Monday, January 9, 2012

Another two voices for Hillary as Obama's running mate this year

By Bill Keller, New York Times, January 8, 2012
Hillary Clinton is 64 years old, with a Calvinist work ethic, the stamina of an Olympian, an E.Q. to match her I.Q., and the political instincts of a Clinton. She has an impressive empathic ability — invaluable in politics or statecraft — to imagine how the world looks to an ally or adversary. She listens, and she learns from her mistakes. She was a perfectly plausible president four years ago, and that was before she demonstrated her gifts as a diplomatic snake-charmer. (Never mind Pakistan and Libya, I’m talking about the Obama White House.) She is, says Gallup, the most admired woman in America for the 10th year in a row, laps ahead of, in order, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and Condoleezza Rice; her approval rating of 64 percent is the highest of any political figure in the country.
So it’s too early to hang up the big ambition. And a lot of us would be deeply disappointed in her if she did. This would be none of our business if she had taken the off-ramp after her time as first lady. (Nobody is thinking very hard about what’s next for Laura Bush.) But she moved on to the Senate, to a near-miss presidential campaign, and to a credible term as secretary of state. She raised our expectations.
The proposal to draft her in place of President Obama this year is preposterous. It exaggerates his vulnerability and discounts Hillary’s loyalty. But the idea that she should replace Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate in 2012 is something else. It has been kicking around on the blogs for more than a year without getting any traction, mainly because it has been authoritatively, emphatically dismissed by Hillary, Biden and Team Obama.
It’s time to take it seriously.
I know the arguments against this scenario, and we’ll get to those. But the arguments in favor are as simple as one-two-three. One: it does more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do. Two: it improves the chances that, come next January, he will not be a lame duck with a gridlocked Congress but a rejuvenated president with a mandate and a Congress that may be a little less forbidding. Three: it makes Hillary the party’s heir apparent in 2016. If she sits out politics for the next four years, other Democrats (yes, Governor Cuomo, we see your hand up) will fill the void.
She would bring to this year’s campaign a missing warmth and some of the voltage that has dissipated as Obama moved from campaigning to governing. What excites is not just the prospect of having a woman a heartbeat — and four years — away from the presidency, although she certainly embodies the aspirations of many women. It’s the possibility that the first woman at the top would have qualifications so manifest that her first-ness was a secondary consideration.
Regardless of the specific sequence of events that narrate the development, here is another voice calling for Hillary to be selected by Obama as his Vice President.
There is a scary prospect that Romney's trainload of cash, both public and accountable, and through the unaccountable PAC's, will do to Obama what they did to Gingrich in Iowa last week, that is bury him.
The economy, with uemployment running even at a stratospheric 8% is not low enough for Obama to be able to say, "I fixed the mess I inherited in 2008!" Oh, he will say it, but it won't ring as true as it would if that rate were running between 6% and 7%. There are still millions out of work out of hope and out of confidence in the president, given the elevated expectations he brought to the White House. The anger, disenchantment and frustration with the disaster of two wars, Wall Street debacle, the eunuch Congress, and prospects for job return running lower than a sunset already below the horizon will not play as favourable cards in the Obama campaign, never mind the strategists in his stable, and their considerable expertise.
Hillary, having completely put the bitterness of the 2008 campaign agaisnt Obama behind her, in her demonstrated and verified loyalty as Secretary of State, is clearly not about to leave the world stage, not with a bang and not with a whimper. She is, probably after a hiatus of rest, relaxation and writing, ready for prime time, and prime time, in the life of her country, the U.S. at this time, needs her face and then voice both to re-elect the Obama Democrats, and to finish the job they inherited in 2008.
While this scenario has been vehemently denied by the Obama's, the Clintons, and Biden, the current occupant of the VP's chair, and the White House does not deem the president to be sufficiently damaged to require Hillary on the ticket, there is no reason when Mr. Biden would not see the writing on the wall and exit gracefully, with the help of both the President and his prospective running mate, Hillary. Clearly, he has no intention, nor would the country accept it, of succeeding the President, given his years.
In this space, previously, when there was a vacancy on the Supreme Court, I urged the President to appoint Hillary Clinton to that august body, where she could exercise her considerable intellect on shaping the legal interpretations of the constitution and the recent laws passed by Congress, including the Health Care Reform Act.
However, depending on her inclinations in 2016, Ms Clinton could either choose to run for the White House from the VP's post, or perhaps then bring her heft to the top court.
"Charming the snake-pit of the current White House," to not mention the many and various world leaders in all corners of the world has been no slight accomplishment. As a reward, the President would be well advised to take the option of selecting Ms Clinton as his running mate, and the sooner the better.

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