Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Will Barack surrender to the Clintons and make Hillary co-President?

As VP speculation reaches a fever pitch one dangerous name as resurfaced with a vengeance, none other than that of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Today new pro-Hillary speculation emerged even from unlikely sources. John Nichols was quite critical of Hillary during the primaries but now he suggests she is a strong candidate for Vice-President. In an article yesterday, he said “Obama needs a running-mate with foreign-policy "stature"” and the two he names are Joe Biden and Hillary. Biden is an obvious choice give his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hillary makes it because her “international credentials are actually a good deal more solid than even her advocates recognize” without mentioning what those supposed credentials are. He suggests it is all timing, an early (pre-convention) pick favors Biden, a later pick (presumably after the convention has started) favors Hillary. Ralph Nader also opined that Obama has to pick Clinton to unify the party.

Of course, people have been aggressively pushing Hillary as VP for months. First there are the disgruntled anti-Obama Clinton supporters have a demand “Pick Hillary or else line” as much in spite as anything else. Also, pro-Clinton hacks masquerading as objective media pundits continue to chant “Hillary for VP.” CNN’s David Gergen and Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis have continued to push the “Obama needs Hillary to win” line. There are huge flaws in this argument. First, the evidence to back up this claim all seems to be rooted in a Fox News poll in July showing Obama-Clinton enjoying a larger lead against a hypothetical McCain-Romney ticket than Obama enjoyed against McCain in a matchup of only Presidential candidates. If there is more recent polling data to support this assertion, they don’t mention it. What recent polling data does show is Obama enjoys a consistent if narrow lead over McCain. As of today, the polling data over at RealClearpolitics.com shows Barack over McCain from 1 to 5 points. No current poll shows McCain ahead. If Obama can win on his own, why does he need Hillary? It isn’t just an academic question because picking Hillary would come at a VERY high cost.

Obama has been exceptionally gracious to the Clintons, given the obnoxious behavior of Bill Clinton and Hillary’s supporters. While Hillary has been publicly supportive of Barack, she has done little to restrain her supporters’ overt hostility to him. The Clintons will already have very prominent speaking rolls on two nights of the four-day Democratic convention and Hillary may get a third when the roll call vote is held. What would it say if the Vice-Presidential candidate ends up with more speaking time than the Presidential candidate? By all accounts, Bill Clinton has refused to open the donor list to his Presidential library to Barack’s Vice-Presidential vetting team. To pick Hillary after that would make a mockery of the process. Hillary’s supporters have already said she should have clearly defined “responsibilities.” Since when does a Vice-Presidential aspirant make demands of the Presidential nominee in public? Finally, there is Hillary herself, who said the Vice-President “can’t be fired.” What should be clear is Hillary would not be Vice-President but a co-President or at least a greatly empowered Vice-President with an independent power base that gives her the ability to chart a course of her own. Let’s just hope Barack realizes this if he is seriously considering her as his “Vice”-Presidential nominee.

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