THE HEADLINE above Brent Larkin's flattering Sunday column in the Plain Dealer about Sen. Rob Portman captures the flavor of what will surely be the design of Ohio's conservative newspapers (the majority!) as the presidential campaign shambles toward the GOP convention:
"Safe, steady Portman looks like VP material"
Indeed, he does. Lean and unthreatening, even in a neatly pressed Republican establishment business suit, Portman has been the gleam in GOP eyes long before he was considered statewide as "safe" and "steady." His cheering section began in earnest when George W. Bush added the Cincinnatian to the first team, first as trade representative and then as director of the Office of Management and Budget - two words that now seem mutually exclusive considering the economic mess that Bush left his successor.
Portman resigned after one year on the job in order, he said, to spend more time with his family, although by 2007, the glow was dimming considerably from Dubya. In Portman's year at the OMB helm, the Federal deficit rose $469 billion.
Should we mention at this point that it was left to no less a conservative than Utah's Orrin Hatch to identify the Bushies' fingerprints at the scene. The forever-prim senator allowed that they wanted a "lot of things without paying for them." With Republicans in high offices and their wannabes, nothing ever changes.
Although it seems a tad early to be seeding the Republican ticket with entries that qualify as logical Veep choices, political writers become bored quickly without speculation in the political version of sports " bracketeers".
What does it all mean when it comes to the No. 2 slot on a national ticket? Unless the rules of engagement have changed dramatically, I can only report what I had heard a thousand times from the political deep thinkers as I traipsed after candidates, that veeps cannot help the candidate at the top, so their selection must be based on a running mate who can't hurt you.
Enter safe and steady Portman. But wasn't "safeness" one of the strikes that editorial writers used against ex-gov. Ted Strickland when they endorsed the other guy? Media rule: Don't look for consistency. Ever.