Rumors that Condoleezza Rice will be John McCain's VP keep popping up, and keep getting smacked back down. Of course, as I am learning on my trip here in Israel, Rice is actually a far less viable Vice-Presidential candidate than people think, since running for VP in 2008 means she would have to completely abandon her role in the newly reconstituted peace process in Israel. Simply put, there can not be a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace process without the United States acting as a third-party facilitator for the talks, and for the first seven years of the Bush administration the biggest complaint the Israelis had with the United States is that it had entirely disengaged with the process. Only in the last few months has Rice begun to finally begun to do the work necessary to keep the talks going on even the most narrowly viable level. While she is receiving some praise for her apparent earnest--though probably far too late--interest in the process over here, if she were to run for vice-president now, it would mean an instant end to the process, all for her personal glory of achieving greater power. It is hard to think of a worse way to begin your campaign for vice-president than by personally causing the nascent peace talks to end in the interests of self-glorification. And I'm sure that causing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to spontaneously combust for the interests of his campaign would work really well for McCain, given that he is already facing regular charges of desiring endless war in Iraq, escalated war in Afghanistan, and new war with Iran.
While Rice is an impossible vice-presidential pick for McCain, and while she has repeatedly stated that she will not run for the spot, that her name keeps cropping up is a sign of the sorry state of the Republican Party nationwide. Simply put, Republicans keep suggesting Rice because, besides McCain, she is the only Republican with a remotely positive national profile right now. There is no other Republican who McCain could choose as VP that could help McCain anywhere outside of the prospective VP's home state. Charlie Crist might help McCain in Florida, but otherwise there just isn't someone out there who can make a real difference for him pretty much anywhere. Don't expect McCain to get any real boost from his VP.
For that matter, I'm starting to feel more and more confident about the general election overall. McCain has led Obama in only three of the last eleven general election polls, and that is before Obama starts pressing his very real advantages in the general election. Come June, Obama will be able to start pushing advantages like a 3-1 fundraising advantage, vastly superior grassroots energy and organization, real media focus on McCain, a slowly uniting Democratic Party, and no more validating of Republican attacks on topics like "inexperience" and "Jeremiah Wright" by the Clinton campaign (although those have largely stopped now, anyway). If Obama enters the general election phase of the campaign tied with McCain, you have to feel really good about Obama's chances in the general election. I heard that something like 60% of New Hampshire women think McCain is pro-choice, for example. Misinformation like that won't thrive as well once people actually start paying attention to him.