In Birmingham They Love the Governor; Elsewhere, Not So Much

As I’ve made clear in the past, Jim Webb is a crappy, crappy choice for the vice presidency. But I there was any enthusiasm for the pick before this week, there sure as hell isn’t now. Kathy G did the definitive takedown of Webb’s retrograde views on women, Ezra elaborated on how Webb manifests the commentariat’s never-ending thirst for manliness, Matt Zeitlin has documented his racial prejudice, Ezra argued that the Webb pick would hurt the party, and Jim Fallows made the case that it’s a crappy move for Webb too. So picking Webb is (a) bad for women (b) bad for bringing ex-Clinton supporters into the fold (c) bad for blacks (d) bad for the Democrats and (e) bad for Webb. By my math, that seems to render it a bad move. Just maybe.
There’s a more general point to be made here, though. The last time one of the two national tickets lacked a Southerner was in 1996 with Dole and Kemp. The last time a Democatic ticket lacked a Southerner was Mondale/Ferraro in 1984. Just this once, can we not? Yeah, I know the arguments for adding a Southie, the ones about how the last three Democratic presidents were Southerners, about how Obama’s uniquely vulnerable in Scots-Irish heavy areas, about how matching a black man and slaveowner descendent would send a powerful message. But combined, the former Confederacy only has about 85 million people – barely over a quarter of the total US population. Moreover, as Tom Schaller has argued, it’s probably beyond the reach of Democrats in all but a major realigning election. The Southwest, Midwest, and Plains regions are all likelier pickup opportunities. Inasmuch as a VP pick can improve a candidates’ chances in a general election – and there’s not much evidence one can – we ought to pick someone like Ken Salazar, or Brian Schweitzer, or Kathleen Sebelius, who would put an actual Democratic growth region in play. While I still think Wes Clark has a unique combination of advantages, I also have a strong inclination to reject the conventional wisdom that Democrats must suck up to and appease the South by giving a native son a place on the ticket and pick Kitzhaber or Bradley instead. No region has had the stranglehold on our politics that the South has, and if one region is to, it shouldn’t be the most reactionary and socially retrograde part of the country. Having an-all Northerner (or Northerner and Westerner) ticket would send a message that the South’s era of domination is done.

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