There are a few names that are getting a lot of press as a Kerry running mate — John Edwards, a Southerner with good name recognition and good looks who could give the campaign some Southern cred, There are a few midwesterners, including Dick Gephardt, Dick Durbin and Evan Bayh who could pull a few middle America votes. But none of these is an impact choice. None of them would change the face or the feeling of a Kerry campaign. In other words — yawn. Can you say Lloyd Bentsen? Sure, Bentsen outclassed and embarassed Dan Quayle, but he did little to change the agenda of the campaign.

On the other hand, Kerry could make a more daring choice and try to actually make the campaign something more than Kerry v. Bush — something more than democrat v. republican. Here are three choices:

1) Retired General Eric Shinseki. Shinseki is a class act. 4 star general. Decorated Vietnam vet. Lots of foreign policy experience (NATO, Bosnia, UN). Respected by his peers in the military in a way Wes Clark can only dream about. Asian heritage would be a significant draw in California. Would solidify the National Defense angle of the Kerry campaign. Shinseki could legitimately tell Bush/Cheney that their war plan failed: “I told you the occupation needed 300,000 troops. It went all wrong because you didn’t listen to me”.

2) Former Texas Governor Ann Richards. A fearsome political force in Texas. Bu choosing Richards, Kerry would send the message that Bush is not even safe in his home state. She could legitimately raise issues with Bush’s mismanagement of the State of Texas when he was governor. As a woman who is fairly conservative for a Democrat, she could paint a very non-radical yet progressive face to the Democratic party.

3) Senator John McCain. Officially a Republican, McCain is increasingly getting ticked off at the Bush administration, and no one would be surprised if he defects. As a Vietnam vet and POW he could legitimately raise the details of what it is like to be tortured — and then accuse Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz of being the torturers. However, McCain is running for reelection to the Senate, so its unlikely he would accept if Kerry asked him.