient to hold such a view. On the other hand, by choosing a non-politician businessperson, McCain can hope to get the business-savvy of a Romney with no voting track record on the abortion issue.
McCain knows he needs someone who understands business -- if not the economy -- on his ticket. And by choosing a female, conceivably he might think could steal away former Hillary supporters and retain the loyalty of female voters. That's why McCain is likely to quite choose a businessperson for his VP. Most likely, he will attempt to recruit either Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina. Neither impress me, but that would be par for the course. As a rule, McCain does not attract the best and the brightest to his team.
Now, until now, no individual aside from McCain has really been in the spotlight 24/7. Whatever second-rate business executive McCain picks to be his running mate, the person will be remain visible. He or she may well cause irreparable damage his campaign.
The McCain campaign -- like the Bush campaign before it -- can body check, even destroy an opponent (think Senator Kerry). They bomb a nation. But Republicans cannot build or create. There are few qualified Republicans who have not been irreparably tainted by their association with Bush. Within the ranks of his party, McCain would seem to have few good choices. Judging by McCain's track-record of team-building to date, it is highly doubtful he will choose well.
We can be reasonably sure of one thing. That is, McCain's VP will be no Wayne Gretzky.
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