Monday, July 21, 2008

Sorry Hillary, Vice-Presidential candidates don’t select themselves

For the last 50 years, the selection of the Vice-Presidential nominee in both parties has basically been the sole prerogative of the Presidential nominee. What is more, those who might have coveted the job were obliged by custom to at least feign indifference or perhaps outright non-interest.

The most recent exception was in 1956 when delegates at the Democratic convention actually chose the Vice-Presidential nominee, but only after Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson threw the selection process open to the delegates. Even in this instance the prerogative of the Presidential nominee was predominant.

Never ones to be bound by custom or taste, as Hillary’s prospects for winning the top spot on the ticket grew increasingly dim in May and June, the Clintons suddenly decided, “well, okay, we’ll take the Vice-Presidency.” It wasn’t that explicit of course. First there were Clinton surrogates suggesting a so-called “dream ticket” of Obama and Hillary, then it was revealed the Bill Clinton said Hillary had “earned” an offer of the Vice-Presidency (one wonders what Bill’s reaction would have been in 1992 if he was told Paul Tsongas or Bob Kerrey had earned the offer to be his running mate and he was obliged to make the offer?). Finally, it was reported that in conversations with supporters, Hillary did not reject the plans to mount efforts to “encourage” Obama to choose her.

The taboo of expressing uninvited interest in the Vice-Presidency has been broken before. 2008 also-ran former Senator Mike Gravel submitted his name for the Vice-Presidential nomination at the Democratic convention in 1972 but was soundly trounced by the Presidential nominee George McGovern’s pick Thomas Eagleton. What is unusual is the speed in which Hillary began a campaign to anoint herself Vice-Presidential nominee and intensity of her supporters’ tactics. Blogs have been set up to promote her candidacy, Hillary supporters are being encouraged to flood online polls, they are employing hot rhetoric to demand Obama choose her.

What Hillary and supporters don’t seem to understand is Vice-Presidential nominees are not self-selected. Even if selecting her was a good idea, and it isn’t, the tactics of her supporters look like an ultimatum to Obama. For him to agree would be a sign of weakness.

The results of the MSNBC “Veepstakes” are in

The efforts of Hillary supporters to stampede the online poll came up short, Senator Joe Biden was preferred selection by 55% to 45% for Hillary. If there was an organized effort for Joe, it wasn’t apparent. I guess it was a simple case of merit. I don’t know if Barack wants Biden or Biden really would accept, but as I said before, he’d be a FAR better choice than Hillary.

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