Alex Massie

Shadowing the GOP

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Ezra Klein asks if Jim Webb is "too good for the Vice-Presidency". And perhaps he is. Or rather, he'd be more useful to Democrats if he remained in the Senate, uninhibited by the restrictions imposed by the Vice-Presidency. And perhaps that too is so. Nonetheless Ezra's piece also demonstrates the extent to which Webb is by some way the most interesting but also, perhaps, riskiest choice Obama could make.

Still, here's another notion: Obama might consider naming some members of his cabinet this summer, creating a British-style shadow cabinet to act as spokesmen for his campaign during the general election. Clearly, all such nominees would remain subject to Congressional confirmation, but there'd be some advantage to Obama suggesting who his choices for State, Defence, the Treasury and Justice might be. It's true that John McCain doesn't have any executive experience either, but one would expect the Republicans to make an issue of Obama's inexperience at a national level. (Of course, Obama can point out that he was right about the war at a time when most of Washington was wrong. But still, he is inexperienced.)

Creating a shadow cabinet might help Obama deflect those criticisms, while also giving voters an even clearer idea of how his administration would differ from McCain's. As I've said before, the fact that George W Bush's advisors proved incompetent in office shouldn't blind us to the fact that the presence of exprienced Washington hands (Cheney, Rice, Wolfowitz) in his inner circle helped Bush in the general election campaign. Equally, as the last eight years have demonstrated, a President is, to some extent at any rate, only as effective as his subordinates. It might be useful to know who Obama has in mind for these crucial posts.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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