I believe that the Democratic Party is the more cynical of our two parties. Not because Republicans are better people than Democrats, but because of what the two parties are trying to accomplish. Democrats want fundmentally to transform America through redistributionist policies that will make us more like Europe. But most Americans don’t want the country fundamentally transformed in that manner. Thus, Democrats must be less open about what they want to do. This forces them to be more cynical.
I recognize, though, that this analysis resonates, if at all, only with Republicans. A liberal blogger, no doubt, could make a case that Republicans are more cynical than Democrats, and that case would quickly gain acceptance among Dems. For this reason, it usually is a waste of time to assert the general superiority of one political party over the other.
But suppose we look at the last three vice presidential nominees of the two parties. Barack Obama surely is far too intelligent to take Joe Biden seriously. Indeed, his initial reaction, as a Senator, to Clueless Joe says it all. During one of Biden’s lengthy discourses, Obama reportedly wrote a note saying “Shoot. Me. Now.” Obama is said to have picked Biden as his running mate to add “gravitas.” I rest my case.
John Kerry saw right through John Edwards (no difficult task, that). Kerry described him to campaign manager, Robert Shrum, as a phony. But he seemed like an effective phony, so Kerry put him on the ticket.
Joe Lieberman is neither a fool nor a phony. In my view, he is the best the Democrats have offered in a long time on a presidential ticket, in either slot. But by 2000, how much affinity existed between the views of Lieberman and Gore? Not much, in my view. I submit that Gore looked past the growing ideological gap between the two and selected Lieberman in order to balance the ticket and maximize his chances in Florida. That’s cynical.
What about the three most recent Republican VP selections? Having gleefully greeted the selection of Paul Ryan as a break for Obama, on the theory that Ryan adds ideological clarity to the race, the Democrats can hardly argue that Ryan represents a cynical pick. He is an anti-cynical selection, perhaps to a fault.
Nor can the Democrats argue that Dick Cheney, as much as they hate him, amounted to a cynical pick. Cheney was a former Secretary of Defense, congressional leader, and White House chief of staff. Unlike Biden, Cheney did add gravitas, as opposed to its possible appearance, to the ticket.
This leaves us with Sarah Palin. I still don’t fully understand that pick. Did McCain regard her as a diamond in the rough? Possibly. However, considering the ideological gap between the two and Palin’s lack of traditional qualifications for high office, I consider this a cynical pick.
The final score, then, is 3 of 3 cynical selections by the Democrats and 1 of 3 by the Republicans.