Insiders have been quietly saying for months, in fourth paragraphs, that Kansas Governor Sebelius is on Obama’s short list. But she is unknown to nearly everyone in the country. It seems entirely possible that Senator Obama is trotting out all kinds of men for public vetting, leading the media by the nose and misdirecting them so that his choice will be a dramatic surprise to the electorate. But have you noticed? He is not trotting out any women.

It would be a major affront to women for Obama to give high profile screening to so many men and not a single woman–unless he were already planning to select a woman to be his vice president. In that case, he would play up the element of surprise by giving low profile treatment to the woman he’d decided to ask. There are several reasons to suspect he will announce within the next few days that his choice is the popular and respected Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Republican-turned-Democrat who balanced the budget and won two landslide elections  in a heavily Republican state. 

Consider these factors:

 —Selecting Governor Sebelius would be a bold and unconventional choice, which has been the Obama campaign style all along.

—The old rule of politics would mandate that Obama pick someone prominent in the establishment to “balance the ticket.” But that would be inconsistent with his own mission of “change.” Why would he consider multiple retread names like Bayh or Biden, establishment males? A president plugs the gaps in his/her own personal deficits with cabinet and counselor positions, not necessarily with a vice president. 

—It would energize women voters and attract the attention of blue collar voters (remember, Sebelius is from Kansas), two groups with which Obama has had some problems.

—It would help neutralize Hillary. She has already arranged to have her name put up for a roll call. (It would be a “catharsis” for women voters). It might also be chaotic. An 11th hour surprise from Team Clinton would hardly be a surprise.

—The fact that Sebelius is unknown to most of the country would be an advantage in this case. The reason? It would guarantee large scale media coverage–massive free publicity–as the press scrambles to help introduce her to a public that has heard almost nothing about her or her impressive accomplishments.

—This coverage would keep Obama’s campaign in the news at a time when polls have reported that voters are suffering from “Obama fatigue“–they are tired of hearing his name in the news all the time. So the focus would be on Kathleen Sebelius for awhile and off of Barack Obama. That would give the public time to rest up from Obamamania, meet an interesting new candidate, and still have the Obama phenomenon in front of them in a less obtrusive way.

—This blizzard of publicity would tend to be a distraction from the Republican Convention coverage and slow down the momentum McCain would normally get from these highly scripted carnivals.
—The Sebelius record in Kansas is very strong on two of the biggest election issues–healthcare and clean energy and would highlight the contrast with McCain’s call to drill for more of the oil we are already addicted to. Neither the insurance industry nor the coal industry were any match for this iron-willed and politically skilled woman.

—Obama has stated that he wants a running mate who speaks their mind, not a yes-person. Sample several of the YouTube videos of Governor Sebelius and see how long it takes you to notice that she fulfills this requirement. The videos will also give you a better idea of how prominent this “unknown” person is within the Democratic hierarchy and why she might be an even stronger candidate than several other qualified women in the party.

Sebelius would be a non-traditional choice running with a non-traditional candidate in a decidedly non-traditional election year in which the voters, utterly sick of the status quo, are likely to vote non-traditionally.

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