The Note

But I will not submit to this pressure. I will not choose out of fear. Not for this decision. Not for eight years of partnership.

There are many opinions that matter: those of my wife, my brother and my children, for example. I'd take Teresa's advice over the entire Dewey Square contingent any day -- well, perhaps except for Jill Alper's.

If I choose John Edwards, it's because I will choose him. It's because I will feel that he is the right person for the job. The man who can complement my strengths and soften my weaknesses, whatever those may be.

It won't be because the New York Times and Joe Klein and David Rudd and Tom Oliphant think he'll save our party. (Incidentally, anyone who says I'm afraid of being overshadowed by a young, charismatic guy has never considered my relationship with David Wade.)

I thought reporters were unimaginative BEFORE this process started. I cannot believe how often Jodi, Matea, and Ed ask me the same five questions about this again and again, as if they are suddenly going to get me to give something up, or as if the comments and jokes are suddenly humorous or interesting.

And don't get me started on the local reporters!

I've stayed true to my plan -- we have run a confidential process, with very little floating around about Nunn's gay rights record or corporate boards, and the names of a few of the people I've considered haven't surfaced at all.

But this cloak and dagger stuff of secret meetings and shuttling in and out is so silly -- one can meet with people without the press knowing -- and I have.

Bill Clinton, a fellow who knows a little bit about picking vice presidents, has told me often that the only criterion that matters -- the only one -- is that I gotta be able to trust the person I pick. Trust. I cannot be looking over my shoulder. I should never, as president, have to think for one minute, that my vice president is working at cross purposes from me.

I get it.

Can Dick Gephardt stand toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney and discuss foreign policy during their debate?

Can Dick articulate my domestic policies?

Can I trust Dick's staff completely? (Man, that Elmendorf is dogged . . . )

Can I completely trust Dick Gephardt?

Does my family like him?

Am I confident enough in my chances that I don't need to choose someone with a golden smile?

Would he be seen as the middle class son of a Teamster who has faced the real problems of everyday people through several generations, or as a tax-loving Washington insider who was born in a suit?

Or I must ask these questions:

Do I need to rile up my base any more? Do Democrats need any more convincing to vote against George W. Bush?

Do I need to choose someone whom I don't trust completely?

Do I need to cede back foreign policy and anti-terrorism credentials to George W. Bush?

My team insists they can stage a Midwestern battleground state tour, successfully launching anyone I want to choose and getting us good coverage.

I'll be glad when this is over. It was funny to hear two ABC reporters speculate that my mood and body language suggests to them that I have made a decision.

Kerry enters.

Marvin, can you get John McCain on the cell phone again?

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