Tag Archives: Intelligence

Vice President Graham?

Add another name to the list:

Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), an Obama adviser, offered several names to the list of potential vice presidential choices, including those of former Florida governor and senator Bob Graham; Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, a top Clinton supporter; and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, an Obama supporter who could assuage the disappointment of women who wanted the chance to vote for the first female president. (emphasis mine)

dday, writing at Washington Monthly, succinctly makes the case for Graham:

I think the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the run-up to the war, the guy who knew that the Bush Administration was lying and told his colleagues all about it, who voted against the authorization, is someone who would amplify that message on the war. He’s beloved in Florida and that might help there, but that’s not the point. Graham is very intelligent and provides an authoritative voice on foreign policy issues. I don’t know that he’s the best campaigner, but again I think that stuff is kind of overblown.

On the surface Graham is a perfect choice. He’s got all the qualification usually demanded of Obama’s VP. Foreign policy experience? Check. Executive experience? Check. Anti-War? Check. Swing-state? Check.

But Graham has real downsides too. Setting aside the campaigner issue, which I’d agree is overblown, the biggest one is age. Graham is 72, the same age as John McCain. Picking him would answer all the questions about McCain’s age is one fell swoop. Plus, at that age, he wouldn’t be able to run in 8 years or continue Obama’s legacy after his presidency. Secondly, Graham has been out of politics for 4 years now. He was a famously skilled politician and campaigner in Florida, where he held work days where he did the jobs of his constituents for a day. But he wasn’t nearly that good a politician when he ran in 2004 he may be losing or have lost his political touch, which would be disastrous for a VP nominee. Thirdly, while Graham may be well remembered in Florida, he hasn’t faced an election in the state since 1998. Florida has changed immensely in the last decade, and Graham hasn’t had to win an election since before Jeb Bush won office. Since then Florida has become vastly more Republican and there would be real questions about whether Graham could even put Florida on the map.

That’s not to say Obama shouldn’t tap Graham to play a role in an Obama administration, or in the campaign for that matter. Graham would be a great surrogate on foreign policy issues, particularly with regards to intelligence issues, and could play a key role in an Obama administration as a Secretary of Defense or Director of National Intelligence. Intelligence policy is an area where Obama has shown real interest and has some unique proposals, such as insulating the DNI from the political process by appointing him for a fixed term, like the Federal Reserve Chairman. Graham, with is long background in intelligence policy and record of having been one of the few to get the Iraq intelligence right, could be just the man to head up those reforms.


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