Senate Majority Leader?
by Nathan Empsall, Sun Mar 16, 2008 at 02:04:11 PM EDT
Furthering rumors of an attempted back-room negotiation for the nomination, Adam Nagourney writes in today's New York Times,
The delegates said they hoped to avoid being portrayed as party elites overturning the will of Democratic voters. They spoke of having some power broker -- the names mentioned included Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee; former Vice President Al Gore; and Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- step in to forge a deal.
Yet even as some of them pleaded for intervention, they said they were not sure what could be done in a race with two candidates who have so much support.
"I think it has got to be brokered before the convention," said Bill George, the head of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. in Pennsylvania. "I think there should be a couple of people -- maybe Howard Dean and Al Gore, they have some credibility -- to do it. Dean should call a meeting, and the two camps should be forced to do it.
Might I propose my own backroom deal? The Hillary Clinton supporters here may not like it, but here goes nothing: Clinton for Senate Majority Leader.
It's hard to argue with the suggestion that Clinton is one of the most polarizing figures in recent American political history. This would make FDR-style consensus governing a tricky task for her as President, but would be irrelevant as Senate Majority Leader. Her record as a Senator certainly suggests she would excel in the position. She has done an excellent job of reaching across the aisle to get things done, wooed over thousands of hostile upstate voters (including members of my own family), and learned the ropes from former Majority Leader and anti-war Dem Robert Byrd. Way back in November 2006, Joshua Green wrote in the Atlantic Monthly,
There remains another option--one to which she is unquestionably well suited. As an admiring senator put it to me, "Hillary Clinton is everyone's secret choice for majority leader." It's a line you hear often on Capitol Hill, and it has two possible meanings. For some it's polite code for "Lord, I hope she doesn't run for president." But for others--I'd venture to say the majority--it is a compliment genuinely felt, an acknowledgment that she has satisfied the lions of the Senate and, should she wish to, might one day rank among them.
It's certainly not too early in Clinton's Senate career for the job - she's had just as much time in the chamber as one Lyndon Baines Johnson had when he took the position. But Reid, what has Reid done? Why, virtually nothing, unless you count caving to Bush on telecom immunity as an accomplishment. If I recall correctly, his approval rating in most unscientific Netroots polls is lower than Pelosi's. You may have noticed Nagourney didn't think to include him in the list of potential powerbrokers, perhaps for a lack of credibility. I've always like the boxer from Searchlight, but it would seem that Majority Leader is just not the right spot for him. My own choice for the job would be Chris Dodd or Byron Dorgan, but neither of them is central to party unity. If Reid would be gracious enough to voluntarily step aside for Clinton, he would restore his status as a party elder and perhaps virtually guarantee himself a spot in a Barack Obama administration.
Gore, Dean, and Reid, perhaps joined by Biden and Richardson, might be able to work out such a deal. The roommates Durbin and Schumer, as members of the leadership team and surrogates for opposite campaigns, could facilitate. Given her position, credibility, and even gender, I would add Pelosi to the list, but I accept the fact that she is clearly a closet Obama supporter, and as Jerome said this morning, that does color her role.
Of course, as a vocal Obama supporter, my own "role" is colored as well. I accept that. But please take me seriously when I say I am more interested in avoiding a convention fight than I am in pushing my own candidate, and that this honestly strikes me as the fairest deal I've yet seen for either candidate. Read through the diaries and comments I've made about Obama, Clinton, partisan infighting, and candidate diaries if you don't believe me - my feelings for both campaigns have always been somewhat tepid. Remember that Biden and Dodd were my first and second choices, and I didn't select Obama until the week I voted. I hope that this will dispel any notion of a hidden agenda.
Update 11:54 PM: I want to make it clear, I don't think this proposal should be implemented today. I don't foresee Pennsylvania and the other remaining states breaking the current bitter stalemate, but obviously we should give them a shot. Once all the voters have been given their say, and MI and FL have revoted, THEN the party leaders should step in, assuming the stalemate still exists.
Update 12:12 AM: I should also clear up, by consensus, I mean with the American people, not with Republicans in Congress. Bipartisanship is important, but it's not the same thing as leadership. Hence the phrase "FDR-style."