Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Sunday, June 20, 2004
A Solid Number Two

Conventional wisdom on the veepstakes is that Kerry either should avoid, or is taking care to avoid, picking someone who'll "upstage" him. We hear this at least once every cycle, and I say it's hooey. It's one of those double-flip ideas whose cleverness exceeds its validity. On general principle, I find it hard to believe that a great politician, or a very popular one, would hurt any ticket. And although it's hard to find strong examples of upstaging -- after all, the guy at the top of the ticket just won a primary campaign, so he must have something going for him -- a lot of this talk is guaranteed to have come from the other side, which floats the idea as a way of insulting the guy at the top of the ticket.

In fact, the first time I can remember hearing this concept was in 1988, when Republicans kept tsk-tsking that Lloyd Bentsen was so much better a candidate than that Dukakis schmuck. Now, even stipulating to the truth of this, let's remember that, when Bentsen flattened Dan Quayle with "You're no Jack Kennedy", it was pretty much the only good thing that happened to the Democratic ticket after Labor Day.

(Incidentally, for those who don't know, Bentsen showed a better-than-average ability to quit when he was ahead: supposedly, the line -- scripted, of course -- was to continue "...and George Bush is no Ronald Reagan." Bentsen, however, knew not to try and top about 15 seconds of laughter, applause, and even a little "Got me there" look from Quayle.)

So go ahead, John: pick Edwards, if that's who you think is the strongest candidate. You're about 19 for 20 against him anyway, so what are you worried about?

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