McCain doesn't have the nomination yet but if he gets it there's a compelling argument for him to pick Colin Powell as his veep. The conventional wisdom is that McCain will need to secure his right flank and select an undisputed conservative. But McCain could take a page from the Clinton-Gore campaign and choose amplification over diversification. In 1992, Clinton chose a moderate southerner from a neighboring state no less who was in his age cohort. Powell would buttress McCain's national security credentials and echo his political philosophy, although I suspect that Powell is probably to the left of McCain on abortion, taxes and the like. McCain and Powell are personally close and while it's not essential to choose someone you like and respect--JFK and LBJ come to mind--it's not a bad thing either and it has the air of authenticity which is supposed to be John McCain's claim to fame. If he were to pick someone who disagreed with him on campaign finance reform, a gay marriage amendment to the constitution and global warming it would be hard to mount the Straight Talk express in quite the same way.

Of course, Colin Powell isn't what he used to be. Like Tony Blair or Tom Friedman, he suffered from the Bush war in Iraq. Powell may have been appropriately skeptical about the war but he promoted it and didn't speak out publicly against it and so his élan isn't what it was the last time everyone talked about Powell as a veep.

Race, though, makes Powell a compelling choice. If Clinton gets the nomination, African American voters are going to feel disappointed at seeing someone of their race get so close and then be deprived of the nomination.

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