Obama/Clinton Ticket = The Will Of The People
by Todd Beeton, Tue May 13, 2008 at 09:18:13 AM EDT
After a week of being inundated with Obama surrogates unhelpfully dismissing the notion that Barack Obama would deign to choose Hillary Clinton as his VP nominee, a majority of voters, including 3/4 of Clinton supporters, are signaling loud and clear that that's exactly what he should do.
In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 55% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents also would like Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to choose Clinton as his running mate, although there's notable resistance among his backers. [...]
Three of four Clinton supporters would like to see her on Obama's ticket. But 52% of Obama supporters would rather he "choose someone else."
In other words, the first unifying gesture for a man who's run on his ability to unify would be to choose the person who came in a close second for the ticket. It puzzles me to hear people automatically dismiss the idea of Clinton as VP. For one thing, as this poll proves, the pick it would assuage Clinton's extremely passionate army of supporters, who Obama is going to need in the general -- and I'm not just talking for votes. But in addition, a Clinton pick has the added benefit of shoring up Obama's demographic weaknesses (working class whites, latinos, women), his perceived deficiency in the resume department, which, quite frankly, I suspect would cause more people to defect to McCain than Obama's race would, and it would balance out his lofty post-partisan inspirer-in-chief persona with an in the trenches fighter, one who for once would beat the pants off the Republican VP nominee in a debate.
As for the cons, well, I do find the argument that it would be counter to Obama's message of a new kind of politics rather compelling, but the benefits that would accrue to the ticket overall would far outweigh any thematic incongruence. And as for the personality conflict argument or the "what would Obama do with Bill" argument, please, Obama says time and time again this campaign is not about him; surely his choice for VP should be about way more than who gets along with whom and Clinton on the ticket would be far more likely to enable the transformation Obama wants to achieve than hinder it.
I was glad to see Hardball's analysis of Obama's most likely VP picks omit Bill Richardson from contention. Not only is Richardson horribly gaffe-prone, but I just don't think a black/brown ticket is realistic.
As for another popular pick, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, I have to say I'm puzzled. I suppose her being a Democrat in a red state brings that thematic congruence to the ticket, but little else. Certainly her dud of a State of the Union response alone should disqualify her as not ready for prime time, but ultimately I agree with Dem strategist Steve McMahon who said on Hardball yesterday that national security experience is going to be much too important to Obama's choice of VP for Sebelius to be seriously considered.
It's no accident that the consensus pick as the "best" choice for Obama on Hardball yesterday was a Republican, Chuck Hagel, for his national security experience (read: gravitas) and the message it would send vis a vis Obama's post-partisan message of inclusion. Which is to say that the Democrats on the list all have something that makes them problematic. Is Hillary Clinton's so-called divisiveness so problematic that it should keep her off the ticket? Seems to me that not only does Hillary Clinton balance out Obama's weaknesses -- the true utility of a VP choice -- but when it comes to the Democratic base, she's far more of a unifying pick than a divisive one.