How to Pick a Veep

There's no right way to choose a No. 2. McCain and Obama have to decide what matters most: heft, diversity, party unity, regional balance, buzz — or a combination of all five

From Top: McNew / Getty; Greenblatt / Landov; Tama / Getty; FilmMagic / Getty; McNamee / Getty; Somodevilla / Getty; Wong / Getty; Winter / NY Times / Redux; Jackson / AP; Wilson / Getty; Tama / Getty; Ondrey / Plain Dealer / AP

One of the stranger ironies the Constitution has bestowed on American politics is this: some 50 million people just finished choosing the parties' two nominees in a grueling, yearlong primary campaign that cost millions of dollars and captivated the world. But when it comes to picking vice-presidential nominees, only two people on the planet get a vote: John McCain and Barack Obama. Between an explosion of democracy in the spring and an even bigger explosion of self-determination in the fall is a brief interlude of, well, something that Vladimir Putin could probably live with....

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