By John Seiler | For Montana Watchdog
Vice President Brian Schweitzer? It doesn’t quite have the ring of President Brian Schweitzer. But it would be a giant step toward the Big Ring for the rancher and outgoing governor of a state with only three electoral votes.
Schweitzer has been playing coy all year about running for president. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
But the reality is he and any other Democratic candidate for president, including Vice President Joe Biden, would find standing in the path to the party’s nomination the formidable figure of Hillary Clinton. Current suffering from a stomach virus and soon to leave her post as secretary of state, by the time the primary grind begins in three years she will be tanned, rested and Botox’d.
Her candidacy also will be buttressed by her husband, former President Clinton. His boffo performance at the Democratic National Convention, roundly considered more inspirational than President Obama’s, showed what an asset he would be for her.
Hillary’s performance as a U.S. senator and secretary of state has pulled her out from Bill’s shadow. The historical evidence also indicates that she really was a “co-president” during her husband’s term in office from 1993 to 2001. That confirms Bill Clinton’s campaign promise in 1992 that voting for him would be a “twofer” made up of himself and his wife.
Running to be the first woman president, Hillary would be disinclined to make her sidekick another woman or a racial minority. That would be too much change to believe in.
Rather, as did Obama in choosing Biden as his running mate in 2008, it would make sense to pick a white guy of the type that always has held the vice president’s office. Schweitzer, given his popularity in Montana and rancher resume, could be just the guy for the ticket.
In a section of the latest volume in his biography of Lyndon Johnson, “The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power,” Robert Caro writes how LBJ had “reconnoitered how many vice presidents had become president” as of 1960. “The answer was 10.”
Since 1960, the vice presidency has earned promotions for vice presidents Lyndon Johnson, George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon. And Al Gore nearly pulled it off but for that chad business in Florida in 2000. As a favorite saying of Johnson had it, “Power is where power goes.”
No vice president is likely to amass the power Dick Cheney held under President George W. Bush. Cheney’s long years of service in both the executive and legislative branches gave him experience and clout few have held. And Cheney’s veep power has become a byword of what presidents should not allow.
LBJ, in Caro’s account, held such power at first as vice president, but quickly was stuffed in a corner by both President Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, the attorney general who burned with a longtime hatred of LBJ, which LBJ reciprocated.
President Obama has kept Biden as an informed adviser, but still well in the background. If he becomes vice president, Schweitzer likely would be in the Biden mold.
The Montanan even could end up rivaling Biden as a figure of ridicule. The late-night jokesters need material. Schweitzer almost inevitably would be portrayed as a gun-toting hick, an uncouth Mountain Man.
Of 2008 GOP presidential nominee, Schweitzer guaranteed, “I don’t know a single Republican in Montana who would get in a fight in a bowling alley for John McCain.” The opposite likely is true. McCain is a decorated war hero and POW who survived torture by the North Vietnamese communists. Schweitzer has no military service.
Talking with actor Jay Thomas at the Democratic National Convention, Schweitzer detailed how to castrate a bull. About which humorist Dave Barry quipped, “Gov. Schweitzer is leaving office in January; if we don’t elect this man, at bare minimum, president of the United States, we are even stupider than I think we are.”
The jokes are just beginning.