Thursday, July 24, 2008

Clinton backer demands an empowered Vice-Presidency for Hillary and dubious Fox News poll lends support to the “Pick Hillary or else crowd”

From a constitutional point of view the Vice-President’s responsibilities are limited to presiding over the Senate (which they rarely do) and standing ready to assume the Presidency should something happen to the President. Some recent Vice-Presidents have had expanded powers, although mainly at the discretion of the President. Hillary clearly seeks not only the Vice-Presidency but expanded powers up front. Despite Hillary’s public position of deference to Obama and indifference to the Vice-Presidency, her supporters are being much more candid, some surprisingly so. No, I’m not talking about the idiot PUMAs (bitter pro-Hillary anti-Obama sore losers) but rather the former Governor of Vermont, Madeleine M. Kunin. Aside from the usual “Hillary is so great” rhetoric, today’s Op-Ed piece includes this statement.

“In order for the union [of Obama and Hillary] to work, Clinton will have to be offered a clearly defined portfolio of responsibilities.” (italics added)
Really? The sheer brazenness of that statement is stunning. When has a person seeking the Vice-Presidency every made such a demand? In public, no less! Of course this isn’t coming from the Clintons themselves, but given Kunin’s stature she isn’t just some voice in the wilderness but rather a Hillary insider. People who support Barack and are open to having Hillary is VP should consider what this type of arrangement might look like.

Poll by Faux Snews boosts “Pick Hillary or else” argument

There has always been something silly about the frequent claim by Hillary supporters that “Obama will lose unless he chooses Hillary to be his Vice-Presidential nominee.” First, I’m hard pressed to cite any polls that show Obama losing to McCain, so how they claim he will lose without her is a stretch, but a new poll from Fox suggests adding Clinton may strengthen him.

Today, Fox news released a poll that shows Obama only up by one percent (41 to 40 percent) in a head to head match with McCain. However, if Hillary is paired with Obama and Mitt Romney with McCain, this poll suggests Obama-Hillary betweens McCain-Romney by nine percent (48 to 39 percent).

What is wrong with this poll? Perhaps plenty, where to begin? First, when voters of given the option of voting for Ralph Nader or others, Barack’s lead against McCain is three percent (40 percent for Barack, 37 percent for McCain, 2 percent for Nader and the remainder “Other”, “Don’t Know” or “Not Vote”). It seems odd that, excluding the others, especially Nader, raises McCain’s vote more than Barack’s. Also other polls with head-to-head match-ups between Barack and McCain show a wider gap. The most recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has Obama up by six percent, Gallup’s July 21-23 sample has Obama up by two and Rasmussen has Obama up by three. Given margins of error, these polls do not necessarily contradict the Fox poll but it does suggest the Fox poll may have over sampled McCain and Hillary supporters.

Also, the comparison with potential Vice-Presidential nominees is at odds with other polls that have suggested there is no benefit to adding Hillary. Even if one takes the Fox poll at face value, it only pairs Barack and Hillary against McCain and Romney. There is no mention of other prominent Democratic VP nominees, so we don’t know the relative benefits of adding Hillary.

However, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I can only assume the Fox poll is flawed not phony. So, let’s assume for the sake of argument adding Hillary strengthens Barack’s chances of winning at this time. Although press coverage of Hillary has declined since she “suspended” her campaign, negative press coverage of Hillary has ended completely. What is left has been quite favorable, praising her “tenacity”, noting her warm public embrace of Obama and so forth. Plus, not burdened with the tough decisions that the nomination and the Presidency carry, she has been free to take easy votes, such as her vote against telecom immunity. The day Obama chooses Hillary, her honeymoon ends, and all her baggage will be brought back before our eyes. Even if one assumes Obama gets favorable press and they might go easy on Hillary if she is Barack’s VP, the Republicans will certainly open the Clinton scandal box. Secondly, Hillary and Bill have never played second fiddle to anyone. Given Hillary’s sense of entitlement to the Presidency, how long until she reveals her anger that she has to run as back up to a man she deemed unqualified several months ago. Even if one assumes Hillary would run a disciplined campaign as the supportive Vice-Presidential nominee, how long until Bill wonders off the reservation with some remark that causes Obama embarrassment. What is more, what does would it say to the public if Obama chooses Hillary in light of the demands of her obnoxious supporters? You can bet plenty of media pundits claim he caved and displayed weakness, perhaps with justification. Above all else, a successful Presidential candidate can’t afford to be seen as weak. Rest assured, if Hillary looks like a plus to ticket, it is only in the moment.


tvanel said...

Phil, I have 52 million (or was it 55?) reasons why this empty threat will not got anywhere. HRC will not be #2, folks in her camp needs to get over it. What do u think of Kaine?

Philip Meyer said...

Tvanel, thanks for your post.

Given events of the past couple of days, I'm inclined to agree HRC's chances have really dropped.

Re: Tim Kaine

He wouldn't be a bad choice, but he lacks foreign policy experience that Obama probably needs. I kind of liked Webb, before he took his name out of the running. I like Biden too, but I could live with Kaine.