It's Veepstakes time again, and with the Democratic ticket a foregone conclusion, attention is naturally focused upon Republican candidate Bob Dole's running-mate-to-be. Out here in Dustbury, there has been some suggestion that Oklahoma governor Frank Keating might be tapped for the number-two slot. Much of this is wishful thinking, another manifestation of the state's ongoing longing for some sort of national image besides Tom Joad heading down old 66. But it's not outside the realm of possibility that the Dole campaign might look to Keating for Vice-President, which makes it all the more urgent that I explain why this would be a lousy idea.
1. Frank Keating will not help with the electoral vote.
2. Frank Keating has no national or even regional constituency.
3. There's nothing you can get from Frank Keating that you can't get elsewhere.
4. Frank Keating is something of a doofus.
"Still, Dole could do worse," your humble scribe murmurs, images of, say, Vice-President Dornan suddenly emerging from the black pit of his subconscious. And indeed he could. Dole's campaign up to now hasn't offered too many flashes of brilliance, after all. Then again, even this potential cloud possesses a lining of some semi-useful metal; a Dole-Keating ticket, if successful, would at least serve the noble and worthy purpose of getting Feckless Frank out of here two years ahead of schedule. I suppose it's too late to sign up as a state delegate.
Update, 3 August 1996:
Since this went up, speculation has shifted away from Governor Keating in favor of Senator Don Nickles. While the political differences between the two are small, and while Nickles is not likely to be a major asset to the Republican ticket either, he's definitely an improvement over Keating.
For one, while Keating mortgaged his soul to the Religious Right, Nickles didn't have to he was already there in right field, well in advance of their latter-day machinations. Everything I've seen tends to indicate that Nickles actually believes their stuff, which gives him a couple of points for integrity that wouldn't go to an opportunist like Keating.
For another, Nickles doesn't screw up. I can think of only one pronouncement he's made that he might regret his 1980 campaign statement that people (like his opponent) should not serve more than two terms in the Senate. Of course, Nickles is now on his third term. Apart from his questionable commitment to term limits, though, the Senator hasn't had to resort to large-scale backpedaling, uncommon enough these days.
And finally, Nickles is not likely to become an object of ridicule, which has to be worth something to all those beleaguered GOP stalwarts out there.
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Copyright © 1996 by Charles G. Hill