CommunityFDL Main Blog

Sunday Late Nite: Veepstakes, the “NO!” Chronicles

Last Sunday, we had some fun as we chatted about the good, great, and fabulous recommendations we might make to Senator Obama, were he to ask our advice about a Vice Presidential nominee.  Tonight, I thought we might flip that argument on its head, and talk about the "No," "NO!" and "Hell, NO!" characters who currently garner attention from the chatterati.

Let’s give Congressman Barney Frank the floor first, since he’s made an eloquent statement about one prospect whose candidacy simply will not go away.  As it rightfully should:

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Rothenberg Political Report Friday that he “would have a hard time voting for the [Democratic] ticket” if Sen. Barack Obama picks former United States Sen. Sam Nunn as his vice-presidential running-mate.


Frank argues that adding Nunn to the Democratic ticket would cost Obama support in the gay community and would make it impossible for the Massachusetts Congressman to be a strong advocate for the Democratic Presidential nominee.

“I would be virtually useless in trying to convince other gays and lesbians to support the ticket,” said Frank.

Sounds to me like Congressman Frank plans to sit on the porch if it’s an Obama/Nunn ticket.

The public spotlight most brightly shone on Sam Nunn more than fifteen years ago, so perhaps we need a reminder from Wayne Besen about why, exactly, Sam Nunn is unacceptable to forward-thinking progressive Democrats and Americans:

For those who don’t remember, candidate Bill Clinton promised to repeal the ban on openly gay service members. As president, he tried to follow through and a national uproar ensued. The opposition from conservative Republicans was to be expected, but Nunn’s fingerprints were all over the bloody knife that protruded from Clinton’s back.

Nunn called for a public "field hearing" to ostensibly find out what men and women in uniform thought of lifting the ban. In an orchestrated publicity stunt, Nunn escorted the national media into the attack submarine, the Montpelier, and the submarine tender Emory S. Land. A May 11, 1993 New York Times article vividly described the scene:

Under the glare of television cameras in cramped sleeping quarters, mess halls and even shower rooms aboard several ships and submarines toured by the senators here at America’s largest Navy base….on the Land, 90 women share four showers and four toilets. On the Montpelier, most of the all-male crew sleeps in triple bunks separated by a corridor two feet wide. There are 117 bunks for 147 men, so crewmembers take turns sharing the same beds.

In a flash, Nunn lowered the tenor of the debate and created visions of promiscuous, unpatriotic gays and lesbians transforming our Navy into a hapless fleet of Sodomy Subs. All people wanted to talk about after this monstrosity was bunk beds.

Gratuitously piling it on, Nunn held a meticulously planned hearing in a 1,100 seat military auditorium. In a typical Nunn effort to be "fair" and "elevate" the debate, fifteen of the seventeen uniformed speakers chosen were adamantly against lifting the ban.

The Nunn Show ensured America heard from people like Petty Officer 2d Class Darlene Harris who said, "I’ve been in berths where there were a lot of lesbians, and it was terrible."

Nunn’s theatrics and fear that gays in uniform would engage in "hand holding" and "kissing" lead directly to the disastrous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy that has robbed the U.S. military of more than 11,000 service members, including at least 58 Arabic linguists. A GAO report released in 2005 estimated that DADT has cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million and the loss of "valuable personnel over the last decade." Yet, despite his direct role in weakening our military and making America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Nunn is considered a defense expert.

Sam Nunn’s attacks on Clinton, and his policy proposal regarding gays in the military, may very well have stemmed from an orchestrated campaign in 1992 to deny him the Defense Secretary job:

Senator Sam Nunn removed two aides a decade ago for being gay, and gay rights groups are now contending that his action disqualifies him from a post in a Clinton Administration.

Mr. Nunn, the Georgia Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has confirmed that he asked the two aides to leave because of their homosexuality. He says he had no choice because his office deals in sensitive security matters and the two men, because of their homosexuality, were considered security risks by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department. The agencies contended that being homosexual made the men vulnerable to blackmail, even though both were open about their homosexuality.

A man who would sacrifice our national security, and the careers of thousands of loyal and brave servicemembers, to a personal vendetta about a job he didn’t get — and didn’t deserve — is not the kind of leader Barack Obama wants living at the Naval Observatory.

Chris Bowers provides a handy list, in case you confront a Democrat who thinks Sam Nunn would be an excellent running mate or an excellent Veep:

Putting Nunn on the ticket would be an open admission by Barack Obama that John McCain and Hillary Clinton are right: Obama does not have the experience to be President, and does not cross the "Commander in Chief" threshold. Rather than helping Obama out on the "experience" front, it would emphasize his lack of experience.

What has Nunn done in his time since leaving office? It isn’t exactly change you can believe in:

He is a board member of the following publicly held corporations: Chevron Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell Computer Corporation, General Electric Company.

Putting a 70-year old, white, southern, corporate dude on the ticket would almost entirely wipe away any notion that Obama is a "change" candidate.  Sam Nunn is more status quo than David Broder. He is the least "change" candidate one can find.

Less than a year ago, Nunn was openly talking of running against the Democratic nominee in the general election and accepting the top position on the "Unity 08" ticket.

The DLC was originally founded in order to elect Sam Nunn President. I’m not kidding.

So — no Nunn run.

As if a right-wing, anti-civil rights, DLC corporatist was not bad enough, there is another horrible, no-good, very bad idea being floated among the Villagers.  Just in case the Democratic base wasn’t completely demoralized by our party leadership’s sellout of the Fourth Amendment: put a GOP in the Veep slot!

Oddly, even Arianna Huffington suggested Nebraska’s retiring GOP Senator Chuck Hagel when she appeared on Jay Leno earlier this month. Hagel says he’s open to endorsing Obama, surely the first step in being considered. Villager pundit David Ignatius presents the Hagel case:

By reaching outside the Democratic Party for his vice presidential nominee — tapping Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, say, or independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg from New York — Obama would in an instant demonstrate that he truly means to change the divisive, lose-lose politics of Washington. It would offer a unity government for a country that seems to want one.

There are all sorts of practical arguments against such an unconventional choice — not least that it would upset many of Obama’s liberal Democratic supporters. But it would make a powerful statement that Obama really does want to govern in a different way. It would make "change we can believe in" more than a slogan.

By choosing a veteran politician outside his own party, Obama would solve three problems at once: He would undercut the bipartisan appeal of his maverick GOP rival, Sen. John McCain; he would ease voters’ fears about his own youth and inexperience; and he would find a compelling alternative to Hillary Clinton, who for all her virtues as a vice president would come with heavy baggage — not least the role of her husband, who is even harder to imagine as Second Laddie than as First.

Moreover, Obama needs to counter the charge that he talks a better game about bipartisanship and change than he has actually delivered. His voting record in Illinois and Washington mostly has been that of a conventional liberal, and there are precious few examples of him taking political risks to work across party lines.

In other words, the case for Chuck Hagel is all about giving David Broder a stiffy.  Fellow Nebraskan Bob Kerrey tells why Obama probably won’t pick Hagel:

"Chuck is, I would say, a movement conservative," Kerrey, who considers Hagel a friend, said. The American Conservative Union says Hagel has voted the way it wants on nearly 85 percent of what it considers key votes over his career. Getting him nominated at a convention that may already be somewhat fractious after the long primary battle would be tough. "It’s hard to imagine that (delegates) are going to vote on someone at the Democratic Convention who’s anti-choice, anti-civil rights for gays and anti-gun control," Kerrey said. "It’s not impossible, but it’s bumping right up on the edge."

Another across-the-aisle choice mentioned by the Illustrious Mentioner ("some") is Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, with whom Barack Obama worked on nuclear disarmament issues and for whom he has deep respect. Muncie Free Press blogger Brian Howey rates the odds of an Obama/Lugar ticket:

Sen. Richard Lugar: First, Lugar is too old to be McCain’s vice presidential nominee. McCain needs a youth. Prior to the May primary, we were talking with a reporter at NPR and the subject of Lugar’s relationship with Obama came up. "You know about the rumors," the reporter said. No, what? "An Obama-Lugar ticket." Get out!

Actually, there is some logic. Obama has talked about ending the politics of usual in Washington. So what better way than to pick a Republican vice president? Second, he and Lugar have a mutually warm relationship. There are some who believe that Obama needs an experienced Washington hand with considerable foreign exposure. Lugar fits all those bills. The idea of having Lugar’s voice steadily in a President Obama’s ear is a credible one, though extremely, extremely unlikely. Odds: 100 to 1.

And here is a recent statement from Dick Lugar after a recent John McCain foreign policy speech on nuclear proliferation, where he shows very little daylight between his own views and those of his party’s presumptive nominee:

"Today Senator McCain articulated a change of course for the United States on arms control and nonproliferation. I am pleased that Senator McCain would make achieving these arms control goals a priority. Senator McCain has affirmed his intent to work with Congress and the international community to aggressively address the existential threats posed by nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and materials. He states that direct dialogue with Russia and China must focus on a treaty-based strategy, with strong, legally-binding verification measures, to continue to reduce nuclear arsenals around the world. He correctly identifies the expansion of the Nunn-Lugar Program as critical to U.S. arms control efforts. Equally important he cites the need to improve the abilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency to detect illegal weapons programs, strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and construct a nuclear fuel bank to address the spread of dangerous enrichment and reprocessing technologies. The determined pursuit of these goals by the next President would yield vital national security benefits for the United States."

Sorry, but I can’t see a pivot from this statement in support of John McCain to being on the ticket with Barack Obama.  Nor, frankly, would I want to see that  pivot. Anybody who has so recently flattered McCain with any understanding at all of foreign policy, when he continues to demonstrate he has none that isn’t clearly labelled Bush/Cheney, does not deserve consideration by our nominee. 

After a fifteen-month-long, exhilarating and hard-fought Democratic nominating process, does our nominee really need to choose someone outside the party in order to prove that he’s the candidate of Change?  Barack Obama doesn’t really need to cater to Villager Broderist wisdom that his backup should be from the other party — a party that has given us the unremitting and unrelenting disaster of the past seven years.

These people — the GOP — don’t deserve another chance to have their hands near the reins of power anytime soon. Not another chance, for a very long time.  And the Vice Presidencies of both Al Gore and Dick Cheney have proven, in vastly different ways, the closeness of the Veep to the levers of power.  I hope Barack Obama doesn’t squander the possibilities of Change by listening to High Broderists about a two-party ticket.

Our nominee need only look to the GOP this year to see the kind of chaos created in the Presidential nominating process when the Vice-President is not a logical successor after eight years. Does Barack Obama really mean to doom our chances to continue his successful presidency in 2016 by choosing a GOP as his running mate?

Oh — and both Lugar and Hagel, as extremely conservative GOPs on all the issues you and I hold dear, are FORCED-BIRTH PROPONENTS. Lugar has a 40% pro-choice score from NARAL; Hagel manages to get a zero.  I think we know the kind of judges these guys would nominate, should they get the chance. And the kind of advice they’ll proffer in Administration councils.

On this key issue alone, both Lugar and Hagel are unacceptable.  How can we convince voters confused by John McCain’s purposely media-fuzzed support of forced birth if we have a proponent on the ticket ourselves?  We need to clarify to Americans that John McCain is against choice, against Roe v Rade, and in favor of appointing judges like Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas.  Mixing up our ticket on this high-value issue is a non-starter, and a no-brainer. 

So those are my "Hell, NO!" candidates who’ve been suggested to share the ticket with Barack Obama.

Who’s on your list — and why?

{YouTube trailer from Nuns on the Run courtesy of gimliwhatazor} 

{YouTube of The Daily McBush from JedReport}

Previous post

SC: Fundie state plate challenged in fed lawsuit

Next post

Poll: 70 Percent In Jamaica Oppose Any Rights For Gays

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge