This story was written by Scott Green, Daily Illini
Now that Barack Obama has secured the Democratic nomination for president, his focus can shift to the next major task: Petitioning Microsoft Word to include his name in spell check.
He can also choose a running mate. The Vice Presidency is a prestigious position held only by individuals who can "balance the ticket," which is a roundabout way of saying "be a different kind of white guy." For example, in 2000 Dick Cheney balanced George W. Bush's ticket by having male pattern baldness.
But Obama made the bold decision to not be a white guy, so nobody knows how he will balance his ticket. Should he pick a different kind of black guy? A woman? A sassy, back-talking 10-year-old played by Gary Coleman? Dick Cheney? Demographics are key. Someone like New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson would help appeal to Hispanic voters, while North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il would help appeal to evil voters.
The other thing Obama will want in a running mate is someone who is not a total boob. This should go without saying, but Vice Presidential candidates have a history of testing very high in the boobdom department. Who can forget when Dan Quayle, guest judging an elementary school's spelling bee in 1992, famously misspelled "Barack Obama"?
Of course, Obama has to be careful not to offer the position to anyone who wouldn't accept it. Former Vice President John Nance Garner reportedly said the office was "not worth a bucket of warm spit," though in 1941 this was actually a compliment, as World War II rationing left the nation with a shortage of warm spit and buckets.
Hillary Clinton is a person who would happily accept the position. She said she is "open to the possibility" of being Obama's Vice President, in the same sense that I would be open to the possibility of winning a $100 million Powerball jackpot. History may work against Clinton, though, because the only other major-party female running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, was part of Walter Mondale's losing ticket in 1984.
But so what? Ferraro and Clinton have almost nothing in common. Ferraro was a New York congressperson serving as running mate to a U.S. senator from a Midwestern state, whereas Clinton is a New York congressperson seeking to become the running mate to a U.S. senator from a completely different Midwestern state.
Still, the Vice President is said to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, so Obama might instead want someone with a heart. Fortunately he has appointed a committee to lead his search, a blue-ribbon panel that will no doubt come up with a recommendation just as soon as Obama cuts off its expense account.
Ultimately it will come down to targeting key voter blocs. If Obama wants to appeal to women, he'll pick Clinton. If he wants to appeal to Hispanics, he'll pick Bill Richardson. And if he wants to get into spell check, he'll pick Bill Gates.