Thursday, December 6, 2007

Common Ground - Raj Verma

The Race Behind the Race

There can only be one winner. Well, usually. On its face, the debates showcase competing egos and differing ideologies all with the aim of securing the most powerful position in American government. A subtle look at the presidential debates reveals a different race for other coveted posts, and is something to debate about. As you watch the Presidential debates and discuss the various differences on foreign policy, domestic issues, and character traits, be aware that some of those on stage are vying for desirable and high-impact positions in the winner’s administration. If the polls, at this point, suggest that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination and gain the Presidential nomination, does candidate Bill Richardson return as Secretary of Energy? Will Edwards be appointed to a post in the administration? Perhaps Clinton will nominate Obama for a position on the Supreme Court. Similarly, if Giuliani grabs the nomination on the Republican side, do we see Mike Huckabee appointed as Secretary of the Interior? Perhaps John McCain is interested in a post in the State Department. Is he preparing himself for such a position?

One has to remember that although the candidates present themselves in the most ‘presidential’ manner as possible, there can only be one president, and all the candidates bring various strengths to the table that better equips them for a position they currently hold (senator, governor) or a position they may seek (Secretary of State, Vice President). All the candidates brandish strong credentials. But take a closer look at the debates and identify who is vying for an alternative position. One clear example of this appears to be the well-orchestrated positioning of Joseph Biden and Bill Richardson, two darkhorse candidates who have virtually little to no shot at winning the presidency. In a recent debate, Biden and Richardson both admonished Obama and Edwards indirectly for attacking Clinton’s integrity and character. Was this a noble gesture? Or a subtle hint to Clinton—‘I’ll protect you now, you find a position for me later’? The next time you watch the Presidential candidates during the debate, be aware of the jockeying, the kind of positioning that will help each candidate win, in ways that you may not expect.

Raj Verma, JD/MPA
Blog Contributor

Raj Verma is the President of the Future Leaders Council for USINPAC. He currently resides in Washington DC.


Mr. Mehta said...

Good points Raj! I agree we need to take a step back and look at debates, policies and positions from the point of "whats in it for them?" I also think that Richardson more so than the rest has truly changed his daily verbatim and aggressiveness as some suggest he may even be a VP candidate for Hillary.

The thing is though I don't think the same model exists among the republicans, they don't seem to be as organized and much more cut throat. If you look at democratic attacks most are still subtle and don't address rivals against each other but Republicans seem to be throwing punches like drunken sailors. Also the truth is what do any one of these guys have to lose?

If Romney loses he is still a superstar in the business world and could jump aboard a new billion dollar venture overnight. Giuliani is making more money now than he ever has from his post 9/11 position with speeches and his private investment firm. John McCain is at his last bid for President and I don't see him taking any cabinet level position for any administration. Huckabee is quickly rising as a star but less on any of his firm beliefs for America but truly because he has opposed abortion longer than any of the front runners.

All in All I ask what do any of the republicans stand for and when they say these things what do they have to lose?

Payal said...

I like your perspective Raj, not only are the candidates fighting for a presidential position but are introspectively situating themselves for a position among cabinet.

It would be interesting to see how many times this has occurred in the past and how candidates successfully strategically aligned themselves for alternative roles. There can always be a Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh situation where the elected candidates choose a different role because it guarantees them the powerful invisible hand to guide the political and economic stamina of a country.

Jay Shah said...

Given the attacks from Edwards on Clinton, it is hard to imagine him having a position in a possible Clinton administration. Also, since Gov. Richardson has served as a Sec. of Energy what does it really get him. I can see Sen. Biden as Sec. of State in a future Democratic Administration and why would Sen. Obama who is so young with a tremendous future ahead of him in the Senate and beyond want to take a position in the Supreme Court? Mike Huckabee could be a potential VP candidate if Rudy Guliani or Mitt Romney were to get the Republican nomination since he would bring strong support from the conservative wing of the Republican party!

Raj said...

Jay--good comments. The latest news from the Hill is that, if Clinton prevails, who better to nominate to the Supreme Court then a young, intelligent, left-minded Obama. He is a constitutional scholar, taught at a world-renowned law school, and will could potentially serve on the Supreme Court for many years to come.