Democracy Soup

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George Clooney running with Barack Obama: A different vice president for a different time

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Originally published on on Fri, 04/04/2008 – 9:47am


For political geeks such as me, making out a speculative vice presidential list is one of the most exciting things about the presidential campaigns.

Now Democrats have had a harder time dealing with this topic. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton can’t think about a VP list until they get the nomination. But that won’t stop their supporters from their own speculation.

No disrespect to Hillary Clinton, but people ask me who Obama will pick. They figure Clinton and McCain will pick a standard politician to balance what they need from a political standpoint. When they ask about Obama, I tell them that Obama will try to find his own “Al Gore.” When Bill Clinton selected Al Gore, it was a controversial pick. How could he select a Senator from a neighboring state? How could he pick someone also so young? But Gore turned out to be a great pick and a great vice president.

If Obama is running a truly different kind of campaign, looking for a truly different kind of leadership, he needs to pick a vice president that sets that tone.

George Clooney

I’ll give you time for the laughter to set in.

There are a few practical reasons why not. He’s an actor, has never run for political office, and is a bachelor.

There was a movement to convince Clooney to run against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Clooney’s response: “Run for office? No. I’ve slept with too many women, I’ve done too many drugs, and I’ve been to too many parties.”

Women? Not while he was married. Drugs? Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Parties? Not a disqualifier?

Clooney is politically savvy. He helped to create Not on Our Watch, a group trying to focus attention and resources for Darfur. “Three Kings,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and “Syriana” are all politically knowledgable films. And they are certainly more relevant than “Bedtime for Bonzo.” And he’s already a Obama supporter.

Clooney has a little bit of name recognition: star actor, Oscar winner, a few magazine covers. Clooney is 46 years old, an age where actors make transitions. He won’t be the glamour boy he once was. And yes, Clooney would have to make adjustments. But if he wants to help his country, and he truly sounds like a man who would think that, then he could make a difference.

If Republicans come back with “well, he’s just an actor,” all Democrats have to say is Ronald Reagan. Clooney is smarter, more politically knowledgeable, more talented as an actor, and according to a few women, better looking than Reagan.

And while running for office is a difficult task, especially these days, running for vice president is probably the easiest office to run for. Then when he gets into office, he will then have the experience necessary in 2016.

Obama/Clooney: both 46 years old. Clinton/Gore (in 1992): 46 and 44 years old.

Clooney was on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last night. He had the Obama non-tie look. He looked comfortable talking with Stewart about politics. Clooney was talking about his work as a producer on “K Street” with James Carville. Can Clooney handle the right-wing attacks? As you can see in the clip from his new movie, “Leatherheads,” Clooney can take a punch, literally.

There are a lot of voters who see the 2008 race, regardless of whether they support Obama or Clinton, as being a country-changing race. George Clooney would be a new pick in a new direction.

Yes, there are more conventional picks. Chris Cilizza of The Washington Post, who speculates on such matters, last week ranked the top 5 possibilities for each candidate. For Obama, he rattled off Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, presidential candidate and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and Virginia U.S. Senator Jim Webb. Clinton’s “list” from Cilizza was Indiana U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, John Edwards, Obama, Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.

John McCain is making out his vice presidential list. He has the pressure of finding someone who is, let’s say, younger than McCain, and more ready to take over in case something happens.

Cilizza’s five for McCain are Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune. Not a single exciting candidate in the bunch, but you expect that from Republicans.

McCain really needs to pick someone that is almost clone-like, not so much a “Mini-Me” but a “younger-me.” And Clinton isn’t likely to think of someone unconventional: Wesley Clark is the most “radical” person she would pick.

Yes, politics shouldn’t be about style and “looks.” But if Obama picks a wise, old person, it will have shades of Dukakis/Bentsen. Clooney isn’t just a pretty face, but that doesn’t hurt him. If we really think we need to shake up how things are done in the United States, George Clooney is a great way to start.


Written by democracysoup

April 4, 2008 at 9:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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