In my circle (an expression I want to revive), Joe Biden is being mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate. Of course, Biden is already vice president, and my circle is not exactly Hillary Clinton's, but more than any of the others mentioned, Biden would balance the ticket. He's not black, and he's not Hispanic, and he's not a woman, but he is an open-handed, warm-hearted, old-fashioned pol. He's the politician Clinton, try as she might, simply cannot be.
- Vice President Joe Biden
Alas, Biden might already have taken himself out of consideration. "I'm not interested in re-upping for VP," he told George Stephanopoulos the other day. "I'll do anything I can to help [Hillary] win. And I think she's going to win, but I have been proud to serve for eight years as vice president, and I think that's enough."
Statements such as this are the political equivalents of "the check is in the mail." An expression of non-interest is traditional in these matters, politics being the last place where no does not mean no. Stay close to the phone, Joe.
Let us now look over the field. They are, of course, marvelous people, but this being presidential politics with ticket-balancing and all, they are also categories. Two of them are black males — Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick (D). Three are Hispanics — Representative Xavier Becerra (D-California.), Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. They are good men all, even though all of them could pass through an airport with no one asking for a selfie.
Clinton is also said to be considering Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. They are the white guys, some from battleground states, but none of them have vaunted political organizations — not that anyone does anymore. Then comes former NATO commander James Stavridis, an admiral. The lone woman being mentioned is Senator Elizabeth Warren, the only one who has managed to attract a national constituency of her own.
So, talking strictly categories, what do we have? The primaries showed beyond a doubt that Clinton is beloved by African Americans. Putting a black male on the ticket is not going to help any. Donald Trump, with his lazy denunciation of David Duke, has already seen to it that he is not going to draw more than half a dozen back votes.
Hispanics: Here again, Trump has a problem. He has so alienated the Hispanic community with his call for mass deportations and his characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists, that if he gets more than 100 votes out of an estimated 55 million, it will be prima facie case of voter fraud.
A woman: There's already one on the ticket, and Trump is glued to a passé, Sinatra-style sexism. He just loves the broads. But the women don't love him.
White males: This is Trump's supposed fan base, but none of the white males being mentioned have what it takes to appeal to the Trump types. As for Stavridis, Clinton does not need her foreign policy credentials augmented. She's a regular Bismarck. Besides, Stavridis is not a politician, and a presidential campaign is not for amateurs. One bush-league comment and there goes the news cycle.
So we come down to Biden. If anyone can appeal to Trump's white voters, it's Biden. He's a great campaigner, a regular pol, who got elected to the Senate seven times. He is, in FDR's phrase for Al Smith, a "happy warrior" who could bring some joy to what could be a dour ticket. Even better, he could be president in an instant, which is what the job is all about.
Reconsider, Joe. You won't have to move (such a hassle), and Clinton could use you. And although the wits in the media will call you Vice President for Life, you'll be out there taking on Trump. You were born for this fight. Uncle Sam needs you.
Richard Cohen writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.