In these dog days before the conventions, as political reporters and columnists struggle to find something new to say, there are signs of hysteria on the nation's Op-Ed pages. The latest victim of this protracted political fever is Thomas Friedman, whose Friday column in the New York Times urged Al Gore to tap the only natural choice for vice president -- President Clinton.
"While many voters won't admit it, they would love to vote for Mr. Clinton again," Friedman says. "He has kept us entertained ... and there is no Democrat who drives Republicans more crazy ... And, be honest, who does a funeral better than Bill Clinton?"
It was a fitting climax to a week that began when George W. Bush mugged for the cameras with the man in charge of his veep search, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. The Times also reported Friday that Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who topped the list in last week's GOP veep speculation, offered to cancel a scheduled fishing trip with Cheney in Alaska next week, "lest their trip set too many tongues to wagging." Meanwhile, the Hotline opined that Bush could not choose California Rep. Chris Cox "because of the obvious jokes the ticket would elicit."
But while most media speculation centers on a slew of unknown senators and governors on both sides, a new poll by Intersurvey released this week reveals that voters on the GOP side at least don't want governors from second- (or third-) rate states -- they want stars. And many still want a woman. Last winter, Elizabeth Dole and New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman were the darlings of the press -- the first much-speculated-about vice presidential candidates. But as spring has turned into summer, the two women have been as ignored by the media as last Christmas' Furby.
Leading Intersurvey's list of most popular running mates among Republican Party voters are Colin Powell and John McCain. If they won't join the ticket, the poll found, Dole and Whitman would be the next most popular choices. The Democrats' top woman candidate, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, placed a distant fourth behind Bill Bradley, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh.