Sunday, July 20, 2008

Democratic Veep stakes

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on June 19th in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

As I promised you last week, this column will be my first attempt to handicap the thoroughbreds who are running in the Democratic Vice Presidential Stakes race. The winner of this race has historically run the gamut from heavy favourites to “dark horses” and often ends with a surprise long shot that no knowledgeable bettor would ever pick
But as most handicappers do, I will begin by discussing the media “odds makers’” favourites and work my way down the tote board to the long shots that I am placing my own personal bets on. Needless to say, no one will be more interested than I am in seeing how well I have called this particular race come July or August when the winner is announced. So without further adieu, let’s discuss the favourites in this stakes race.
At 3:2 odds we have the heavy betting favourite thus far, which is the distaff that finished second in the Donkey-Ass Stakes known as Billary. I have already discussed this hard running mare at length but I don’t think she can win this race so I will avoid dwelling on her and or her chances of winning and focus on the rest of the field instead. As for Billary’s future career in this sport, while Billary is too junior a Senator to acquire a leadership role or Committee Chairmanship when she returns to the Senate, if she works hard for Obama’s election this autumn she could be appointed to succeed fellow New York Senator Chuck Schumer in a high profile position chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It’s probably the best consolation job available for her.
The second choice is a strong running steed bred in Virginia named Senator Jim Webb and the odds of him winning are around 2:1. Webb is both a military (Navy) veteran and a former Republican who served as President Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy so he would bolster Obama’s credentials in the ready to be a Commander in Chief area since Obama has no such military related experience. But neither Abraham Lincoln nor Franklin Roosevelt had such experience when they were elected President and they both proved to be very able Commander in Chiefs. While Webb has been a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, he is also an advocate of economic protectionism which Obama is not and he has a reputation for being volatile and difficult to control. I just don’t think his temperament would be a good fit in terms of serving as Obama’s Vice President.
Another heavy betting favourite at 3:1 odds is a Spanish gelding bred in New Mexico named Governor Bill Richardson that finished fourth in the Donkey-Ass Stakes. Richardson would help Obama attract more Hispanic voters and would also bolster Obama’s perceived lack of foreign policy experience given his previous service in this area for former President Bill Clinton. New Mexico is also a crucial swing state in Presidential elections that was also the most closely contested state contest in the last two presidential elections. But I believe Richardson would be a much better fit in a cabinet position such as Secretary of State in Obama’s presidential administration so I am not going to bet on him in the Vice Presidential Stakes.
The other heavy favourite at 3:1 odds is the popular pony from North Carolina called John Edwards. Edwards is an experienced contender who finished a distant third in the 2008 Presidential Stakes race and also won this race the last time it was run in 2004. He is also very popular with the type of working class white voters that bet heavily on Billary in a string of races from coast to coast throughout this spring’s presidential campaign. But much like Richardson I see Edwards as a much better fit as the US Attorney General in Obama’s cabinet and it appears that Edwards himself views that position more favourably than running in the Vice Presidential Stakes again.
Among the nine middle odds thoroughbreds, at 10:1 there is another former Vice Presidential Stakes winner from the 1992 and 1996 races that was bred in Tennessee named Al Gore. His experience in the 2000 Presidential Stakes race, which he actually won before being disqualified by the Florida stewards, would no doubt help Obama immensely, but this pony seems to be quite content continuing to graze in Green pastures around the world and is unlikely to ever race again. A better place for him might be as an Obama administration Cabinet officer in charge of US Environmental policy.
At 9:1 there is another Virginia thoroughbred named Mark Warner but he is planning to run in the Virginia Senatorial race which he is also likely to win. It’s doubtful this horse will forgo this winning opportunity in order to run in the Vice presidential race.
Among the other hopefuls at 15:1 odds are the fifth and sixth place finishers in the Donkey-Ass Stakes, Senator’s Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden from Delaware. While either would help Obama burnish his foreign policy credentials I think it is much more likely they would be offered a foreign policy job in Obama’s Cabinet.
At 17:1 odds there is an older Georgia bred horse with lots of military and foreign policy experience named Sam Nunn along with Obama’s South Dakota stable mate Tom Daschle, but I don’t see them running any better than the trio of Clinton supporters, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Governor Ted Strickland from Ohio or former General Wesley Clark from Arkansas, which the odds makers have put in a group at 13:1 odds.
Next week I will discuss the three long-shots in the field from which I believe the winner of the Vice Presidential Stakes race will emerge and why I like their chances even though most of the political odds makers don’t. Of course those same odds makers didn’t think much of Obama’s chances either until he broke out of the gate quickly at the start of the race in Iowa.

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