by Jake Maccoby
As speculation as to who presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama will choose as his Vice Presidential running mate continues to ramp up, with time edging nearer to the traditional summer selection period, some insiders and pundits believe the Illinois Senator may have already made his choice.
During dinner at the Olive Garden, Senator Obama had a cordial conversation with men’s room attendant Arthur Finklestein, who reportedly told the Senator that he was “planning on supporting” him, perhaps “even doing some handing out flyers if the hip cooperates.” The declaration, believed to be tantamount to an endorsement, had the political classes buzzing as the towel jockey’s pros and cons are weighed in comparison to other entrants in the Veepstakes.
Some believe that Finklestein’s humble background would attract those hard-working Americans, white Americans, that Senator Hillary Clinton largely dominated in the Democratic primaries.
“For someone who talks about changing Washington, this would be a very exciting pick,” said James Carville, who had previously characterized an Obama-Clinton ticket as “a very exciting pick” that would “in no way destroy the Democratic Party and leave the nation a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland.”
Another factor working in Finklestein’s favor was his breadth of experience. At 73-years old, a year older than presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, the bathroom attendant boasts an impressive resume, having lived through a World War, a Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Olive Garden-Red Lobster conflict of 1992, when the seafood chain moved in across the highway, touching off a fierce battle before the Olive Garden drove it to relocation in May, 1993.
Margaret Carlson, a journalist at Bloomberg News, agreed that Obama’s conversation with Finklestein showed that the hygiene professional was regarded by the Obama Campaign as a “top-teir contender.”
Earlier speculation for the vice-presidency had swirled around New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson after his endorsement in April, former Senator John Edwards after his endorsement in June, Senator Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and, following a successful box-office release, The Incredible Hulk. It is also speculated that if the search drags on, a successful July 18th weekend would see Batman thrown into the mix, as well.
Wolf Blitzer, a CNN reporter and host of “The Situation Room,” was similarly effusive.
“Yeah, we were pretty sure about Richardson, Edwards, Clinton, Gore, [Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck] Hagel, [Ohio Governor Ted] Strickland, and [Virginia Senator Jim] Webb—but Finklestein? This is the guy, for sure.”
When asked whether Finklestein was under consideration for the position, the Obama campaign would neither confirm nor deny the reports.
“Arthur is a dedicated, tireless public servant,” said Obama campaign spokesman David Plouffe. “Naturally, he would be on anybody’s shortlist.”
Finklestein played down the likelihood of his selection, but refused to rule out the possibility.
“Right now I’m happy to serve the good people of Olive Garden,” he said. “I’m not seeking the vice presidency, I’m not expecting to be offered the vice presidency, but if Senator Obama thinks I’m the best candidate, then we’ll have that conversation. Until then, I’ll just go on and on about the pesto pasta and my nominally athletic grandson who scored a lucky goal last weekend in the in-town soccer league.”