Obama Veepstakes

How irresponsible of me.

Ok, with that out of the way...

Let us first note that Barack Obama is not John Kerry and is endowed with entirely different political imperatives. Kerry chose Edwards, we've learned in retrospect, because of politics, not because he felt Edwards could be president from day one, or because he felt some kinship with the smooth-talkin' lawyer from Robbins. The choice of Edwards and the demands it placed on the ticket will undoubtedly influence Mr. Obama's decision.

James Johnson, who was Kerry's veepstakes czar, is a major fundraiser for Obama and an informal adviser, and no doubt will urge him to first, choose someone with whom he is personally comfortable and can trust. I believe, but I do not know for sure, that this will be Obama's first and most private criterion: can I trust this guy (gal?) implicitly?

CW says that the first rule is "Do no harm." But that ain't right. The first rule is: Do I like this person?

Obama's evident political void is national security and executive experience; his first, public criterion will most definitely be: can this person be commander in chief? Can they pass the "red phone" test? ... followed by ... Can this person run a government?

It stands to reason that the largest nest of potential veep prospects contains old white men. And here are, on the basis of nothing but educated guesses, some of the names I believe that Obama will think about, when he starts to think about his selections.

Sam Nunn -- His thinking on nuclear proliferation has already influenced Obama's; both favor unilateral disarmament now; Nunn has the right geographic bonafides; he knows the generals and Obama does not;

Tim Roemer -- a 9/11 commissioner and former congressman from Indiana, Roemer has endorsed Obama; he's pro-life

Lee Hamilton -- he's quietly become of Obama's top foreign policy advisers; as a 9/11 commissioner, he built consensus, often to the detriment, some have said, of harder-edged conclusions.

Evan Bayh -- He's endorsed Hillary Clinton, but he's been a passive surrogate and hasn't participated in any activity that would offend Obama's sensibilities. He's a veteran of the intelligence and armed services committees and remains very popular in Indiana, where he's remembered as a tax-cutting Dem governor.

Joe Biden -- no Democrat gets foreign policy better than Joe Biden; no Democrat would be, in theory, a better steward of relations on the Hill than Biden; he'd be a fantastic surrogate and there'd be virtually no downside to picking him.

Wild cards: Chuck Hagel, Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb,

The American Prospect, in its March issue, has a list of the Usual Suspects, starting with Jim Webb ("miliary credentials," "Virginia," "white working class,"), Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (though the Prospect notes that she sort of flubbed her SOTU reaction address), Ohio's Ted Strickland (ah, but he endorsed HRC), Sen. Ken Salazar (not gonna happen), Biden, Napolitano, Schweitzer and others on the "bench," including Govs. Vilsack, Richardson and Bayh.

Next week, maybe, I'll write one of these about Hillary Clinton....