Henry Blodget’s widely-read Silicon Valley blog gives the idea of selecting eBay’s Meg Whitman as McCain’s Veep an enthusiastic assessment. Blodget has none of the usual gushing about a female business executive, but instead focuses on Whitman’s greatest asset: credibility. She was an above average CEO, widely respected even when she blundered, never a press hog, and apparently likeable.
I remain skeptical that someone from the business world can step onto the national stage of politics. Politics is a craft, not a second career. The potential for gaffes and displays of amateurism is tremendous. For all anyone knows, Whitman is probably a conventional California liberal who likes low taxes, but will have no idea how to relate to the Republican base.
Yet unlike Obama, McCain doesn’t need a hand-holder and advisor as a running mate. Nor is his Vice Presidential candidate going to change McCain’s positions on issues. He needs someone to help him with the fact that he seems old and out-of-date. A woman on the ticket, and someone who actually understands modern business and technology, would be a direct challenge the “John McCain doesn’t get it” message emerging from Denver. Whitman would add pizazz that could counter Obama’s glamour. In normal times, there would be a thousand arguments against putting a political novice on the ticket. But these are not normal times. McCain needs to excite undecided voters and peel off disaffected Hillary supporters in a small handful of states. Whitman is a high-risk strategy — but at least she’s a strategy.