Thursday, July 17, 2008

Together Again for the First Time

Barack Obama is coming off a near record month in fund raising and he is currently holding a 4 point lead in the RCP average of polls, however his standing heading into the convention next month will depend a lot on his choice of Vice President. There have been many candidates discussed since Obama clinched the nomination at the end of the primary season. There are candidates who are favored because of state considerations (Even Bayh of Indidana, Senators and the Governor of Virginia, Ted Strickland of Ohio), experience (Sam Nunn of Georgia, Joe Biden of Delaware), party balance (Chuck Hagel - Republican from Nebraska ), gender balance (Kathleen Sebelius, Janet Napolitano), and even though they all have their pluses, I have come to the conclusion that the only logical choice, is the most obvious one, Hillary Clinton.

I know that there are Obama supporters who will scream bloody murder if she is added to the ticket and there are those that will claim that she will do more harm than good, but as time goes on, it becomes clearer to me that she is the best choice. Her most often quoted negative is that having her on the ticket will energize the Republican base. Her biggest negative as Vice President would be her husband Bill Clinton running around the White House with nothing to do. These are valid points, but I don't think that they outweigh the positives that she can bring to the ticket. She has a very loyal base of support, and while they do not number the 18 million that some of her supporters like to claim, they are very vocal and would add a great deal of enthusiasm and money to the Obama campaign. Since Obama has turned down public financing, he needs all the money that he can get to compete against the Republican attack machine which will undoubtedly get rolling soon.

Bill Clinton can also be a great asset in the White House. I think a bored Bill Clinton might be some trouble, but as a former President and still a greatly admired figure all over the world, he would be able to play a much larger and more important role than any second spouse has ever done before. He could become a sort of roving ambassador for an Obama administration. Also having the full support and cooperation of the Clinton's over what will certainly be a very combative fall campaign is invaluable. Hillary can spend the campaign talking to those "white working class" voters that she claims have trouble supporting Obama and Bill can "feel the pain" of every working class family in the country.

There are Hillary Clinton supporters who will still not be happy with her in the second slot on the ticket, but the vast majority of her support will be more willing to join her for the ride. I have already stated here that I don't think that Obama can win the election in November (and I'm sticking to that thought), but outside of picking a Republican or an independent to run with him, Hillary is the choice that will make the greatest impact on fund raising and in his poll numbers. At this point, I think the only thing that is really stopping him from making her his running mate, is his pride. At the end of the primaries, Hillary's supporters were openly campaigning for the VP slot. Obama could not have chosen her then because he would have been seen as bowing to pressure. Enough time has gone by, however, that I believe that he should now be able to see things a little more clearly.

My personal choice for VP would be Joe Biden, because of his experience and his willingness to mix it up with the opposition over controversial topics. I think he would make a great second in command and would bring a level of competency and integrity to the position that clearly is lacking in the person who currently occupies the position. That being said, I don't think picking the "best qualified person" for the job is what is required here. Obama needs a bold stroke. Earlier in the season, I suggested picking Chuck Hagel would make an appropriate choice for someone who had made his campaign about more than partisan politics. But the reality of the situation is that Chuck Hagel, while he has been steadfast in his opposition to the war, has a very conservative voting record in the Senate. I don't think that he would be able to honestly support the progressive policies of an Obama administration.

So I'm back where I started. Picking Hillary Clinton would be a bold and historic choice (I know it didn't work out too well the last time the Democrats picked a woman, but even her most vocal of critics would have to concede that Hillary is a much better choice than Geraldine Ferraro was). Will picking Hillary Clinton cause some headaches for Obama? Without a doubt, but I think the upside is far greater than the potential pitfalls. And of course the final point, if Obama is going to go down in what should be an easy win for any Democrat, then he might as well take the Clintons down with him. I'm sure he doesn't want to take the blame alone for screwing the unscrewable pooch.

1 comment:

Sandy Jimenez said...

I also like Dick Gephardt or Dodd for VP. I almost said Bill Richardson... HA HA. Yeah that's a laugh, a Black/Hispanic ticket. -Whew- I'm such a comedian... now that I'm done laughing at myself, seriously speaking, whoever it is has to be able to get real mean. Like "Al Haig/Dick Nixon mean" Hillary can do that, Hill can attack very effectively, strong debate partner.
The only way this African American candidate will beat this very, very old, likely-to-die-in-office Republican, is by attacking his perceived strengths: Barack Obama has to expose this "strong military background" sham for what it is.
"Attacking the positives" is Karl Rove's great contribution to political contest in America: attack your opponent's strengths, or at least turn them into a matter of partisian opinion: "Swift Boat Veterans for truth against John McCain"... -shit it even sounds real.
-SJ