Finally putting an end to the mystery surrounding presidential hopeful John Kerry's vice-presidential indecision, it was revealed earlier this week that senator John Edwards would accompany Kerry on his trek toward the White House. The announcement follows weeks of speculation as to the identity of Kerry's running mate, a decision about which Kerry remained frustratingly tight-lipped, supposedly citing his duty, as a politician, to make everything as difficult and vague as is humanly possible.
That's not to say that Kerry's reluctance to announce his choice for bureaucratic best man isn't understandable. Considering the profound effect the selection can have on their campaign, presidential hopefuls typically spend a great deal of time weighing over who to choose as their running mate that is, excepting one former president who seemed less concerned with his running mate than he was his mating run.
Still, displaying the narrow-mindedness and deference to convention that plagues so many politicians, Kerry ultimately chose for the position a man who is not only a fellow Democrat, but a politician as well. This is not to knock Edwards who is a very capable man that we didn't want as actual president but once again the question must be raised: are the criteria for vice-presidential selection adequate? Or should the focus instead be, however abstractly, on the "'running' that a running mate does?
Interestingly, a completely unreliable and inflexibly anonymous source reports that before Kerry chose Edwards, he entertained the idea of broadening his sights and selecting a vice-candidate from outside the political ring, perhaps even calling upon one of the country's leading athletes. Some might say that such an idea is ridiculous, but those same people would get thrashed by Bill Bradley, a man who, had he been slightly more scandalous and privileged, would have made a nice addition to Capital Hill.
It's a historically-established fact that athletes galvanize the American public while politicians lie to it. The union of those forces must be some type of improvement, and even if it weren't the population would still be well-galvanized, which can be healthy. And though their demanding schedules leave little room for such a commitment, there are a number of suitable athletes who, despite having little to no prior political involvement or even interest, could prove to be quite beneficial at the president's flank. Ironically enough, few of these potential player-politician running mates would be actual runners, as they would have trouble passing the drug tests.
But those drug tests wouldn't stop Lance Armstrong, who as he's proven time and tinkle again has passed his screenings as easily as he does the 189 competitors on the mountainous Valreas / Villard-de-Lans leg of the Tour De France. Easily one of the most respected figures in . . . well, the world, there's no limit to what Armstrong could offer to an already-adoring public. With his involvement in cancer research, he'd be a boon to the tumultuous health-care debate, and that this hard-nosed Texan has made a career out of mauling the French with his Huffy will surely secure a bulk of the ethnocentric vote.
Running a campaign is doubtlessly as tiring as running the point, making tireless Pistons guard Richard "Rip" Hamilton and his claim to be the best-conditioned player in basketball a valuable asset to have on the trail. Hamilton has experience with Washington courtesy of a three-year stint with the Wizards, and his newfound title of "'world champion' surely grants him a certain degree of authority for foreign relations. Plus, after "'Dick' and "'Al,' the name "'Rip' would be a welcome change.
Or, if curbing the apathy of our nation's youth is truly a concern, what better way to rock the vote than with Freddy Adu on the ticket? In just his first MLS season, Adu has single-footedly increased the nation's interest in soccer; surely his involvement in the election would have a similar effect on young voter turnout. Conveniently, he's already in D.C., and though his inevitable purchase by a European football club will complicate his vice-presidency, he'd still be around more than Cheney.
But to keep priorities straight, none of the aforementioned concerns health care and France-bashing, disengaged youth and bland monosyllabic first names are as important as the current state of foreign relations and ethnic tension. That's why Tiger Woods, whose heritage spans every known ethnicity and minority, would be an ideal ambassador. He's already a proven success on international golf and dating scenes; why would politics be any different?
Of course, in the end, this entire discussion is moot. Age limitations on the presidency prevent most of the athletes from actually running just as it prevents our country from ever having a government that isn't two generations out-of-touch meaning that Adu would have to wait until his age triples before he's eligible. No matter; the decision has already been made, and regardless of who wins, we're stuck with another four years mired in politicking. As for those worthy candidates that have been brought to light, they'll have to shelve those political ambitions that they probably don't have and continue to focus on their respective sports. The country probably isn't at the point where an inexperienced athlete could hold a major political office, anyway.
After all, it's not like they're actors.