Oregon Gov. Kate Brown with President Barack Obama after the Roseburg school shooting in 2015.Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via ZUMA
For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones’ newsletters.Who should Joe Biden choose as his vice president? Jonah Goldberg—one of the few honest-to-God Never Trumpers out there—correctly points out that running mates are no longer needed to “round out” a presidential candidate. This means Biden doesn’t need to pick someone who can help with a particular state or a particular demographic. “The first thing to remember about vice presidential picks,” Goldberg says, “is that they are marketing decisions….In the modern era, veeps are picked to reinforce a message.”
So: what is Biden’s message? With apologies to both Michael Dukakis (who lost) and Warren G. Harding (who won), his basic message is competence and normalcy. No more feuds. No more 3 am tweets. No more revenge. No more lies. We need a steady hand at the tiller as we recover from the COVID-19 recession, and Biden is that hand.
Who are the obvious candidates to reinforce this message? Amy Klobuchar comes to mind immediately. I’d put in a good word for Elizabeth Warren, though it’s easy to see how she could muddle that message. Oregon’s Kate Brown could be a dark horse. Kamala Harris had a fairly dependable reputation in California, though she might have lost that during her losing presidential bid. Or how about Mazie Hirono, who was a steady Democrat for a long time but has recently become more radicalized—which perhaps truly captures the current zeitgeist? Maybe Katie Porter, who’s served only one year in Congress but has been very good and knows how to appeal to a purplish suburban audience.
Remembering that our goal in this exercise is cool and steady, who’s your pick?