When my girlfriend told me that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had suggested that Barack Obama choose Chet Edwards–my former (and George W. Bush’s current) congressman–as his running mate, I thought she was pulling my leg. But, she was serious, and–as usual–she was right.
Specifically, Pelosi says “I think anyone that Barack Obama wants is my choice for vice president. But, I do think in the list of considerations there should be somebody from the House of Representatives, and Chet Edwards is a person that many of us think would be a good person to have in the mix.”
And, why not? Despite my initial skepticism, and despite the fact that I still think Chet Edwards would be a long shot, I believe he would be an excellent choice. One thing he has going against him is that he’s not well-known. Although he is popular within his district–which stretches from just south of Fort Worth to north of Houston and includes Texas A&M University–Edwards certainly would not be a high-profile choice. However, considering just how much Obamania the campaign has hitherto generated, I’m not sure that profile is anything the Obama campaign is lacking right now. Instead, the main characteristic Obama needs in a running mate is experience.
Although I contend that it’s largely unjustified, the major criticism that Obama will face in the general election is that he lacks experience. Chet Edwards, who has served in the House of Representatives for 17 years, is certainly experienced, and he’s a major authority on military and veteran’s issues in particular.
Obama will also need to choose a running mate who doesn’t obviously contradict his “new kind of politics”. One of the major themes of the personal conversations I’ve had with Edwards has been his regret over the Republican-led trend over the last few years toward increasingly hyper-partisan and vicious politics. And, he puts his money where his mouth is. As a moderate Democrat representing a highly conservative district, Edwards is dedicatedly bipartisan, and he has focused on the type of bread-and-butter issues–supporting education, improving health care, building up the economy, supporting servicemen and -women and veterans–that Democrats should be focusing on nationally.
The fact is that by mentioning Chet Edwards and Nancy Pelosi in the same sentence, I’m certainly not doing any favors for Edwards, and any attention he receives as a possible running mate for Obama will probably do more harm than good for him in his current congressional race (which he is currently projected to win handedly). Despite that, he would definitely bring a lot to Obama’s presidential bid, so hopefully Obama pays attention to Pelosi’s advice here.
As an afterthought (and thanks go to Meredith once again for pointing this out to me), Chet Edwards has said that he would accept the offer (who wouldn’t?) if Obama asked him to join the ticket. Of course, if this did actually happen, it’s likely that Edwards’ current district would fall into Republican hands for the foreseeable future. But, what we as a nation would gain would be worth it.