Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hillary Not A Dream VP

For the past six months, the buzz within and among certain Democratic circles has been that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would make an unbeatable dream team in the 2008 presidential election. That buzz, clearly initiated by Ms. Clinton's supporters, never gained any traction within Mr. Obama's camp, particularly since the view of those perpetuating the notion was that Mr. Obama would be on the undercard of such a ticket.

In the past two weeks, things have changed rather dramatically. Though most informed observers long ago noted that the math did not add up to a nomination for Ms. Clinton, it was not until two weeks ago that Ms. Clinton's camp seriously began considering the possibility that she might lose in her nomination bid.

The Clinton camp's revised assessment of the political landscape has led to renewed calls from Clinton supporters for what they refer to as a "Dream Ticket." The difference now is that Ms. Clinton would be the undercard with Mr. Obama on top.

For some--mostly supporters of Ms. Clinton--such a ticket would indeed be the ideal pairing of candidates in this election season. The theory floated by advocates of such a pairing is that Ms. Clinton's addition to the ticket would bring both experience and votes into the fold.

Despite the lure of possibly adding 18,000,000 voters to the vote tally in November, however, this is one offer that Mr. Obama most assuredly should decline.

The warning signs for Mr. Obama are everywhere. To begin with, it is not at all clear why someone who purports to be a get-it-done person in the U.S. Senate would wish to serve in one of the least useful political positions in the U.S. As Senator, Ms. Clinton could continue to push for the health care reforms for which she purports to have had gained support in congress. With Ted Kennedy's future in the august body in doubt, there would be no more important role for Ms. Clinton to fill than as mantel bearer for the Kennedy-wing of the Democratic Party.

While Dick Cheney has carved out a niche for himself as Vice President, a niche the likes of which none of his predecessors every even remotely approached in terms of scope and power, such a role simply would not be available under an Obama Presidency that appears committed to at least a modicum of transparency and has the ability to lead from the top.

Even if there were a significant role to be played by Ms. Clinton as a Vice President, however, the addition of Ms. Clinton to an Obama Administration would be fraught with peril for Mr. Obama. Setting aside some of the bizarre things that occurred to high-ranking officials during the Clinton Administration, Mr. Obama surely would have to maintain a keen vigilance against what one would presume to be a frustrated, power-hungry Vice President. Adding Ms. Clinton to the ticket would be the equivalent of Harry Truman having added James Byrnes to the top of his ticket. It simply would not play well for the President.

And if Ms. Clinton would have difficulty accepting a subservient role in the White House, imagine the difficulties that Mr. Obama would face having to confront a meddling former President walking through the corridors of the White House on a daily basis. Republicans would have nothing on Mr. Clinton in the realm of making life purposefully difficult for Mr. Obama.

While having Ms. Clinton as a Vice President is fraught with peril for Mr. Obama, there appears to be no meaningful upside to such a move and at least one far superior option.

Although Ms. Clinton, her advisors, and her coiterie of well-healed supporters already have begun lobbying for Ms. Clinton's inclusion on the Obama ticket--with Lanny Davis even stating that Mr. Obama's failure to include Ms. Clinton on the ticket would result in the loss of support from many of those who supported Ms. Clinton in the primaries (and, presumably, the few who supported her in the caucuses)---there is scant historical evidence to support the contention that the move is necessary for Mr. Obama to win the election.

Moreover, Mr. Obama has a far superior alternative to Ms. Clinton as a running mate. While Ms. Clinton represents established politics and hails from a state almost certain to vote democrat in November and would bring the baggage of divisiveness and campaign trail vitriol to the ticket, John Edwards would be a friendly, reliable running mate for Mr. Obama and would help off-set fears in some quarters about having a black man in office. Edwards would also help solidify at least portions of the South and stand as a moderate voice of inclusion on the campaign trail.

By contrast, Ms. Clinton virtually could be counted on to muse about "what should have been" as she campaigned on behalf of Mr. Obama. And, even more certainly, she could be counted on to invoke the politics of divisiveness, as she did on two fronts during what should have been a concession speech on Tuesday night when she not only continued to divide the Democratic Party but also disingenuously portrayed the "deserving America" as one that has no place for hard-working CEOs, good politicians, honest brokers, or Republicans of any stripe. That's not what Mr. Obama represents and it is something the supporters of which his ticket ought not now pander. Even Ms. Clinton should understand this.

Ever filled with a sense of entitlement, however, Ms. Clinton and her top aides have decided to hold out on conceding the nomination until they get what they want. It is a decision that could make what should be a runaway November victory for Mr. Obama as close as either of the past two elections. In the long run, it would be a fatally flawed decision for Ms. Clinton who most assuredly could kiss good-bye any future political aspirations outside of New York.

Up Next: Obama's Mandate

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