Who Should Be Romney’s Running Mate? Who Cares?

There’s a lot of chatter about who Mitt Romney might pick as his running mate.  Why not?  It’s a boring time in the political cycle, the economic data and the news from Europe are relentlessly, soul-crushingly bad, and today the President laid an egg with a turgid speech about the economy that offered no new ideas or magic bullets.  So why not spend a lot of time yakking about who might be Romney’s veep, rather than facing the painful truth about our current predicament?

It’s fun to speculate about such things.  Wouldn’t blunt, plain-spoken New Jersey Governor Chris Christie be a riot to watch in a vice presidential debate with Joe Biden?  And speaking of governors, how about Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal or South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, just to show that the GOP isn’t just a bunch of white guys with ’50s haircuts?  Or Senator Marco Rubio, who brings some dash and flash and can deliver a killer speech?  And for every interesting candidate, of course, there’s a dull, safe choice, like Ohio’s junior Senator, Rob Portman, who has lots of experience with budgets but not much pizzazz.

Only Romney and his advisors know for sure who they are considering, and what kinds of factors will enter into the mix.  For now, it’s worth mentioning that the selection of the vice president really doesn’t make much difference.  Consider Joe Biden.  He was a windbag and a gaffe-making machine as a long-serving Senator from Delaware, and he hasn’t changed as vice president.  Does it make any difference?  Does anybody really believe that Joe Biden has much influence on policy, or is entrusted with anything significant?  I sure hope he isn’t; I’m quite comfortable with his role as U.S. representative at high-level foreign funerals and inaugurations and one of the President’s chief errand boys and message-deliverers.

In my lifetime, most of the vice presidents have been either non-entities (Humphrey, Mondale, Ford) or embarrassments (Rockefeller, Biden), and sometimes both (Agnew, Quayle).  The country has somehow survived them all.  Even when the vice presidents seemed to be something more than the standard officeholder (George H.W. Bush, Gore) it’s not entirely clear whether they did much of substance in developing policy or advising the President.  The only veep who really seemed to have a significant role, at least for a time, was Dick Cheney — and I think his prominence made some people uncomfortable.

So let the speculation continue.  It can’t hurt, and it might distract us from the drumbeat of bad news.  Just don’t expect me to care much about who Romney picks, because it doesn’t really matter — even if Romney ends up winning.

Cheney’s Law

I read Bob’s blog “A Fine Line and a Delicate Balance” and was reminded of a show I saw a few months ago on PBS Frontline called Cheney’s Law.

The show talked about Vice President Dick Cheney’s secretive behind closed doors campaign to give George Bush virtually unlimited wartime power and how the Justice Department and White House made a number of controvesial legal decisions in order to do so.

While viewing the show one is confronted with the question, should the president have the power to do everything and anything including torture, wiretapping and spying without congressional approval or judical review to protect the country ? I’m not smart enough to know the answer, but I have to wonder what the framers of the Constitution would thought ?

This show is definitely worth viewing.

Expressions And Emoticons

Here’s an interesting story on a study that suggests that different cultures may read facial expressions differently, in a way that could lead to misunderstandings.

The study indicates that facial expressions indicating fear and surprise are among those most likely to be misunderstood. East Asian participants were much more likely to focus on the eyes, which are much more likely to be ambiguous, whereas Western participants looked at the entire face.

The study made me wonder how the participants would match the politicans pictured with this post with the following mental or emotional states:

*Disgruntled

* Uncomfortable

*Bewildered

* Slap happy

The eyes have it!

Another interesting aspect of the article is the difference in “emoticons” between those used in the U.S. and those used in Asia, with those used in Asia right-side up rather than on their side and with much more attention given to the eyes. I’ve never used an emoticon, but if I did I think I would use the Asian versions.