Does Obama Really Need a VP?

This piece, admittedly by a right-winger, claims Barack Obama is toying with the media and clearly intends to choose Hillary Rodham Clinton as his VP.

I don’t think so. She’s obviously his best choice from one standpoint — her electoral prowess — and the worst from many others.  After all, she declared John McCain was a more plausible president than Obama. That and many other quotes denigrating Obama’s experience will already be used against him, but coming from the mouth of his VP candidate? Deadly.  What many of us suspect about Obama, that he’s not quite ready for the job of president, she has said explicitly.  So has her husband.

But I cite the post mainly because it illustrates how much of a pickle Obama is in with respect to choosing his VP nominee.  Nobody helps him. Everybody hurts him.  He’d be better off running alone.  To quote from the blogger, Patrick Ruffini:

Just look at the other names on the short list:

  • Joe Biden‘s mouth is a constant source of embarassment. And how would the PUMAs take to a failed second-tier candidate leapfrogging someone with 18 million votes?
  • Evan Bayh has been vetoed by the netroots
  • Kathleen Sebelius would be a clear and direct affront to the PUMAs, much more so even than Biden. The first woman VP/President — and one you’ve never heard of — would increase the sense of Clintonian alienation.
  • Tim Kaine. Hahahahahahahahahaha
  • Wesley Clark would provide the military experience Obama needs, but his comments about McCain’s service are a problem.
  • Chris Dodd is a crook.

What if he didn’t pick anyone?  If he’s elected and then dies in office, the Speaker of the House, presumably Nancy Pelosi, would be perfectly acceptable to Democrats.  Even the PUMAs (which used to mean Party Unity My Ass, and now means People United Means Action) would probably grant Pelosi is acceptable.

Is there a constitutional problem with leaving the VP slot vacant?  Undoubtedly.  So what if Obama picked a literal nonentity. Say, the winner of a lottery, or perhaps a special political edition of Jeopardy! The winner would have to swear that in the event of Obama’s demise, he or she would immediately resign, stepping aside for the Speaker.

Of course, Obama could short-circuit all this and just nominate Pelosi for the vice-presidency.  Her political style is more suited to a VP campaign.  She’s a shin-kicking ear-biter, and she’s obviously totally unimpressed by the McCain mystique.

But since what I’m proposing is probably too absurd, my guess is Obama will pick Joe Biden.  He’s much more than a “failed second-tier candidate.” He’s a sherpa for an inexperienced president. He’s instantly credible in all the ways Obama is not yet.  Evan Bayh has the next-best chance, but Obama would have to stand up to a lot of criticism from the left netroots, where he’s described with language such as “fucking worthless to the progressive cause.” Not a lot of wiggle room there.  After watching Gov. Kaine on Charlie Rose a few weeks ago, I was nonplussed as to how he ever got on the short list.  If he’s a rising star, it’s going to be a slow rise. It would almost be unfair to subject him to national attention at this point in his career.

The blood is thinning in the political ranks of both parties.  The VP sweepstakes illustrate that perfectly.

Gore Back At Number One Observatory Circle?

Fate

Fate

Somehow, this story reminds me of “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”

I mean, if Obama/Gore battles it out with McCain/? to a near draw and it comes down to…oh…Tennessee?  And he loses again?  I wonder if that’s crossing his mind.

Or maybe it goes the other way.  Maybe he was fated to be President.  Could the possibility tempt him?

For most observers, the idea of Gore as Obama’s VP would mean he’s in charge of the climate.

Yes, at first blush another Vice Presidency would be beneath Gore. But Obama has no huge emotional investment in either energy/environment/climate change or science & technology, and Gore cares about them passionately. Obama could give him primary authority in those areas without having a full “co-Presidency.” It’s hard to see how Gore does more for what he cares about from the outside.

But Gore might see it as a route back to winning what he thought he already won.

I wonder if Gore’s 10-year challenge to sever electricity from fossil fuels will help or hurt him?  Suddenly, the Republicans have an incentive to run the numbers on his idea.  It won’t be hard to make it look very expensive.  And what if Obama/Gore wins, serves eight years, and the US is falling short (as it surely will, since Gore’s goal is impossible)?

The Murderous Mrs. C.

Hillary with an evil lookPeggy Noonan is ecstatic that the Democrats nominated Barack Obama, and at least half the reason why is that they didn’t nominate Hillary Clinton:

Mrs. Clinton would have been a disaster as president. Mr. Obama may prove a disaster, and John McCain may, but she would be. Mr. Obama may lie, and Mr. McCain may lie, but she would lie. And she would have brought the whole rattling caravan of Clintonism with her—the scandal-making that is compulsive, the drama that is unending, the sheer, daily madness that is her, and him.

We have been spared this. Those who did it deserve to be thanked. May I rise in a toast to the Democratic Party.

They had a great and roaring fight, a state-by-state struggle unprecedented in the history of presidential primaries. They created the truly national primary. They brought 36 million people to the polls, including the young, minorities and first-time voters. They brought a kind of dogged brio to the year.

All of this is impressive, but more than that, they threw off Clintonism. They threw off the idea that corruption is part of the game, an acceptable fact. They threw off the idea that dynasticism was an unstoppable dynamic in modern politics, that Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton could, would, go on forever. They said: “No, that is not the way we do it.”

They threw off the idea of inevitability. Mrs. Clinton didn’t lose because she had no money or organization, she didn’t lose because she had no fame or name, she didn’t lose because her policies were unusual or dramatically unpopular within her party. She lost because enough Democrats looked at her and thought: I don’t like that, I don’t like the way she does it, I’m not going there. Most candidates lose over things, not over their essential nature. But that is what happened here. For all her accomplishments and success, it was her sketchy character that in the end did her in.

So then the question comes up:  Given the closeness of the contest, should Hillary be Obama’s VP pick?  (No, say I.)  No, says Peggy Noonan.  Here is one of her reasons:

She would never be content to be vice president. She’d be plotting against him from day one. She’d put poison in his tea.

Trust me, in the succeeding paragraphs, there is no rim-shot-bada-bing to indicate Noonan is kidding.  She would expect Hillary to poison Obama, if it meant she would be in the Oval Office. 

Noonan’s column is not the first place I’ve seen this “Hillary would poison Obama” meme.  I wish I’d been saving all the links.  They mostly appear in comment threads, or if it’s the main blogger, they usually try to let you know they’re joking. 

Keep an eye out for it.

When her husband was president, the Clintons were accused in some right wing rubber rooms of having people murdered.  I don’t remember the details, but there was supposed to be a list of premature deaths, and somehow it was tied in with cocaine shipments into the Mena Airport in Arkansas.  They were also accused of using very rough tactics to silence “bimbo eruptions.”  Kathleen Willey’s dead cat, for example.

The mainstream media thought these accusations were hideous, hysterical, evidence of a vast right-wing conspiracy led by crazy people who would say anything.

Now, the suggestion that Hillary would use the Office of the Vice President to carry out a murder plot against the president has become a normal part of political discourse, across the ideological spectrum.

You know, she almost won the nomination, folks.  If the Democratic Party had used Republican primary rules, she would have won. Would these same commentators be suggesting the Democratic Party had nominated a murderer if she was the presidential candidate?  Would they be worrying about John McCain’s water glass at the presidential debates the way they’re worrying about Barack Obama’s tea?