miércoles, 16 de mayo de 2012

El examen para ser Vicepresidente

A.B. Culvahouse, responsable del proceso de selección del running-mate de John McCain hace cuatro años, y preparador durante 30 años de los potenciales candidatos a Vicepresidente, cuenta en The Wall Street Journal en qué consiste el proceso. Es más duro que sacarse la plaza en unas oposiciones.  

A short list of five to 15 leading Americans soon will be notified that the presumptive Republican nominee for president believes they are serious contenders to be his running mate. They will be asked for their agreement to join him on the GOP ticket if chosen, and in the meantime, to submit to a most intrusive and far-reaching vetting by lawyers and advisers working for the campaign. No other candidate, not even the presidential nominee himself, is subjected to the same scrutiny.

(...) In 2008, our team began by preparing vetting reports on a list of more than two dozen individuals who, unbeknownst to them, had been selected for consideration by Sen. McCain. We mined public databases, media archives, political blogs and other sources that allowed our search to remain discreet. Those who survived the winnowing from long list to short were rewarded with the most intimate examination known to politics.

Short-listed potential VP nominees are required to hand over tax returns, medical histories, financial statements, court records, and anything else labeled "private and confidential," while also answering the most probing questions about themselves, their spouses, their children and their extended family—questions I would not dream of posing in any other context.

Yet, as in all campaigns, if we had allowed good manners to intervene, anything we missed surely would have been dredged up by someone else. In 1976, the Ford campaign's vetting questionnaire had 16 questions; the one we used in 2008 had almost 80, with multiple subparts. We asked about infidelity, sexual harassment, discrimination, plagiarism, alcohol or drug addiction, delinquent taxes, credit history, and use of government positions or resources for personal benefit. Nothing was off-limits.

The vetting of Sarah Palin was no less rigorous, just compressed. She was a late addition to the short list, catapulted into contention by the campaign's calculus that a woman would broaden the ticket's appeal. Our team of lawyers churned out the expected detailed written vetting report—only we packed eight weeks of research into less than one. We pulled information from Alaska-centric websites, including her local critics' blogs and copies of Wasilla church sermons.

Assisted by the candid information Gov. Palin provided, we identified and reported every issue that subsequently arose (with one exception: her husband's membership in the Alaska Independence Party).

That includes her daughter's pregnancy, which the governor raised in a private discussion, and the ethics investigation into the July 2008 dismissal of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan for allegedly refusing to fire the governor's ex-brother-in-law, which later became known as "Troopergate." In fact, we presented the McCain campaign with a six-page analysis of that initial investigation, and in November 2008 the Alaska State Personnel Board found that Gov. Palin had not violated any ethics laws.

Gov. Palin's responses to my standard hypothetical questions—Was she prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend our country? Would she authorize a strike against Osama bin Laden if she knew that numerous civilians also would be killed?—portrayed impressive resolve and sensitivity.

Nevertheless, I advised Sen. McCain that because her duties had never encompassed foreign policy or defense issues Gov. Palin would not be ready to be vice president on Jan. 20, 2009—but that I believed she had the presence and wherewithal to grow into the position. I summed up her selection as "high risk, high reward." I stand by that advice.

In our current presidential election, despite the many political risks and personal indignities involved, I predict that few on Gov. Mitt Romney's short list will decline the opportunity to be considered. In my experience, when potential VP nominees are asked to submit themselves to the vetting process, their thoughtful reasons to decline—and perhaps their ambitious motives to accept—are overcome by feelings that are more instinctively noble.

In the summer of 2008 I asked each person on John McCain's short list, "Why do you want to be vice president?" The question hardly was a surprise, but after the scripted answer was finished, every potential nominee began to speak from the heart about honor, service and obligation, on occasion with moist eyes. Their successors on the short list this election cycle deserve our respect in the same measure as they will receive our scrutiny.

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