The Veep

There are rumors that Obama’s veep pick could be announced this afternoon. If not today, then probably tomorrow.

I started to title this post “hope springs eternal,” because there is feverish anticipation that Hillary Clinton will be the veep candidate, even though I would have thought that notion had been put to rest weeks ago. An editorial in the New York Daily News says,

Barack Obama is on the verge of his first major choice as would-be President of the United States. As early as today, he will announce his running mate, with all signs indicating that he’ll bypass the class of the field:

Hillary Clinton.

If so, Obama will chalk up a huge missed opportunity to boost the Democratic Party’s chances of victory and to add a major asset to his White House in the event he is elected.

I still think Hillary Clinton would be one of the least helpful veep candidates on the “possible” list. As Alec MacGillis wrote,

Lost in this analysis, though, is a crucial fact: many of Clinton’s primary-season supporters are not necessarily loyal Democratic presidential election voters.

Indeed, many of the states and counties where Clinton racked up her biggest numbers in the primaries are places where voters remain Democrats in name only (think Kentucky). Such voters may have turned out to participate in an exciting 2008 Democratic primary, but they have not voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections, and can hardly be considered part of the Democratic base.

Take Beaver County in western Pennsylvania, where the New York Times today found strong resistance to Obama among Clinton supporters and Obama lost to Clinton by a whopping 40 percentage points during the primary. If Obama does not win all those voters back, he will hardly be the first: Democrats outnumber Republicans in the county 68,000 to 35,000, yet Kerry won the county by only 2.7 percentage points. And despite losing so many of the county’s Democrats to George W. Bush, Kerry nonetheless carried Pennsylvania.

She will bring over the die-hards among her supporters, but my guts tell me that putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket would cost Obama at least as many votes as he might gain. She might bring him Arkansas, although it’s been a long time since she’s lived there, and I wouldn’t count on it. He’s already got New York.

And as soon as she’s on the ticket, the entire election will be about the Clintons. That’s the last thing Obama needs, IMO.

There isn’t anyone I can’t think of who is without liability. I’m ambivalent about Joe Biden, but I prefer him to Bayh, Kaine, and Sibelius, who in total have less charisma than my gym socks. Wes Clark or Jim Webb would be exciting, if riskier, choices.

We’ll see.

4 thoughts on “The Veep

  1. I’m certainly not wild about the idea of Hillary Clinton on the ticket; she thoroughly pissed me off during the primaries. And though I’ve always regarding Bill as our best Republican president ever, his petulance in the post-primary period made me lost all residual respect for him.

    That said, I’m not sure I agree that Hillary can’t help Obama win and that if she can, it might be worth it to put her on the ticket. Sure, the cable news gasbags would be gaga over all the drama. But every moment they spend breathlessly analyzing Bill and Hill and Barack’s body language is a moment they can’t spend reminding us that John McCain is a marvelously mavericky war hero. It would completely suck all the oxygen away from McCain’s campaign — just as the Obama vs. Clinton primary did.

    You’re right to point out that Hillary may not help bring in states like KY. But she could help in places like FL (where I live) that are now leaning towards McCain. She might help swing Ohio to Obama as well, in which case he wins. I can’t think of a state in which she would be a dangerous drag on the ticket. Progressives like you and me won’t be thrilled, but we’re gonna vote for Obama anyway because unlike idiots like the PUMAs, we realize what’s at stake.

    The key would be in how the Clintons and Obama handle the situation. The Clintons may be egomaniacal, but they aren’t stupid. I think a VP spot for Hillary would ensure their wholehearted, enthusiastic support. And I think Obama is strong enough to handle them.

  2. I really believe that the majority of Hillary supporters, especially the mobbing zealots, in the primaries were voting for a woman – not a Democrat and not even Hillary as a person. Their intense and unreasonable anger at her defeat would seem to indicate that there was more going on with them than merely supporting Hillary.

  3. PleasenotBayh pleasenotBayh pleasenotBayh….

    See, you guys even have me doing it!

    If I could pick for Obama, it’d be Wes Clark.

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