First woman vice president?


The speculation about who Obama will choose as his running mate is hitting a fever pitch this week. The conventional political wisdom says there’s only one woman on Obama’s short list — Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
During the primary, we wrote a lot about how most of us at Feministing believe a candidate’s gender is an important factor, but far from the only factor. I think that logic holds true when we’re talking about VP candidates, too. The dudes reportedly on Obama’s short-list, Sen. Evan Bayh, Sen. Joe Biden, and especially Gov. Tim Kaine, just leave me kind of cold. And while we don’t make endorsements, I have to say that I really like Sebelius. She’s managed to pass a lot of progressive policies (and veto/contain a lot of really terrible conservative polities) in a Republican-dominated state. While I don’t agree with her on stances on gay rights or guns, she has an awesome record on choice and the environment.
Over at TAPPED, Dana writes:

Sebelius, of course, would be the bold, unconventional choice — very Obama. But by choosing a female running mate, Obama would, unfortunately, thrust the Hillary die-hards and their ever-more marginal discontentment back into the spotlight. That said, anyone who believes that only Hillary Clinton deserves to be the first female president or vice president doesn’t deserve the designation “feminist.” So I’d relish watching the reactions to a Sebelius nod, not only because such a choice would double down on Obama’s most effective message — “change” — but because it would reveal exactly which Clinton boosters are ready to widen the lens and enthusiastically support women’s leadership as such.

That’s harsher than I would have put it. But I think Dana is fundamentally right in that it would be fascinating to see the reaction to a Sebelius pick. I think most former Hillary backers would not disappoint. Maybe that’s because, in my personal experience, every woman I know who was a die-hard Hillary supporter would be really happy to see any liberal, pro-choice woman on the ticket with Obama. As Addie Stan wrote last month,

But the notion that voters mad at Obama because, being a young man, he swept past a 60-year-old woman who has paid some serious dues — that those voters then would be miffed by the nomination of a 50+-year-old-woman who has paid some serious dues simply makes no sense. It has no internal logic, which obviously would not disqualify it in the eyes of those who think that older women — and let’s face it, that’s what is meant by “disaffected Hillary voters” — lack the capacity for logical decision-making.

Amen. So… who do y’all want to see as Obama’s VP pick? And who do you think it will actually be?

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33 Comments

  1. JqlGirl
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    First off, I’m Canadian, so I don’t really have a say in this stuff, but I think Sebellius sounds like a wonderful choice. I’d rather see someone interesting and progressive than another old white man. Anyway, I just hope Obama wins in November.

  2. Lear
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    If we don’t know otherwise before the convention, it’s Hillary.

  3. opheliasawake
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I love the idea of Obama choosing Sibelius but I think that decision might cost him the election since he’s already been losing ground.
    Let’s face it, the VP is not a power position and is really about balancing the ticket, so this is maybe the only place I would like a purely political decision. Though Jim Webb is a former Republican (or maybe because he is) he provides the perfect balance for Obama. He’s a former Secretary of the Navy and has a child in Iraq. Southern democrats really like him because of his military experience and pro-gun stance and the state of Virginia (an important battleground in November) loves him right now. He does extraordinarily well with white blue collar voters, the same demographic that is sliding toward McCain in the polls.
    I’d much rather Sibelius be in an actual power position (like Governor or in the national legislature) than possibly weighing down a ticket and then being forced into Al Gore’s role for (hopefully) eight years. VPs tend not to actually shape policy (unless they actually control the presidency, DICK.)

  4. opheliasawake
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Sorry for misspelling your name Kathleen (stupid auto correct!). I love you!

  5. Miriam
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I have to say I was pretty peeved when I heard the pundits talking about Obama’s top three and they were all white men. I hear what you are saying opheliasawake about balancing the ticket, but after all the support Hillary received it seemed like a slap in the face not to at least consider a woman VP candidate. Or maybe another person of color? It’s also possible that the pundits have more sway in deciding who the “top three” really are than Obama’s campaign.

  6. Logrus
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The only think I really have a problem with about Sebelius is her support of her state’s constitutional amendment making gay marriage illegal.
    She’s pro-choice, good.
    She’s pro 2nd amendment but not in favor of unreasonable concealed carry permits.
    Her energy policy seems solid.
    I think she is a little stereotypically liberal on education funding but nobody viable seems to have the higher ground on education.
    Biden has supported the Patriot Act, bad.
    Big on gun control, bad.
    Tax cuts for the wealthy repeal, good.
    He’s also got a real head in the sand approach to Cuba.
    Bayh seems like a person willing to compromise on things to get something he wants. This might make him a good politician but it’s difficult to respect. He’s got very few political moments that set him apart from the pack, IMHO.
    Kaine, who is this guy? He’s voted for requiring parental consent? He supported amending his constitution to ban gay marriage? bzzzt! Where is the big lever that opens a hole in the floor under this guy? Also he has a Mike Ditka haircut.

  7. Ann
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Kaine, who is this guy? He’s voted for requiring parental consent? He supported amending his constitution to ban gay marriage? bzzzt! Where is the big lever that opens a hole in the floor under this guy? Also he has a Mike Ditka haircut.

    Agreed, Logrus. It’s all very damning. I’m disappointed that Obama would even consider him.

  8. rileystclair
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    “The only think I really have a problem with about Sebelius is her support of her state’s constitutional amendment making gay marriage illegal.”
    agreed.
    i would be happy with sebelius and think she is mostly awesome, but i think with the whole russia/georgia stuff going on, that obama will ultimately choose someone with more foreign policy experience than he or sebelius does and that biden will probably get the job.
    ugh@tim kaine. no one knows who he is and his anti-choice crap wins no points for democrats.
    my first choice was bill richardson actually, but i guess he’s not even on the list. maybe he’ll get a cabinet post.

  9. kt
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I would like to see someone a lot more pro-gay, personally, in addition to being solidly pro-choice. But seeing Sebelius get the nod would be a really interesting development. However, it’s totally going to be older white guy. I’d put money on it.

  10. The Law Fairy
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I really like the idea of Sebelius next to him on the ballot. I’m one of those die-hard Hillary fans who would be excited to see pretty much ANY progressive, pro-choice woman up there. To be perfectly frank, for reasons having NOTHING to do with Hillary, I go back on forth about whether to vote for Obama. Sebelius as a VP would go a long way toward solidly landing me in his camp, whereas with a choice of someone like Biden, I would be less than impressed. Obviously I’m just one voter, but, you know, FWIW.

  11. Caitlyn
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    My key criteria would be:

    executive experience
    supportive of women’s issues
    foreign affairs experience
    good campaigner
    doesn’t put foot in mouth

    I’d give Sebelius four of five (unless she has more foreign affairs experience than I have heard about).
    I added the final criteria expressly for Richardson because in spite of executive and foreign affairs experience and his repeated electoral success, I think he could sink a campaign with a few poorly chosen words. Biden I would give a 3, for foreign affairs and women’s issues and keeping his feet on the ground. Kaine a 3 for winning in a generally red state and being a governor instead of a senator (likewise on the foot out of the mouth criteria). Bayh, also a three, though I think he draws different lessons from his foreign affairs experience than I would.
    I’d have to hear Sebelius give a stump speech on foreign affairs and national security to be sure she adds to Obama’s message in that area, but right now she sounds better than the all boy band of alternatives.

  12. FashionablyEvil
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I think Richardson’s on the Secretary of State list. At least that’s how it got played when he endorsed Obama over Hillary.

  13. LlesbianLlama
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    No matter who is chosen I won’t like them, so I’ve almost given up caring about it. Sebelius is alright, I guess. Too bad she’s yet ANOTHER anti gay-rights politician. Then again, that attitude puts her nearly on par with Obama, whose latest statements about same sex marriage have left me more disappointed with him than I ever have been.
    They say you win some you lose some in politics, and have to concede some issues in the end, but it smacks of privilege that I hear so many feminists [more-so in real life, not specifically on Feministing] lauding Obama and Sebelius and others for their records in abortion rights, while telling the LGBTQ community that we “just have to be patient.” I’m glad that abortion is an issue high on the radar, but to be perfectly frank it affects me only *very* marginally, while the issues that affect me personally and deeply are ignored because I’m considered a political liability.
    I’ll vote for them, but I don’t like them. Not even a little bit. The VP candidate isn’t likely to help the problem… only make it worse.

  14. Mike B.
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Sebelius’s wikipedia entry at one point mentioned that one of her sons is openly gay. Not sure if that was edited out because it wasn’t true or because it wasn’t convenient.
    Anyway, as far as I can tell, she’s been about as gay-positive as possible in her state (and to become a veep contender). Yeah, I’d like an outright marriage equality supporter too, but this is not quite the cycle for that to happen. The upshot is that she is the closest thing to a progressive on the short list.

  15. The Law Fairy
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    while telling the LGBTQ community that we “just have to be patient.”
    OMG, people actually SAY that to you???
    How gross. To me, gay rights are just as important as women’s rights because they’re two sides of the same freakin’ coin. Unfortunately, there are about zero viable politicians who have the right stance on gay rights :-P
    But I have no patience. Which is why talking about politics generally puts me in a dour mood and bring everyone around me down with me, lol.

  16. Posted August 20, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Sebilius has long been my favorite option for VP as she meets two of my main criteria…fitting into Obama’s frame of post-partisan change and being a good option for President post-Obama (women should be considered for President at older ages than men because on average they age better).
    That said, I do also like Biden (or Carl Levin of MI) because another primary concern for VP in my mind would be the ability to work the Senate which will be the place where the quality of policies will be determined. Both these guys have the Senate experience to do this (and foreign policy credentials that don’t hurt).

  17. LlesbianLlama
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    TLF: Yupp. Sometimes in those EXACT words, and sometimes in not in so many words.
    Ironically enough, Mike B. actually did it in the post directly above yours.
    The huge problem with the reasoning he gives is that it’s NEVER “quite the cycle for that to happen.” Democrats and all politicians really ALWAYS need to be elected, always want to say the “right” thing to get elected; so, praytell, when IS it going to the the “cycle for that to happen”? It’s not exactly on the fucking horizon, and meanwhile I am living as a 2nd class citizen with only marginal rights.
    I don’t buy the idea that same sex marriage would make an otherwise viable candidate less viable. Almost every person voting for a candidate has some problem with that candidate’s stance on one or two issues. Let this be one of them. And you know what? Sometimes I wonder if I’d rather have a McCain presidency than have the party I’m cornered and guilted into voting for make it clear that they have no intention of standing by me in the most fundamental of ways.

  18. RMJ
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    As a feminist Hillary supporter and Kansan expat, I would be beyond thrilled if Obama picked Sebelius. She’s been amazing for Kansas, a real bridge-builder with a great focus on education, and she’d be even more amazing as VP.
    I really don’t think it’s going to happen – of the more likely candidates, I’m rooting for the gov of my adopted state (Virginia) because Bayh smacks of pandering and Biden has always struck me as smarmy.

  19. everybodyever
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I think Obama could benefit from some tried-and-true liberal with blue collar credibility, labor backing, business acumen—the better to counter somebody like Romney on the right—AND solid and outspoken abortion rights support. That means, for God’s sake, not Kaine, Bayh or Webb, who present as little personality as they do risk.
    Also, if he doesn’t go for Clinton, I think Obama needs somebody else from the east coast: Especially if it’s states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, with all its New York émigrés, that Obama’s worried about, I think some east coast or rust belt cred is really necessary.
    I second the mentions of Biden and Levin, although I have serious concerns about Biden for his atrociously racist compliments of Obama last year. (I guess Obama figures his black supporters aren’t exactly going to defect to McCain, however.)
    Also, Ed Rendell could be a great choice for the reasons I’ve mentioned. However, he’s pro-death penalty and, as a governor, probably kind of thin on foreign policy, too.
    And as much as I like Chris Dodd and his unflagging reproductive rights record, he’s got those shady Arthur Andersen ties. And he’s kind of boring.
    Alternately, how about Mike Bloomberg? Or is this just a New Yorker’s pipe dream? It would be a trip if McCain picked ex-Dem Lieberman and Obama ex-Dem, ex-Repub Bloomberg. At least with Bloomberg, the Miami-area counties might more reliably vote Democratic.
    As great a governor as she may be, I don’t think Sebelius is a terribly interesting or useful VP pick.
    She’s got the same Midwest background as Obama, her unlikely Kansas popularity as a progressive might not translate to the federal stage, she has no foreign policy credentials I’m aware of, and as a governor, she may not bring the diplomatic capabilities a Senator like Biden could. (That said, having an executive on the Democratic ticket might be useful—hence Bloomberg.) Also, I would prefer she keep progressivizing Kansas instead of flesh out a presidential ticket.
    Richardson is, I think, a decent VP pick in that he’s experienced as hell and I like him, but he’s not terribly exciting, and choosing him could alienate Clintonites. That is, I don’t think Clinton supporters would immediately chafe at the pick itself (I think they’re more invested in Hillary Clinton than in Bill’s pride at having christened Richardson energy secretary), but the media would beat that horse to death in attempts to rile them.

  20. Morgan La Fey
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    As a liberal Virginian, I gotta say I’m a big Tim Kaine fan. He’s not perfect, but compared to the other elected officials we’ve had he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s voted against government-funded abstinence only education, is opposed to capital punishment and overturning Roe v. Wade, and opposed the anti-gay marriage amendment.
    I’d love to see Sebelius as the VP, but I just don’t think Obama would risk looking more “liberal”.

  21. allegra
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I would love if he chose Sebelius. Don’t you think that would be a good move for him, even? I’d almost partially forgive him for beating Hillary.

  22. Logrus
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Morgan La Fey:
    Tim Kaine quotes on gay marriage:
    I think the institution of marriage is fine. I don’t believe we need to create an alternative
    I have never said I supported gay civil unions, gay marriages
    Marriage between a man and a woman is the building block of the family and a keystone of our civil society. It has been so for centuries in societies around the world. I cannot agree with a court decision suddenly declaring that marriage must now be redefined to include unions between people of the same gender.
    Virginia defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and I strongly support that law. Regardless of the court ruling today in another state, I am confident that there is nothing in the Virginia or federal constitutions that would require Virginia to alter its longstanding policy about marriage.
    When appearing in front of the Virginia Family Foundation Kaine stated he supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage as well as gay adoption.
    Despite his personal opposition of the death penalty he has done next to nothing to support that stance, but he has presided over 8 executions which, as governor, he could have had commuted to live w/o parole.
    He might be great compared to what VA has had lately, but he isn’t jack shit IMHO.

  23. MM
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    As much as I want to like Sebilus, as a prisoner’s rights advocate, the fact that she allows her son to pedal a game he created called “Don’t Drop the Soap”, wherein prisoners try to get our of prison without being killed, “shanked”, becoming someone’s bitch, etc., makes it much harder for me to like her. She not only has expressed her approval of this game repeatedly, but the distribution address for game sales is the Kansas governor’s mansion. I get that you want to support your kids, but I think there should be reasonable limits on what kind of activities you support, and that should exclude the mockery of rape.
    Also, before people get mad at me for inclduing her kids in my analysis of her, my complaint in this instance would be just as big if it were a male candidate.
    Back to the VP note, I don’t think there is any chance she will be named, it will be someone with ample foreign policy experience, that is the only way Obama has a chance.

  24. era4allNOW
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I think we definitely need Sebelius. I actually would have been delighted to see Dennis Kucinich as an option. I didn’t get to vote for him in IL and then Clinton didn’t make it…so I’m SOL on this election.
    On the Kaine anti-gay marriage thing…it’s not as if Obama has done any better lately. Boo on him on many accounts. I hope it is only pandering and will be different once *hopefully* he is in office…but it also seems to me that one of the first issues he will compromise on to get something on his agenda accomplished will be women’s issues. So I second LesbianLlama – I’ll be voting for him, but I don’t like him. Not one bit.

  25. msmam
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    The veep speculation to me always seems a little weird, because the role of the vice president is usually to be a campaign attack dog and, when elected, to do what the president says. So while I have my opinions on the policy stances of the 4 presumed finalists, they’re really not going to do anything to sway my vote.
    Having said that, I personally think Sebelius is awesome. She’s successfully taken some very bold stances considering she’s the governor of Kansas (the same state that elected Sam Brownback), particularly on abortion. I think she’d be a great vice president. Also, could somebody fill me in on her gay rights stance? (My Googling has told me that she opposed Kansas’ constitutional ban and she’s headlining the Stonewall Democrats conference, but little else.)
    As for the other contenders, I’m not wild about them but they’re not setting off huge alarm bells considering the position they’d actually have. I wish Bayh and Kaine were better on abortion, but they’re not adament pro-lifers – I know Virginia stopped receiving federal funding for ab-only sex ed under Kaine, and the only real anti-choice votes from Bayh were on partial-birth abortion. (However, if I’m missing anything, please inform!) I just think they’re both boring and centrist, which is not what Obama needs right now. I love Biden and think he’d do a great job campaigning for Obama, but his talents would be much better utilized as Secretary of State.

  26. Logrus
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    era4allNOW: I’m not saying that they all haven’t dicked queerfolk over to get votes. But I was responding to the false statements made that he has supported GLBT rights, he hasn’t. The final quote in there was part of a speech he gave responding to another state’s supreme court ruling that domestic partnerships had to be recognized. He came right out and said he didn’t even support that.
    He’s a do-nothing panderer at best, and while all of them pander at least some of them have used that pandering to get some things done.

  27. Posted August 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    I take some serious issue with this:
    That said, anyone who believes that only Hillary Clinton deserves to be the first female president or vice president doesn’t deserve the designation “feminist.”
    She’s the only female politician I’ve seen lately that deserves to be president. Why? Because she’s the one who has the savvy and experience, and I agree with pretty much her entire platform.
    I’m not familiar with Sebelius, so I don’t have an opinion on her. If I look at her stances and agree with them, Clinton would no longer be the only female politician I’d seen, therefore my opinion could be revised.
    I guess I’m not a feminist though, you know, for having an opinion and thinking for myself and all that.

  28. Silica
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Even though I don’t agree with all of Sebelius’s positions, I have profound admiration for her willingness to push progressive policies in a state that has many vocal conservatives, and her willingness to be openly pro-choice and Catholic at the same time. I am a devout Catholic and feminist, which seems to confuse a lot of people, so I admire that she is willing to show herself as she is, as well as stand up on occasion to an organization of bishops that can be none too friendly, especially on women’s issues.
    One of the reasons I really like her stems from an e-mail I sent her in support of her pro-choice policies. I let her know that I, too, was a pro-choice Catholic and that we needed more acknowledgement of our existence both in our churches and political institutions (for instance, coverage of the “Catholic vote” is almost always about abortion, and almost never includes ideas like ending the death penalty, expanding health care, or ending hunger and poverty). Instead of getting a little automated reply, she actually responded to me personally, thanking me for my support as a citizen of the US (I’m from PA) as well as another pro-choice Catholic woman, and that it was nice to receive something other than a “You’re going to hell!” type message over these issues. The woman’s a governor. I don’t even get personalized correspondence from my state senator, and I’ve sent him loads more e-mails and letters.
    A personal touch like that matters a lot, and I think being able to do that would carry over well into a VP position where doing little things without much publicity is a lot of your job.
    I also like Bill Richardson, but I feel like he might be more Secretary of State material. He is wonderful and not full of himself.

  29. rosie_ict
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    As a Kansan, I love Kathleen. She’s been great for our state, which is why I selfishly don’t want her to be the VP. She is a class act, tough, saavy, about as pro-gay as you can be in Kansas. Love her, love her.
    Wes Clark?

  30. rosie_ict
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Kathleen has been a great thing for Kansas, which is why I selfishly don’t want to see her as VP. Sometimes I think she’s the only thing keeping the state from going over the edge. She’s as pro-choice and pro-gay rights as you can be in KS and still get elected.
    Wes Clark?

  31. Biff
    Posted August 21, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Governor Sebelius OPPOSED the state constitutional amendment that banned gay marriage, even though the Kansas electorate approved it by 25 points.
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2005/04/06/kansans_vote_to_ban_same_sex_marriage/
    she would be an AWESOME vp, and would place 45 states in play.
    That’s right, I said it!
    http://www.obamasebelius2008.blogspot.com

  32. SaraLaffs17
    Posted August 21, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    In all the Biden, Bayh, etc. speculation on the part of the media, I can’t believe that no one has brought up the risk in plucking a Democrat from a closely-divided Senate in which every Dem seat matters. Biden would definitely serve as a good “attack dog” for Obama in the campaign and in the administration, and of course he’s got the foreign policy cred – but is choosing him (or Bayh) worth possibly losing control of committee assignments, legislation and all the other perks that come with being the majority party?
    Personally, I like Bill Richardson, for his mix of state executive and foreign policy experience. But he does have the foot-in-mouth thing going on.

  33. Posted August 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    SaraLaffs17, the Democrats are expected to pick up several Senate seats this year. (Enough to be able to afford to kick Joe Lieberman to the curb would be nice.)

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