Everyone Into the Veep Pool!

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 30, 2008; 10:40 AM

The floodgates are now officially open.

The low rumble of veepstakes chatter is now a deafening roar, and no self-respecting, self-appointed or self-important pundit dares stay on the sidelines.

Yesterday's Politico and Washington Post reports that Obama is getting serious about Tim Kaine, along with Evan Bayh and Joe Biden, has kicked the quadrennial ritual into high gear. Never mind that journalists have an abysmal track record of handicapping these things and missing the person who winds up getting picked. (Two words: Dick Cheney.)

What, you think we'd rather write about George Bush leaving his successor a record $482-billion deficit? That, of course, is far more important to whatever the next president can accomplish. But a heckuva lot less fun.

What I love about this orgy of pontification is how everyone becomes an instant expert. People whose only experience in Virginia is flying into Reagan National Airport suddenly are holding forth on the intricacies of the governor's record.

If someone like Kaine does get picked, he will of course get picked over by hundreds of journalists and thousands of bloggers. But since most of these wannabes are passed over, the frisking amounts to just a passing thunderstorm that can nonetheless leave them pretty soggy.

This is the season for the pundits to pose as campaign managers, decreeing who will help or hurt the ticket, when that is a crapshoot at best. And when the hoopla dies down, the No. 2 doesn't usually have much impact on the race.

But the importance--aside from the fact that a vice president might well inherit the top job--is in showing the country how a candidate makes his first presidential-level decision. And on that score, for the moment at least, we know very little.

Kaine remains in "it's flattering to be mentioned" mode. And, the Washington Times reports, "Mr. Kaine also said differences that he has with Mr. Obama, such as the politicians' respective stances on abortion, 'can be a strength.' Mr. Obama is pro-choice. And Mr. Kaine says that as a Catholic, he is 'personally pro-life' but does not think doctors or women who receive abortions should be criminalized."

The Boston Globe asks, what's the rush? "Some analysts now say McCain might gain more of an advantage by waiting until the last possible moment. Obama must announce his pick by the time of the Democratic convention during the last week of August. McCain can wait until the following week, when the Republican convention is held."

Townhall's Amanda Carpenter disses the leaked Democratic possibilities:

"Evan Bayh: Too young, too inexperienced to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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