Friday, July 22, 2011

Who Would Be Bachman's Career Ending "Sargent Shriver" VP?

Here is a basic outline of the history of how the Democratic nominee for president in 1972 George McGovern ended up with Sargent Shriver as his vice-presidential running mate. 

So disastrous were McGovern's chances of winning the presidential election after the convention that six potential VP's he approached turned him down (including Ted Kennedy). Shriver's only real claim to fame (his role in the Peace Corps not being part of the national conciousness to any major degree) was his being a Kennedy relative at a time when the Kennedy mystique had major cachet still.

The vice presidential vote

With hundreds of delegates either actively supporting Nixon or angry at McGovern for one reason or another, the vote was chaotic, with at least three other candidates having their names put into nomination and votes scattered over 70 candidates The eventual winner was Senator Thomas Eagleton, who accepted the nomination despite not personally knowing McGovern very well, and privately disagreeing with many of McGovern's policies.

The vice presidential balloting went on so long that McGovern and Eagleton were forced to make their acceptance speeches at around three in the morning, local time.

After the convention ended, it was discovered that Eagleton had undergone psychiatric electroshock therapy for depression, and had concealed this information from McGovern. A Time magazine poll taken at the time found that 77 percent of the respondents said "Eagleton's medical record would not affect their vote." Nonetheless, the press made frequent references to his 'shock therapy', and McGovern feared that this would detract from his campaign platform. 

McGovern subsequently consulted confidentially with preeminent psychiatrists, including Eagleton's own doctors, who advised him that a recurrence of Eagleton's depression was possible and could endanger the country should Eagleton become president. McGovern had initially claimed that he would back Eagleton “1000 percent,” only to ask Eagleton to withdraw three days later. This perceived indecisiveness was disastrous for the McGovern campaign.

After a week in which six prominent Democrats publicly refused the vice presidential nomination, Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to John, Robert and Ted Kennedy, former Ambassador to France,and former Director of the Peace Corps, finally accepted. He was officially nominated by a special session of the Democratic National Committee. By this time, McGovern's poll ratings had plunged from 41 to 24 percent.

Should the the strange confluence of events that propelled McGovern, the most incompetent major party campaigner in US presidential history except, perhaps, Horace Greeley, to the nomination be repeated, and Michele Bachman is the GOP's nominee then the question of who would wish to be tied to that sinking ship as VP candidate would arise. 

"In the end, Senator George McGovern succeeded in winning the nomination by winning primaries through grassroots support in spite of establishment opposition."

There is, of course, the possibility that if the economy was so terrible that anyone could win for the GOP. Thus Bachman might, but such an economic situation would have to be at a Hooverish level. So bad and so obviously incompetent was McGovern, that even with a massive war going on, and a crook in the White House Nixon won in a landslide.

With a Bachman candidacy, and the almost certain prospect of an Obama re-election by a massive margin, which of the prospective 2016 candidates would possibly wish to enter that campaign having been part of a team which was massively rejected in the previous election? The history of such candidates succeeding in later elections e.g. Shriver, Ferraro, Smith, Kemp, Mondale, Bentsen, is not promising.

Would Romney give up his probable last shot in 2016 to be Bachman's running mate? Pawlenty ? Perry? A Bachman/Santorum team seems improbable, if not downright suicidal. Bachman and Palin is inconceivable. Would Rubio or West throw away their long term chances on such a chimera?  

The only current candidate I could envisage teaming up with Bachman would be Herman Cain which, like Ferraro's choice by Mondale, would have considerable "talking  points" media coverage as the first female presidential nominee allied with the first GOP Black VP choice. But, like Ferraro this would be, I suspect, a one month wonder until underlying currents asserted themselves-not the least being such an inexperienced team being offered to the voters.

Not having a well known vice-presidential candidate is not necessarily an impediment to election, but since nobody from the House of Representatives since Garfield has been elected to the presidency, the experience question, especially in Cain's case would not help Bachman to say the least. 

Bachman would have enough on her plate with her past statements on numerous subjects getting a wider airing, her difficulty with the GLB community, and her lack of executive and international experience. Not having a viable running mate, and especially if many possible companions were seen to reject the offer, as with McGovern's sad searchings, would add substantially to her burdens.

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