Friday, June 6, 2008

Hillary's Last Swing

Barack Obama's historical achievement was no doubt the biggest news story of the week. However Hillary Clinton did not fade away into the night as many had hoped. Instead she took one final swing at Obama and it seems to have connected. This is her way of showing that she is a force to reckon with and her core base won't just roll over and support Obama. Her surrogates aren't even being subtle in pushing for her to be on the ticket.

The Clinton supporters have alleged everything from media bias to sexism to reverse racism in explaining her defeat. They are mad at the media, the DNC and especially Obama. Many have even threatened to support McCain. Hillary secretly enjoys this but has to come across as a uniter ready to do anything to make sure Democrats win in November. Her base, especially
low income whites and women are wary of Obama and will need convincing if Obama wants their vote.

So what does Clinton do? She all but says that she wants to be on the ticket. The VP buzz is almost as big a story as Obama's nomination. This puts Obama in an awkward situation similar to when she offered him to be her VP earlier this year. The difference is that this time he
has to decide. This is for real and Obama cannot get away by ignoring the question or laughing it off. Hillary's logic is simple: put me on and you get my supporters, say no to me and you disappoint them once again. If Obama does say no to her, he again prevents a woman from getting where no woman has before (if their ticket wins). This will push her supporters off the edge and Obama will never bring them back before November.

Obama supporters secretly wish that the rumors about Clinton wanting a graceful exit are true. (She wants him to offer the VP spot so she can deny it and appear graceful). Somehow, knowing the Clinton's lust for power, I doubt that is the case.
To be fair, Clinton is a brand name and gives the illusion of being experienced compared to the other names being floated around (Jim Webb, Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Warner). The only real competitor of Hillary seems to be Bill Richardson. Richardson isn't exactly a name brand but he is at least recognized outside his home state unlike the others mentioned above.
(Read 'Clinton's VP smokescreen' to see why Obama can't have her on the ticket.)

Why Republicans want the ticket
Republicans have always wanted to go against Clinton and this would give them the opportunity to do so. Obama will probably be overshadowed by the relentless attacks on the Clintons. Everything the Republicans need to attack Hillary and by extention Obama is in the Vanity Fair article by Todd Purdum. The article coupled with the suggestion put forth by Mitt Romney ('Do you want Bill running around the White House with nothing to do?') is enough material to last ages. Innuendo alone will be enough to turn people off this 'dream ticket'. Imagine an inexperienced, deep over his head, President Obama, a hostile, overly ambitious Vice President Hillary and playboy Bill with nothing to do sharing the same White House. Republicans can't have it better if they scripted it.

If Obama does pick Clinton he will show his naivety, inexperience and a vulnerability to be manipulated. Picture the same Obama in the White house being manipulated by hawkish generals or ultra liberal advisers. Imagine his meetings Ahmadinejad or some other despot he has promised to meet. They will instantly see right through him and we will have a Cuban missile crisis redux except this time the missiles might just be launched.

Obama probably realizes the perils of putting Clinton on the ticket but he feels he can pull it off. Odds are that Obama will pick Clinton because of over confidence and narcissism that have characterized his candidacy. Obama probably thinks he can dictate Clinton's role in the White House and in return he gets her voters and donors. He figures that the Clintons will not dare undercut the darling of the Democrats and the media without repercussions. We all know how that is going to turn out.
This is going to be beautiful.