(Note there are a few edits are at the bottom, added on the 10th (Sam Nunn) and 11th (Chris Dodd)
With the news a few days ago of Virginia Sen. Jim Web declaring he will not be VP under "any circumstances" I decided to really try and figure out who might be the Democratic VP.
The VP pick is an interesting one because it is the #2 position in the US Government, but no one will vote for this person. They are there to support and represent the president both during elections and in office. They all must be capable of being president themselves of course, however I see the former duties almost certainly qualifying them for the latter. A good VP should also reflect well on some aspect of the president, and at the same time defend against weaknesses (the extent to which they can do either of these things is debatable) Obama's strength this election come from his resounding call for change, and the motivational way he delivers that message. Things are changing and we need a new leader to organizes the American people and repair America. His weakness come on reliability and experience. Am I sure that I can believe this guy? What does he know about Iraq/the economy/the government anyway? So who can shoot that gap?
I can group the VP front runner race into three categories. Match, Conflict, and Liability.
Starting with Liability. These are people who in real world performance have failed to deliver politicly on a national scale. They are often good as vocal supporters, but are not right for VP. The would all make fantastic cabinet appointees.
Gen. Wesley Clark - whose presidential campaign I supported in 2004 was doomed literally on day one with a casual conversation on the back of a plane. Also no governing experience.
Sen. Joe Biden - Smart/tough/egg head senator from Delaware who can never gain traction and spent much time defending himself and/or making jokes during the primary. Nice guy, only good in the senate.
Gov. Bill Richardson - Bill is an odd candidate. He is someone who everyone likes, has an impressive resume, but for some reason completely fails to motivate anyone.
Tom Daschle - Same as Biden and Richardson
The Conflict candidates. These would be people who do not represent change and have the potential to disrupt the otherwise harmonious Obama campaign machine. They are often talked about for their "bipartisanship" but it is not Obama's kind of bipartisanship. Many of them are very successful and come from red states. They are also mostly have an older sounding political rhetoric that is distinctly non-Obama.Gov. Kathleen Sebelius - If Obama made his political carer starting with his stunning keynote address, the Kansas Governor doomed hers with her 2006 democratic response to the state of the union. She might still be able to get back up to a match however.
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) - He is a Republican. That is political doom often put forward by Republicans who dislike McCain and don't understand Obama.
Gov. Tom Vilsack - Iowa governor. Quiet and not motivational.
Sen. Evan Bayh - I wanted him to be on my match list because he gets talked about quite a bit, but in the end I can't see it. He is very polished but a non-motivational, hugs-all-around, conservative Democrat. But he is on the intelligence committee and could put Indiana in play...
Sen. Hillary Clinton - She could overshadow Obama and doesn't speak his language. Bill is still mad at him. She has many supporters and a huge money machine though.
The Matches. Well, I got rid of just about everyone! And in the end I don't have a #1 VP pick. Webb used to top the list of Matches so I will start with the next Virginian on my list:
Gov Tim Kaine - First he is a good energetic speaker and one of the earliest Obama supporters out there. Virginia is in play this year and him running could swing the state. Bad news is that if he ran, VA would get a Republican governer.
Gov Brian Schwitzer - An 'aw shucks' governer of Montana and a model new Democrat. A little more libritarian on some issues (Gun control: "You control your gun, I'll control mine.") but knows how to run good government in often hostile circumstances. He is Obama's kind of bi-partisan. It's not that he "works with Republicans to get things done," it's that his ideas just work better at getting things done so Republicans vote for him anyway.
Sen. John Edwards - "Always the bridesmaid and never the bride" is what Edwards seems to be fated too, but he would be a good VP and he has the name recogntion that none of the others have. He is a great speaker, and backs up Obama on healthcare and economic issues. He has said too that if asked, "he will serve."
EDIT: Thanks to "anonymous" in the comments, I just threw Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn into the mix - whom for some reason I missed as a top contender
Sen. Sam Nunn - Described as the "Gray Beard" of the possible candidates Sam Nunn was in the House of Representatives when Obama was 7 (he is still 3 years younger than McCain). He has a resume that extends as long as that serving as the Georgia Senator for 24 years. He is also a conservative Democrat, but part of his strength might be his diminutive stature as a VP. In other words, if Nunn were VP he wouldn't steal the spotlight and would provide good backup on the experience front.
EDIT II: News now that Chris Dodd is getting vetted, and he's in the matches!
Sen. Chris Dodd - Chris Dodd is a long term Connecticut senator (joined the house in 1975) who is sharp as a tack. His 2008 campaign for president failed much like Bill Richardson's, but he is a stronger speaker, and was against the war early. Problems might come from from his recent involvement in the financial industry and his position on the committee that oversees financial matters. Oops!
Then there are always non-definitive people from important states, this time Ted Strickland from OH, Claire McCaskill from MU, and Ed Rendell from PA, but they don't bring anything to the table besides geography.
Long, long post, and I will be interested to see if any of it rings true when we do get a VP pick. Kerry tapped Edwards July 6th, so the clock is ticking...