The question at hand: What does Hillary Clinton want? Karen Tumulty writes in Time that Bill Clinton thinks his wife should be Vice President.
In Bill Clinton’s view, she has earned nothing short of an offer to be Obama’s running mate, according to some who are close to the former President. Bill “is pushing real hard for this to happen,” says a friend.
However, the Senator is harder to read, her friends say. And if she wants to be on the ticket, her recent behavior seems, um, counter-productive. Jaws are still dropped over her bizarre performance in Florida the other day, in which she compared the “disenfranchisement” of Florida and Michigan delegates — an act in which she was fully complicit until she realized she might lose the nomination — to the Florida recount disaster and historic civil rights milestones.
Josh Marshall has a post up that deserves reading all the way through, but I’m just going to quote the last line —
What she’s doing is not securing her the nomination. Rather, she’s gunning up a lot of her supporters to believe that the nomination was stolen from her — a belief many won’t soon abandon.
She’s like a cult leader who’d rather kill himself and his followers than allow the cult to be broken up. Note to Clintonistas — beware the Kool Aid.
This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It’s obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don’t want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton’s character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton’s gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.
If she’s consciously lying, it’s a shockingly cynical move. I don’t think she’s lying. I think she’s so convinced of her own morality and historical importance that she can whip herself into a moralistic fervor to support nearly any position that might benefit her, however crass and sleazy. It’s not just that she’s convinced herself it’s okay to try to steal the nomination, she has also appropriated the most sacred legacies of liberalism for her effort to do so. She is proving herself temperamentally unfit for the presidency.
I used to think that, although she was far from my first choice, she could do the job of POTUS competently. Now, I don’t think so. Bill Scher notes that “Everyone is focused on how to handle Clinton to avoid deep fissures in the party.” If she had her head screwed on straight she wouldn’t need to be “handled.” And who’s going to “handle” her if she’s POTUS?
Is she trying to blackmail the Obama campaign and the DNC into giving her the veep spot? If so, that’s just one more reason Obama should just say no. First, giving in would make him look weak. Second, having Billary with him on the campaign would seriously compromise his message of change. It would signal he’s going to be forced to compromise with Old Establishment Washington, after all. And the two of them would upstage him every time he turned around.
Here’s another question, asked by Marie Cocco in today’s Washington Post: If this woman, Hillary Clinton, is not an acceptable presidential candidate, then what woman would be acceptable?
Let’s think — how about one who doesn’t mismanage a campaign? One who doesn’t have to pad her resume? One who isn’t playing identity politics even as she complains about sexism? One who doesn’t have a long history of taking positions based on what she thinks is politically expedient rather than on what’s right? You may be able to think of some more attributes we’d like to not see in a future woman POTUS contender.
She doesn’t have to run for the Senate again for four more years, and maybe by then her public image will have been rehabilitated. But, frankly, I think she’s not only hurting the Democratic Party, she’s also hurting herself.
Update: See Jonathan Alter, “Popular Vote Poison: How Hillary’s latest math hurts the party.”