For several weeks now, Washington insiders have been furiously engaged in the quadrennial ritual known as “veepstakes speculation” — trading theories about the identity of, in this case, Mitt Romney’s future running mate. Journalists and pundits love this ritual because it’s impossible to tell in advance who the person will be, so everyone feels free to speculate wildly, which is easier, and a lot more fun, than actually reporting.
But it isn’t very edifying. And to the average person seeking to understand the significance of the choice, it’s often misleading because the qualities prized by the activists and media handicappers are rarely the same ones found in a good vice president. With signs suggesting that Romney is about to announce his decision, perhaps as soon as this weekend, it’s worth cutting through the hype to explain what this choice will reveal about the state of the race.