To many pundits, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland looked like a prime Democratic vice presidential prospect. He has a high job rating in what was the most fiercely contested state in 2004, a state whose 20 electoral votes would have made John Kerry president if he had gotten 119,000 votes. But Strickland has taken himself out of the running. "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; and, if elected, I will not serve."
Some find that astonishing. A look at Strickland's curriculum vitae tells why he bowed out. He served as an associate minister in a Methodist church a year or so in the late 1960s. He worked two years as director of social services in a Methodist home. After getting a master's in divinity in 1967, he went back to school and got a Ph.D. in psychology. Then he worked for seven years as a prison psychologist and six years as a professor at Shawnee State University. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1992, defeated for re-election in 1994, then elected again in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004. In 2006, he was elected governor of Ohio.
From what I can tell, Strickland was not an imposing figure in the House. One reason may be that he was in the minority party in five of his six terms. He ended his House career as a midranking member of the Energy and Commerce and Veterans' Affairs committees. He cast roll-call votes on foreign and defense issues--more votes than Barack Obama has cast in the Senate, I assume, and more than Geraldine Ferraro did in her three years in the House. He's got a positive job rating in Ohio, and my Ohio sources tell me that he has worked constructively and noncontroversially with the Republican-majority legislature.
But what leaps out to me from this account is that this man has simply not had the experience needed to be president or to be one heartbeat away from being president. Strickland himself seems to agree. He presumably believes that he's up to the job of being governor of Ohio but not up to the job of being president. Many politicians seem to think their lives will be failures if they don't become president. Strickland, I am guessing, believes that he has achieved considerable success in life and that he has no business seeking a job for which he's not qualified. No Peter Principle for him.
By Michael Barone