I have a suggestion for Barack Obama: that he choose Ken Salazar, U.S.
Senator from Colorado, as his running mate.
I do not really know Salazar. But I've met him twice. The first time was
at the wedding of a truly brainy (and quite hilarious) former student of
mine who had worked for Salazar when he was Colorado's attorney
general. We talked about the already obvious collapse of the social
contract that had kept America together in the previous three decades...and
we drank and rocked with the Latin music, so that I am none too sure of the
coherence of my side of the conversation.
The second time was at the Brattle Street manse of Swanee Hunt, daughter
of H.L. Hunt and Bill Clinton's ambassador to Vienna. It was a gathering
of the usual rich Cambridge liberals, asking the usual rich Cambridge
liberal questions and expecting the usual rich Cambridge liberal
answers. My memory is that Salazar disappointed a bit on the latter,
although he pleased me by describing a world where ideological conflict was
real and held stakes for the players. Otherwise, it was a good rich
Cambridge liberal discussion. As I recall, much money was raised for his
senate race against Pete Coors, scion of the Coors beer fortune and a
right-wing ideological paladin.
Here are reasons for Obama picking Salazar:
1. He is a passionate and practical conservationist. This is still an
abstract issue but it has, I believe, much popular feeling behind it which
Democrats have rarely been able to activate because they themselves have
been reluctant to tackle it.
2. He is a fifth generation Hispanic American and is a prototype of how
Latino descendants of immigrants (and immigrants themselves) can prosper in
American and enrich America at the same time. He would help the ticket
beyond measure in toss-up jurisdictions like Colorado, Texas, other states
in the southwest, Florida, and states with big cities that have large
Hispanic populations, populations that without Salazar on the ticket might
stay at home on election day because of the discontent fomented by Hillary
and mischief-making hubby.
3. He has demonstrated that he can bridge differences within the Democratic
caucus and across party lines with the Republicans, which as vice president
(and presiding officer of the Senate) he would have ample opportunities to do.
4. He can keep Democratic hawks in the party. Losing these voters, plenty
in number, would be an utter disaster, perhaps the difference between
McCain and Obama in the White House.
I know that Obama may owe something to Bill Richardson for his
endorsement. But Richardson would reawaken the memories of poor Monica
Lewinsky, whom he was ready to hire at the U.N. to keep her quiet.
There's also talk of Sam Nunn, who was a U.S. Senator from Georgia for
almost a quarter of a century. But he's 70 years old, only two years
younger than McCain, which throws away the age issue -- a tacky issue, to be
sure, but an issue nonetheless.
Among the other mentioned by the great mentioner, some are just dumb. But
we've had dumber presidents. What is his name? That is, GHWB's