Thursday, June 5, 2008

The VP Limbo

Limbo kitteh from I Can Has Cheezburger?

We're sitting here in limbo ... waiting for Hillary Clinton's official concession. It had better be a real one and not just a deferral until the convention. I want to know what Hillary Clinton will do next: with her delegates, her candidacy, her talents, her life. As she herself asked in her non-concession speech Tuesday: "What does Hillary want? What does she want?" ROTUS has an inkling of the worst-case answer:
According to the Baltimore Sun, she is planning to “end her campaign and endorse Barack Obama” on Saturday. Clinton has no plans to concede and release her delegates, though. In August there will be floor demonstrations, drama and more food fights at the Democratic National Convention.
But what worries me more than the tornadic threat of disrupting the convention is the more immediate risk that Obama might offer Clinton the VP slot on the ticket to restore internal party peace. She's signaled she wants it. I can see why a dramatic olive branch might appeal to Obama's conciliatory side. What's more, as long as Clinton controls nearly half the delegates and holds sway with millions of disgruntled voters, she can create heaps of mischief if she's not appeased. It's not quite blackmail ... well, wait, exactly how is it not?

Bob Cesca predicts the trouble ahead if Obama passes over Clinton as his VP nominee:
What happens if she isn't offered the vice presidential slot? Will she continue to stomp her feet and draw attention away from the nominee? Yes she will. Will she carry her campaign (in name and support only) to the convention? Yes she will. Will she continue to distract attention away from challenging Senator McCain's awfulness? Yes she will. So should she be offered the vice presidential slot, then? No she shouldn't.
Yes, giving Clinton the VP nod would paste TP over their differences. The two candidates are often indistinguishable anyway in the policy realm, apart from that niggling little problem of war and peace. Their differences are mostly the product of the bitter primary campaign.

But the bitterness of the campaign still matters, and as I've argued before, Clinton has catered to our worst angels too often. She's the one who went on Meet the Press to tell Tim Russert that Obama was not a Muslim, "as far as I know." She's the one who brought us the 3 a.m. scare ad. She's the one who claimed that she could connect with white, working-class voters, implying 1) that Obama can't, and 2) that all such voters are presumptively racist. Too often, her surrogates who played the race card. She failed to disavow Rush Limbaugh's interference in the campaign on her behalf. She made a big deal out of the non-issue of Obama's title as a professor at the University of Chicaco. Sure, some of these tactics may have come from her henchmen, er, advisers. But she picked those guys. She chose to listen to their gutter-dwelling counsel.

Senator Clinton has run a campaign based on fear, not hope. How could she leave that behind during the general election? How could she subordinate herself to Obama's message of hope and empathy? How could she govern in ways substantially different from the last eight years of fearmongering?

Putting her on the ticket would set us up for untold turmoil as we head toward the general election for one other reason, too: because the Clintons are, well, the Clintons. ROTUS nails this, again:
Can you imagine a triumvarate of Barack, Hill and Bill squabbling over how to govern this country? Or trying to campaign together? It gives me nightmares.
Yikes! Who would be in charge in that unholy ménage a trois? Cesca connects the dots:
Because a would-be Obama-Clinton campaign would end up being entirely about the Clintons. What they said; what they're doing; who's in control; do they get along; is she undermining him from within. Me, me, me. And besides, if she really wanted to be on the ticket, she wouldn't have engaged in this infuriating slash-burn-point-clap strategy in the first place -- a strategy which, by the way, continued through last night's [Tuesday's] speech.
I'm a little weary of Bill Clinton, anyway. He bounded around the country like a big, untrained puppy, with none of his vaunted political self-discipline in evidence. He didn't help his own wife; so why do we think he could play third fiddle in support of Obama? I'm now picturing him at campaign events, earnestly explaining that as our first black president, he paved the way for Obama's candidacy.

So as much as I'd love to see Obama pick a woman, and as seductive as an Obama-Cinton ticket appeared to me back in February, that moment has been washed away by all the blood and bile of Clinton's negative campaigning. (Well, it's only negative if you're not a McCain fan, I suppose.) Odds may be against Clinton here, anyway; Jane Hamsher reports that "by all accounts Obama would rather lose a limb" than nominate Clinton. Let's hope he's not afraid of a little phantom pain.

Now, here's my alternative scheme. How 'bout promising to appoint Clinton to the Supreme Court? She'd have serious power - for life. As an accomplished attorney, she'd be well qualified. Her rulings would be as progressive as possible, within the constraints of the law. And a SCOTUS job would keep both her and her undisciplined hubby out of the executive branch altogether. And out of the campaign. It'd be a total win-win.


Rence said...

Just a bit of reading on the topic.

I don't think she'd be the best SC Justice, and she certainly does have other options. She's still got a bit to go in the Senate, and I think she could really do some great work there. She's a good Senator and an asset to the party there.

Sungold said...

Thanks for the link, Rence. You've convinced me that HRC should go back to the Senate. I'm still shuddering at the thought of the confirmation battle she'd face there, if she were nominated for the Supreme Court.