Veepstakes Gone Wild

For our part, we’re happy to wait until John Kerry himself tells us just who it is that he plans to throw into the arena to take on the fearsome Dick Cheney, who dined with delight on his opponent during the 2000 vice presidential debate.

But that isn’t stopping idle reporters, relieved at last from primary duty, from stirring up waves of speculation.

Conventional wisdom, brought to you by the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney, has John Edwards as the momentary favorite for John Kerry’s running mate. But in the three days since Nagourney’s report, other reporters have been dragging in other assorted candidates for the post — if not from the Left, certainly from left field.

There was, of course, a Tom Brokaw moment earlier this week in the form of an article by John Fund in the Wall Street Journal’s online Opinion Journal titled “A JFK-NBC ticket?” “If [Kerry] wants to make a bold choice,” Fund wrote, “he will offer the job to retiring NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw” for whom “most Americans have respect, even affection,” who “could probably be persuaded to leave the anchor desk a few months early” and would “surely” be given “an ethics pass on such a departure” by “his many friends in the national news media.”

Today, the New York Observer’s Ben Smith writes excitedly about “the fledgling relationship” between John Kerry and John Weaver, “a close advisor to [Republican Sen.] John McCain” and confesses how very “tempting” it is to see it “as evidence that Mr. Kerry is considering Mr. McCain as his vice president.” (On “Good Morning America” today, McCain told Charles Gibson that while he would “obviously entertain” any such offer, he didn’t consider it likely given his policy differences with Kerry.)

Readers of this week’s New York Press find there an even more unlikely name: Howell Raines. What uniquely desirable qualifications might the former executive editor of the New York Times who resigned in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal offer John Kerry? An equally ardent love of poetry, for one. Raines, Russ Smith reminds readers, quoted Yeats in an all-newsroom email praising his staff for their work on 9/11. And Kerry, Smith opines, “regales gullible reporters by reciting lines from the most famous T.S. Eliot poems.”

Campaign Desk sees a Kerry-Raines ticket as a mixed bag. Raines, an Alabama native, might deliver some Southern states, but Kerry could kiss the West 43rd Street vote goodbye.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.