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The Veep Hunt

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Scratch Webb Off.

Last week I communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate, where I believe I am best equipped to serve the people of Virginia and this country.” In the Obama veepstakes, Sen. Webb takes himself out of the running. “Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for Vice President.

Stating — and Rejecting — the Obvious.

“‘As he’s said many times before, Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark,’ Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.” So…I guess Wes Clark won’t be the veep. For some ill-defined reason, the Obama campaign sees fit to throw the general under the bus because Clark, a guy I run hot and cold on, simply stated the obvious. Getting shot down over Vietnam, however ostensibly character-building, in no way constitutes executive experience: ““I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility…I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.

Said Obama in Independence today: “McCain had ‘endured physical torment in service to our country’ and ‘no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides.’” Fair enough, but that wasn’t at all what Clark was doing. McCain’s basically getting away with the same sort of resume inflation as Sen. Clinton did in the primaries, and Clark — a five-star general who knows what he’s talking about — called him on it.

One could argue that there’s a method to this move by the Obama campaign, but even that theory suggests a certain ugly political opportunism at work. (One could also argue karma had some part to play in all this, since Clark earlier jumped all over Samantha Powers’ gaffe during the primaries.) Nonetheless, between this, the Senator’s switchback on telecom immunity (which I discussed in the comments here), and various other recent triangulations, the Obama campaign has had a pretty lousy week. I don’t know if it’s the recent influx of “veteran” hands, an attempt to beat back the National Journal liberal label, or just an early-summer malaise, but that sickly-sweet smell of Old-School Dem Politics is lingering in the air. Get it together, y’all. I know the polls look good, but this defensive-minded playing-not-to-lose is assuredly not the way to go.

Update: “I’ve said this for some weeks now, they’ve been repeated many times.Clark sticks to his guns, and Webb has his back. Meanwhile, Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald makes the case against Obama’s last two weeks: “There is no question, at least to me, that having Obama beat McCain is vitally important…[but] his election is less likely, not more likely, the more homage he pays to these these tired, status-quo-perpetuating Beltway pieties.

Update II: Obama clarifies on Clark: “I don’t think that General Clark you know had the same intent as the swift boat ads that we saw four years ago, I reject that analogy…I think in at least one publication was reported that my comments yesterday about Senator McCain were in a response to General Clark. I think my staff will confirm that that was in a draft of that speech that I had written two months ago.

Update III: Fred Kaplan has a theory about Clark v. McCain: Grunts are from Mars, Flyboys are from Venus.

Al Little Late. | According to Doyle.

The outcome of this election will affect the future of our planet…Take it from me — elections matter.” Finally, Al Gore endorses Sen. Obama. (Not exactly a profile in courage at this point, but could we really expect anything less from the man?) Well, in any case, welcome aboard.

Also joining Team Obama today: Patty Solis Doyle, who has been hired to be “chief of staff to the future vice presidential running mate.” As Doyle, “a native Chicagoan with deep ties to many senior Obama aides,” is no longer on speaking terms with Sen. Clinton (to whom she “devoted her adult life“) after having been blamed for Iowa, it would seem Clinton will not be making the veep short list. Try to contain your despair.

Webb 2.0? | The Twenty.

The symbolism of all this to average swing voters just seems to me too powerful to pass up. The GOP is going to hang the elitist tag on Obama, as they’ve always done in recent elections. It’s worked in the last two elections, and it might well work in this one. But it stands far less a chance of working if Obama has this ruddy-faced, shit-kicking, pugnacious, southern white guy standing next to him vouching for him.The Guardian Michael Tomasky makes the case for a Vice-President Webb, while The Prospect‘s Ezra Klein (he should stay in the Senate), Slate‘s Tim Noah (he’s too volatile), and The Atlantic‘s James Fallows (he’d hate the gig) demur.

Update: Webb aside, Sen. Kent Conrad leaks that the Obama campaign is currently floating a list of twenty or so names for veep. He “told CNN that some of those on the list are ‘top officials now,’ others are ‘former lawmakers’ and others are ‘former top military leaders.‘”

Jeepers Veepers.

After Sen. Clinton gets toxic and ridiculous over Michigan and Florida — In a clear attempt to poison the well (and fire up the smoke machine), she compared the DNC’s decision to adhere to the rules she herself agreed to (when it suited her) to Election 2000, Zimbabwe, and the civil rights movement — her aides, fundraisers, and husband try to foist Sen. Clinton as Obama’s veep. But Rural Votes’ Al Giordano says hold up: “The Field can now confirm, based on multiple sources, something that both campaigns publicly deny: that Senator Clinton has directly told Senator Obama that she wants to be his vice presidential nominee, and that Senator Obama politely but straightforwardly and irrevocably said ‘no.’ Obama is going to pick his own running mate based on his own criteria and vetting process.

In the meantime, regarding delegates: Obama picked up two more Edwards delegates and supers Pilar Lujan (GU) and Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA) crossed paths switching (Lujan to Clinton, Cardoza to Obama.) Also for Obama since the last update: Rep. Jim Costa (CA), Rep. Jim Courtney (CT), and DNC members Scott Brennan (IA), Jenny Greenleaf (OR), and Wayne Dowdy (MS). (In the meantime, Clinton picked up 2 more UADs from Ohio and Massachusetts.) Thus, the most recent tally: Obama +7, Clinton +2. Sen. Obama is now 57 delegates away from the (current) magic number of 2025.

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