Through the Looking Glass of Veep Picks

A disastrous choice from 40 years ago helps shed light on Election 2012

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Democratic presidential nominee Senator George McGovern, right, and his running mate Senator Thomas Eagleton, during their campaign in 1972

It was July 1972, and in the Black Hills of South Dakota, two men sat across from each other in Cabin 22 at Sylvan Lake Lodge, near Custer. They were the nominees of the Democratic Party for President and Vice President of the United States, and they were players in a drama that would soon force the No. 2 off the ticket, creating history’s most powerful case study against hasty or uninformed vice-presidential choices.

(MORE: Who Should Romney Pick for Vice President?)

The story of Thomas Eagleton’s brief nomination as George McGovern’s running mate looms large in political memory because of the revelation in the days after the Democratic National Convention in Miami in 1972 that he had undergone electric-shock therapy to combat depression — a fact kept from McGovern and thus from the Democratic delegates.

In an engaging new book about the episode by Joshua M. Glasser, The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis, we are transported back to the hectic hours of the 1972 race, to the great hopes of the liberal New Politics and the cold realities of the Nixon White House (the Watergate break-in had occurred in June). The conventional interpretation of the Eagleton episode is that it led to the exhaustive vetting process that subsequent campaigns have used to avoid their own Eagleton moments. That’s what’s unfolding now in the Romney camp as it prepares to announce the GOP nominee’s choice for Vice President.

In the case of 1972, McGovern had really wanted Ted Kennedy, but the last brother refused. Senators Walter Mondale of Minnesota and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin also declined. The tribal complexities of Democratic politics sidelined Boston Mayor Kevin White. That left Eagleton, an attractive, young (at 42) liberal Catholic from a border state.

(MORE: The ‘Veepstakes’ Begins: A Brief History of Vice-Presidential Vetting)

McGovern did not know Eagleton well, but time was running out on the Thursday of the convention. The call was made to Eagleton’s hotel rooms — which were filled with aides and a radio reporter from St. Louis who tape-recorded Eagleton’s side of the conversation with McGovern in which the nomination was offered. Frank Mankiewicz of the McGovern campaign got on the phone after the offer was made and asked Eagleton, “No skeletons rattling in your closet?”

“Right,” said Eagleton.

The hasty nature of the pick was of a piece with the political style of 1972, the year when floor activity pushed McGovern’s acceptance speech to about 3 a.m. Eastern time. The McGovernites wanted to change politics, to take power from the bosses and certainly from the Nixonites, and so a certain amount of chaos was inevitable — and in character. (“I’ll tell you one thing,” said a Kennedy aide. “If [Eagleton had] pulled this on a Kennedy, we’d find his body at the base of the cliff in the morning.”)

When word of Eagleton’s medical history surfaced in the ensuing days, McGovern hesitated to take action for the most humane of reasons: McGovern’s own daughter Terry suffered from depression and alcoholism. As he sat with Eagleton, he was torn between the political and the moral. “I could not in effect punish [Eagleton] for being a victim of depression,” McGovern later wrote.

In the end, McGovern had to take action, and Eagleton was replaced by Sargent Shriver after McGovern realized that he could not risk putting Eagleton in a position where a relapse could prevent him from performing his duties in office.

(MORE: Do Attack Ads Work?)

An additional conclusion from Glasser’s book, though, is that the vice-presidential choice — and the process that leads to that choice — can shed interesting light not only on what presidential nominees hope to avoid (a disaster) but also on the inescapably human element in politics. Four years ago, John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin came from the Arizona Senator’s gambling side; Barack Obama’s of Joe Biden from the Democratic nominee’s clinical assessment of what the ticket needed in November and what someone with Biden’s wide experience could bring to a White House led by a young President.

For Romney, the choices of Senator Rob Portman of Ohio or former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota could signal that he is at heart more comfortable in the party of George H.W. Bush than of George W. Bush.

What was telling about those 18 days in 1972 was McGovern’s personal decency but ultimate political realism. When we know Romney’s choice, we’ll be able to see, at least in part, what he values — an invaluable window on GOP nominee who remains opaque to many.

GRAPHIC: The Romney Veepstakes

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Maccabeus
Maccabeus

The Drudge Report has a headline this afternoon that reads: "Obama: Romney Wants VP Petraeus":  http://drudgereport.com/flashg...

What do you folks think of General David Petraeus as a VP candidate for Romney? He would certainly bring a measure of gravitas to the GOP ticket, and Obama and Co. would have a hard time criticizing him or digging up dirt on him, since Obama chose him to head the C.I.A.  Obviously, Obama trusts and respects him.  Now Petraeus would be a very bold pick for Romney, and very shrewd too. 

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

If it is not Barclay it is another one in the economy headers  Standard Chartered Bank today came under the

scanner in the US for USD 250 billion worth secret transactions with Iran and for deficient money laundering controls in

outsourcing of work to India -- thus exposing the US financial system to terror

financing and other risks. "For almost ten years, SCB (Standard

Chartered Bank) schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from regulators

roughly 60,000 secret transactions, involving at least USD 250 billion, and

reaping SCB hundreds of millions of dollars in fees," the New York State

Department of Financial Services said in an order against the UK-based global

banking giant. "SCB's actions left the US financial system vulnerable

to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes, and deprived

law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner

of criminal activity." As per the 27-page order, SCB had assured the

New York state in May 2010 that it would take immediate steps to comply with the

US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions. However, another

regulatory examination in 2011 found continuing and significant Anti Money

Laundering failures. Among these, the bank was outsourcing its

"entire OFAC compliance process for the New York branch to Chennai, India,

with no evidence of any oversight or communication between the Chennai and the

New York offices." The OFAC is the designated US government agency for preparing

list of entities with which US citizens and entities are barred from doing any

business. The order against Stanchart comes close on the heel of the US

Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations report on July 17 charging

another UK-based global bank HSBC of exposing the US financial system to terrorist financing and

money laundering risks. HSBC's staff in India had also come under the

scanner for deficiencies in their role as "offshore reviewers" of the

global banking giant's compliance to safety mechanism against money laundering

and terrorist financing. I thank you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

This was a great article until I saw the line about an opaque Romney. That is just media goo and nonsense. Romney is known, he is transparent and yet people keep looking for more.  When a person shows you who they are, what more do you want? He is a rich man who barely hob nobbed with people when he was governor. Entered through the back door in the office, avoided folks and acts as though the middle class is vermin. What more do you want? A 100, 000. oo bet on another debate on TV?????  He is probably a nice husband to his wife, but in public life, he stinks. What could be more transparent than his record and his inability to relate to people outside the tight knit cabal.

Do you think Romney has a deep personal relationship with people who are dark skinned Hispanics in the middle class??? He probably would assume they spoke Ebonics. Give me a break. Romney is not opaque, he is distant, aloof, ambitious and wealthy enough to run for an office that he obviously cannot handle.  hey, he failed as governor!  

He ran as a liberal in MA and ripped our state to shreds by basically using it as a stepping stone in his political journey. Under Romney MA suffered. Romney has the dubious distinction of being the most changeable politician that has run for national office in recent times. 

He simply does what is expedient, period.  As is the motto of many extremely wealthy business folks,"The end justifies the means", kapeesh. Romney lives it. He is not opaque.  He is an adroit master of disguise. He stands for .... I dunno.. everything??? Nothing????  

Then during the Republican primaries, he destroyed his opponents in the manner that only Romney can. He turned their strengths into weaknesses, carpet bombed them in ads and humiliated them in debates.  I was aghast at the manner in which he destroyed Gingrich. Gingrich can be scary but he is a patriot and did a lot for the party. He did not deserve the treatment Romney gave him. It was almost amoral.   It showed a horrid streak that transcended political competition, and bordered on being unconscionable. Gingrich was misrepresented and abused in so many ads. It was awful.  Those acts by Romney confirmed all we had thought of  him in MA. Ambitious, detached, entitled and uncaring! 

Politicians change sides on issues depending on a ton of factors, especially based on public perception. But at the core of most politicians, you know who they really are. McCain might be a lot of things but we know that he has character.  Even if he is now responding to the extreme positions in the party, at heart, McCain is still a man who wants to do well for the country. A Veteran ill equipped for the office of president but well meaning.  Romney? Not so. 

For Romney, his pick of Veep will be of course as expected and normal, it will be someone who will bring some value to the ticket. In addition, it will reveal the empty and unprincipled veep as a person who is a mere shell of a man, an  ambitious and malleable soul, ready to do and say anything to be elected into office.

Maybe if Rimney had been more professional during the primaries, his likeability ratings would probably not be so low.  He confirmed our worst fears of him.

http://blackrepublicanandmywor...

  

daniel155
daniel155

Do you actually know Romney?  If not then how do you know he thinks the middle class is vermin?  You are kind of laying it on a bit too thick.

dawn orthen
dawn orthen

do you actually know romney? if not then how do you know that he doesnt think of the middle class as vermin?

daniel155
daniel155

You sound like Harry Reid.  The first poster was claiming to have some insight on Romney so I called him on it.  I assume that he would never be elected governor of a liberal state or become the presumptive nominee of one of the major political parties if he felt that way.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

And we care about Romney's VP pick why? 

Maccabeus
Maccabeus

For two very important and related reasons: (assuming Romney wins)

(1) He will be one heart beat away from the presidency if anything happened to Romney.

(2) He will be next in line, so to speak, to run for the presidency after Romney leaves office.

 As a VP candidate, he can help or hinder Romney, depending on who is chosen.  He can help him if he is a charismatic figure with good public speaking skills; if he comes from a battle ground state; if he can clearly and knowledgeably articulate Romney's positions; if he is presidential material himself, etc.  He can hurt Romney if he is boring, lacks knowledge (like Sarah Palin hurt McCain in 2008), and well, acts and speaks like Joe Biden.

sacredh
sacredh

To see if he gets to pick or his masters are calling the shots. Comedic value to0.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

They would never pick Rubio, "those" people aren't welcome in that club. 

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

I think the "guys" will get together over drinks at the club and figure it out. Maybe during a round of golf, or in-between sets of tennis, no squash. LOL

sacredh
sacredh

NPP, Romney had the big money backing of the republican establishment and the TP favorites couldn't muster up the big bucks to really compete with Romney. Every TP candidate took their turn at the top and then fell by the wayside.

.

This really makes me wonder if the big money guys are going to risk a TPer as the VP candidate. I don't think that Newt, Herman or either Rick really had crossover appeal. The republican establishment wanted Romney and now Romney is facing some serious questions about his tax returns and why he's refusing to release them. I know they're rich, but how much are they willing to throw away?

Dgroove
Dgroove

I am so tired of all this talk about Romney's Taxes! I just wish there was some way he could prove he paid a lot of taxes and shut Democrats up.

dawn orthen
dawn orthen

 NUH-UH

BECAUSE IM A RICH WHITE MALE

AND YOU PEOPLE DONT NEED TO KNOW THOSE THINGS, ESPECCIALLY THAT I PAID 1,234,567 ON TAXES LAST YEAR.

sacredh
sacredh

lol. That was pretty good.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

Just release his taxes, and close the issue? 

Pnnto
Pnnto

I think Dgroove was deploying snark.

oped sat
oped sat

Looks like Christie is going to be the nominee as there is news that his wife quit her Wall Street job to prepare for the campaign ahead.

Maccabeus
Maccabeus

Christie would be a very bold pick.  He puts his foot in his mouth as much as Joe Biden, but at least he does so intelligently.  People like Christie for his plain, bold speaking.  I think sometimes he says what others would only like to say.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

No, to start packing his lunch, a full time job I'm sure. 

sacredh
sacredh

That was really cruel.

.

Mrs. Christie: Honey, what do you want on your hamburger?

.

Chris: A hotdog.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

Hey he is working with a personal trainer, I'm sure that guy has Christie's before and hmmm, way before pic on his website. LOL

rene591
rene591

does not matter- country's in trouble need to devote 8 hours of debate on the two most important items

Debt and Empire

Firozali A.Mulla
Firozali A.Mulla

If it is not Barclay it is another one in the economy headers  Standard

Chartered Bank today came under the scanner in the US for USD

250 billion worth secret transactions with Iran and for

deficient money laundering controls

in outsourcing of work to India -- thus exposing the US financial system to

terror financing and other risks. "For almost ten years, SCB

(Standard Chartered Bank) schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from

regulators roughly 60,000 secret transactions, involving at least USD 250

billion, and reaping SCB hundreds of millions of dollars in fees," the New

York State Department of Financial Services said in an order against the

UK-based global banking giant. "SCB's actions left the US financial

system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt

regimes, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used

to track all manner of criminal activity." As per the 27-page order,

SCB had assured the New York state in May 2010 that it would take immediate

steps to comply with the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions. However,

another regulatory examination in 2011 found continuing and significant Anti

Money Laundering failures. Among these, the bank was outsourcing its

"entire OFAC compliance process for the New York branch to Chennai, India,

with no evidence of any oversight or communication between the Chennai and the

New York offices." The OFAC is the designated US government agency

for preparing list of entities with which US citizens and entities are barred from

doing any business. The order against Stanchart comes close on the heel of

the US Senate's Permanent Committee on Investigations report on July 17

charging another UK-based global bank HSBC of exposing the

US financial system to terrorist financing and money laundering risks. HSBC's

staff in India had also come under the scanner for deficiencies in their role

as "offshore reviewers" of the global banking giant's compliance to

safety mechanism against money laundering and terrorist financing. I thank

you Firozali A.Mulla DBA

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

 the gop think putting tokens=the white house

 former governor of alaska=women vote

fake plumber= blue collar vote

former godfather pizza ceo=bl ack vote

Lied About His Cuban Exile Immigrant Background"=A Cuban on the

ballot means nothing to the general population of the Hispanic

community.

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

By the way God Fathers pizza is pretty bad, always was.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Romney's needs would fill a whiteboard.  He needs someone charismatic, with foreign policy credentials (after that glorious trip he just finished) and plays to the base and somehow doesn't overshadow the top of the ticket.

I think he will end up focusing on the last one and get someone who's as plain and straight laced as he is - and that's purely on my read of who Romney is.  Romney plays everything "safe".  The safe play is to have a capable and experienced but fairly boring individual who's respected but not necessarily loved by most groups.  I still think it's going to be Pawlenty or someone of that mold.  I could be very wrong, but I don't think I am...

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I think two governors on the ticket isn't particularly good. A dark horse might be John Thune.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Dark horse?  How about... Rafalca?

Check the picture... she's about as "dark" as they come... and I hear she's not doing anything now.

And I'm fairly sure she'd never say anything to embarrass him.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

The number of "safe" plays that Romney makes that are ultimately stupid for some other reason is also an important characteristic about him.  That alone lets me not rule out Pawlenty.  That said, my point is that it's going to be someone of that mold - bland, experienced, respected.

And I know almost nobody outside of Presidential races, the respective majority/minority/speakers of house and senate, and the important cabinet people. As such, I don't know many alternates who fit that mold that weren't running this year.

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

I would agree it would a Pawlenty-type, but not Pawlenty himself.  Pawlenty brings no federal experience to the team.  I actually think Rob Portman is the favorite and I don't think Romney would pick someone without House or Senate experience.

Diecash1
Diecash1

I'm inclined to agree as T-Paw and Portman were my original guesses for Mitten's VP.  With any luck, he'll pick another Palin instead.  Those were good times...........

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

  

the gop think putting tokens=the white house

 former governor of alaska=women vote

fake plumber= blue collar vote

former godfather pizza ceo=bl ack vote

Lied About His Cuban Exile Immigrant Background"=A Cuban on the

ballot means nothing to the general population of the Hispanic

community.

Sollmann Electric Company small business vote=Another self-made man who

doesn't need any government help. but he was only able to finance his

business’s expansion to a new, larger location with a loan backed by a government program that enabled him to get a small business loan.

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

the gop think putting tokens=the white house

 former governor of alaska=women vote

fake plumber= blue collar vote

former godfather pizza ceo=bl ack vote

Lied About His Cuban Exile Immigrant Background"=A Cuban on the

ballot means nothing to the general population of the Hispanic

community.

Sollmann Electric Company small business vote=Another self-made man who doesn't need any government help. but he was only able to finance his business’s expansion to a new, larger location with a loan backed by a government program that enabled him to get a small business loan.

daniel155
daniel155

Talk about book promotion. I was expecting an article that covered many vice-presidential selections not just McGovern picking Eagleton.  That subject might make a long article but it seems too much for a book

wpeter
wpeter

yes, Sponge Joe Hair Plugs was a clinical assesment...where else could he find a plagiarist who revered BO enough to call him clean and nice looking...puh-leeeze

Richard
Richard

Whoever Romney picks for his VP, the drive-by media will deride and smear 24/hours day, 7 days/wk.  Example 1:  Predator drone attacks under Bush were unconstitutional genocide while five times more drone attacks under Obama are brilliant strategy by our wartime president.  Example 2:  Unemployment of 5.2% under Bush was national disgrace by incompetent Texan while 8.3% unemployment is historic economic milestone under always clever Obama.

 

The liberal media outlets are shameless.

Maccabeus
Maccabeus

Fox News reported today that "The Obama campaign launched a pre-emptive strike Tuesday on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, attempting to gather dirt on the potential vice presidential pick by asking Floridians to share with the campaign 'the good, bad and ugly' about him."  Ditto for Portman, and you can be sure they are also trying to dig up dirt on Paul Ryan and any other serious candidate for VP. The "objective" MSM will pick up on this and no doubt help the Obama Administration do its dirty work. The GOP does not need to follow suit, as everyone already knows who Joe Biden is.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

The "liberal media" put G.W. Bush in the White House by relentlessly smearing Al Gore.

They followed up that performance by helping Bush and Cheney lie us into Iraq.

Now the "liberal media" is insisting that Social Security be cut in order to pay for wars, deregulation, busts, and bailouts for rich people.

There is no "liberal media", Richard. 

~

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

You mean like Fox does to Biden everyday?

Maccabeus
Maccabeus

Biden does not need Fox News to do anything to him. He manages to put his foot in his mouth all by himself! 

Jeff
Jeff

lol, but the thing is, EVERYONE agrees with what fox says about biden. he's an idiot. HE is not a BFD.

daniel155
daniel155

Actually I am replying to Bombastic Lawyer.

You are laying it on too thick.  Anyone has the power to change the channel from FOX News or to turn it off.  Hannity and O'Reilly are opinion programs not news .  Your claims are laughable and it is even more laughable that you take a lot of space to make them.

You don't win very many cases do you?

daniel155
daniel155

Even if you are right, FOX News is just one part of one network.  Liberally slanted media still has the numbers advantage but not a monopoly like it used to be.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Fox News has made virtually ALL the Senior folk I know physically sickened by fear. Some Seniirs, I know and care about are so frightened that we keep coming up with ideas on how to block Fox News from their TV's. They are older and Republican, and want Conservative news.

Instead, Fox News is unrelenting in its direct and subtle references that Obama is some evil droid, a droid ' we' must dethrone.

Note, I did not say anything about election. I said 'dethrone' because that is the way Obama is portrayed. A wicked King, right from the pages of an old elementary school fairy tale.

I watch Fox News, sometimes. There are some serious and good folks on there whose positions are sincere and well reasoned. They have ideological differences with the president and thank God, this is a free country so their views are welcome. But many of them on Fox News fan so much fear,its unreal.

I was 'forced' to watch Issa on several Fox News shows, and at the end of the day his claims were so outlandish that I wondered if he was trying to win a place in the final two, on some of the deviant competitions that pass for 'Reality shows' these days.

I thought Olbermann was the angriest man on political TV, then I watched Bill O, Glenn B and Hannity. All these men on Fox are college drop-outs right? But now they get super rich by scaring Seniors. Fanning anger for big pay checks, and spreading lies they do not believe.

I think if the political ads get more scary, many Seniors might stay home. Especially the Evangelicals who think that Mormon and Muslim are the same thing. Since they peddle anti Muslim sentiments on the Far Right, they will reap the results of that fear. Fox is referred to as the FEAR channel by many moderates I know. It is the Conservative lying machine on steriods. MSNBC is better than CNN, even though it is sometimes toooo liberal. CNN can put a rock to sleep. :)

At least on MSNBC, no one is screaming that Obama was shipped here from Mars by aliens, aliens who are using Jedi mind tricks to make us re-elect Obama, instead of electing Romney the savior with no plan.

Romney, the candidate who hopes to run the greatest country in the world by saying that he is not Obama. And Oh, not forgetting the atrocious connection Romney continues to sell about his venture capitalist experience being the job making skill he will need to get the economy roaring, like he roared it for us in MA. LOL2ce.

Romney has no clear and strong vision for the future, and some of us still bear the scars from his MA stint as our governor. Anyway, listening to Fox News, it is apparent they have decided the elections can only be won by promoting horrendous lies and misrepresentations of the president.

Romney says he will not share his taxes with the public, yet he is running on his 'stellar' financial acumen, and running on his Bain record, but was not CEO when bad stuff happened. He just signed those documents as CEO because he is a signer of documents he does not read. Never mind that he is a lawyer and knows the implications of signing as CEO.

But, when folks ask about his personal finances, for a man running for the highest political office in the world, Fox News is aghast. Fox News keeps saying to ask Romney to share his financial affairs is a distraction. I mean, really Fox News? He is running for president and you think his personal financial stewardship is not relevant. I mean, really? What if Obama had adopted such a position? Rove would have said Obama was hidin' some pimpin' money or thuggish pay. Ha.

Fox News, your very own 24-hour cycle of "Fear Factor".

NoPartyPatriot
NoPartyPatriot

But isn't FOX the biggest, most watched news network? I mean 

when you hear the Fox "Ding: FOX ALERT"! you know there is some serious fair and balanced stuff coming your way! Or at least a train wreck, shooting, fire, etc.  They love the disaster stuff, got to keep the old folks watching Fox 24/7 scared out of their minds. LOL I have a poor neighbor that is afraid to go to the store for food, and he never turns off Fox news. "The country is going to hell, GD Obama!". Even though he hasn't worked in 15 years, draws 3 different federal pensions (military retirement, disability and Social Security)  and hasn't gone 10  miles from his house in at least 10 years.