They're Just Kidding

by digby

These Obama people are funny:

Obama's vice presidential search team has floated the name of a former member of President Bush's first-term cabinet, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, as Obama's running mate.


The mention of Veneman's name surprised Democratic lawmakers. The low-profile Republican was close to food and agriculture industries but clashed with farm-state Democrats and environmentalists during her tenure, which lasted from 2001 to 2004.


The selection of a Republican could bolster Obama's unifying message, a Capitol Hill Democrat familiar with the discussion said.

"You select a strong independent woman who appeals to Republicans and independents, and so that's hard to beat," the Hill source said, explaining the logic of the possible choice. "Choosing someone like [Veneman] doesn't hurt you with the Democrats. It just doesn't hurt you. But it helps you with Independents and Republicans."


Choosing Veneman would be a way to "show that he can get things done without all the partisanship," said the Democrat familiar with the discussions. "Her appeal would be nonideological. It would be, 'I'm just here to get the work done.' She's not a hot-button conservative."


Though Veneman's biography and Republican affiliation make her a plausible, if surprising, candidate to be Obama's running mate, the mention of her name was met with incredulity on Capitol Hill.

"Are you serious?" one lawmaker asked vetters when Veneman's name came up, a second source familiar with the conversations said.

The surprise stems from the fact that, while Veneman was seen as an experienced leader for her department, she often clashed with Democrats on a central battle front of the Bush years: regulation. Veneman was criticized by some Democrats and environmentalists, and praised by agriculture and food interests, for lightly regulating the industries and for encouraging trade and biotechnology during her tenure.

When she resigned, the American Meat Institute praised her "vision and commitment."

She also clashed with Democrats — including then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who is now an Obama confidant — over subsidies for small farmers, which they sought to expand.

In the best-known incident of her tenure, she led the administration's response to cases of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, known as mad cow disease. The epidemic was contained, but the relatively light U.S. testing regime has led to continuing barriers for American beef exports.

It's ridiculous, of course.

Isn't it?