Since Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic nominee there has been unprecedented campaign to force him to choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate. I believe choosing Hillary would be big mistake especially in light of this effort to force his hand.
The Clintons have their good points. While I have problems with Bill’s ethics, I think his time as President was good for the United States and while I don’t think he deserves all (or even most of) the credit for the peace and prosperity that characterized the period from 1993 to 2000, he certainly deserves some. He made what I consider to be sound policy decisions. As for Hillary, I agree with her stated positions on many issues. However, none of this means she would be a good selection for Obama as his running mate. The reasons for not choosing her are clear.
Fundamentally, there are several factors for any nominee to consider when selecting a Vice-Presidential candidate. Obviously, the Presidential nominee would want to choose someone could assume the job of President but realistically, many potential Vice-Presidential nominees meet that criteria. The two more fundamental questions are 1) Does the Vice-Presidential pick increase the ticket’s chances of winning the general election and 2) Would that pick be a good fit in the future Administration?
As nears as I can tell Hillary is a wash on question 1. Several polls have shown Democrats favor putting Hillary on the ticket but most of them are likely to vote for the Democratic ticket anyway. More telling are polls of all voters and the most recent I could find suggested Obama-Clinton doesn’t poll much differently than Obama by himself.
On question 2, Hillary is complete flop. Vice-Presidents are supposed to be loyal to the President above all else and the Clintons have never played second fiddle to anyone, it is hard to imagine them starting now, especially to a man Hillary suggested was unprepared to be President. More than likely, the Clintons envision Hillary as Vice-President with greatly expanded powers and a portfolio for Bill as well; In effect, a tri-Presidency with Obama as the odd man out. That would be a disaster as this nation doesn’t need three chief executives.
Finally, there are the Clintons themselves. It might be tempting to take Hillary’s recent warm praise of Obama at face value but the problem is, how would one know? While even the most honest politicians fib a bit, Hillary and Bill have a record of mendacity that puts them pretty low in the trust scale. If someone isn’t accustomed the getting shot at, they tend to have a pretty good memory of when they did. It is hard to see Hillary’s repeated claim about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire as anything but a brazen lie. Also, because all politicians pander, pandering itself isn’t a disqualification but the shamelessness of the Hillary is amazing. There isn’t any serious Democratic policy analyst who favored cutting the gas tax and Hillary Clinton probably didn’t either. However, this spring she came out for a cut in the gas tax after having talked about the need for alternative energy and reduction in green house gases. Lower fossil fuel prices are the quickest way to make those goals harder to achieve. It would have been one thing if she called for a second stimulus package to, among other things, help mitigate the impact of higher gas prices. At least that could have been targeted to low income folks and because the recipients could spend the money on whatever they deemed necessary, the incentive to conserve would have remained. However, Hillary just couldn’t resist demanding a cut in the gas tax that would have benefited millionaire owners of Hummers, because she saw political gain. Not only was it dishonest given what she said she believed otherwise, it showed a lack of leadership and a lack of courage that Obama commendably showed on the issue.
Bill’s mendacity is well documented but perhaps he was being the honest one in this case, when he reportedly told someone Obama could kiss his behind if he expected support. All the more reason for Obama not to want a Clinton in his Administration.