If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

One of the things frequently raised in discussions of a hypothetical "Dream Ticket," particularly by those who oppose it, is the question of Bill Clinton.  If Clinton pulls out the nomination, I would oppose Obama joining her, unless I was convinced that a victory in November hinged on it.  Obama as a VP would likely be 'contained' by turning him into a full time ribbon cutter.  The model of the actively involved VP (Cheney, Gore, Mondale) would almost assuredly be eschewed, in part because of Bill.  As such, it would be a colossal waste of Obama's talents, which as an Obama supporter I believe are significant.

If, as seems more likely at this point, Obama wins the nomination, I remain undecided about Clinton as a VP.  I don't think she is as likely to be 'contained,' and I think that a good thing.  My guess is that the success of this experiment, both for the general election campaign and the administration, would be a fairly clearly defined role for her in an administration.  If Obama demanded that in a Clinton administration, I think he would likely be humored.  I'm only going on a hunch here admittedly, but I think Obama would be more likely to deal with the potential conflicts with a VP HRC by employing her unmistakable talents in a way that would benefit all involved, and I hope this isn't a naive assumption.

But even if Obama wins and Clinton joins him on the ticket, for them to be an effective team it would be necessary to define a role for the ex-President.  This could be done informally by giving him particular projects to manage and employing him in frequent shuttle diplomacy escapades.  Perhaps by putting him in charge of the mess in Israel/Palestine and giving him the chance to try and finish something he was desperately committed to and at which I think he was largely stymied at by things beyond his control and the time limit of his presidency?  Or could it be something more formal?  Would his ego allow him to accept an official title 'beneath' President?  Would he take ambassador to the UN?  Would he take a cabinet level post?  John Quincy Adams served for years in the House of Representatives after his term as president, but that was a very long time ago and he was a very different person.  The question of Bill and whether it could be solved productively, not simply through attempts to neutralize him but by giving him a meaningful outlet, would be crucial to the success of the administration.  How would you solve it?

Tags: clinton, Dream Ticket, obama (all tags)

Comments

37 Comments

extortion

Hassan Namazee, he of the attempted $1,000,000 bribe to super delegates, says the following:

"There's a desire on the part of the party to come together under any circumstances, and Hillary and her supporters will do everything in their power to help Obama win, should he become the nominee, whether or not she's on the ticket," Nemazee said to me this morning.

"But there's a risk that if she isn't invited on the ticket, Hillary's political and financial supporters may not feel compelled to be as integrated and involved in the Obama campaign in order to provide the maximum support that he'll need to prevail in November."

Political extortion. I think its pretty obvious that the Clinton's will do anything to be back in the nerve center of power. God knows what kind of favors they owe moneymen like Hassan.  

by highgrade 2008-05-23 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: extortion

the good news for Obama in all of this is that those "lazy fraternity boyz" will all pony up $50-100 and his campaign afloat.  So long Hassan Nemadji or whatever your name is.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:24AM | 0 recs
Have you folk realize how ridiculous you sound?

sometimes..

Often.

The campaign isn't over till Denver. Why don't you honchos just sit tight until then?

Looking at the popular vote totals, Hillary is still very much in the running. You may not see it that way, but many people do.

by architek 2008-05-23 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Have you folk realize how ridiculous you sound

I agree I got ahead of myself.

Change "will" to "would" in my comment.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: extortion

This is this guy's opinion, not the Clintons. Please stop smearing them.

by VAAlex 2008-05-23 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: extortion

yeah, salami el nemadji isn't running for president.   one of the things i have always liked about obama is that his campaign seems less reliant on these shadowy folks.  i know, rezko, blah blah blah.  but he still has shattered records for raising $$ from small donors.  this is our chance to loosen the grips of people like this.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:30AM | 0 recs
Well, Hillary just mooted this whole discussion.

She has today clearly refused the nomination for VP:

During a meeting with the editorial board of the Argus Leader, Hillary appeared to accuse the Obama campaign of being behind the story CNN  aired today reporting that there are "talks" between the two campaigns about her getting out of the race and possibly becoming veep.

"That's flatly untrue -- flatly, completely untrue," Hillary said when asked about the story. The edit board meeting is being aired live, and is still underway.

"No discussions at all," Hillary continued. "It is not anything I'm entertaining. It is nothing I've planned. It is nothing I'm prepared to engage in."

It's over.  She has refused the job.  Obama can go about his business of picking a VP without bothering to ask Hillary whether she wants it or not.

by tbetz 2008-05-23 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Well, Hillary just mooted this whole discussio

Yeah.  I have NEVER heard of someone flatly rejecting the very idea of VP and ending up quite interested a few weeks a later.  She's denying talks.  Did she say: "I give my solemn pledge, I will not serve as Vice President under any circumstances"?  Even then, it could happen.  Her statement here is all about projecting the image of a confident combatant.  That's what she needs to do unless she's just angling to drop out.  She believes she can win (her prerogative) or she's actually involved in back channel stuff and this is part of keeping it back channel.  I'm not suggesting she's doing any particular one of these moves, but they all make sense for her.  Her statement leaves all these possibilities on the table.  Hence, I can't take her denial at face value.  And I've no particular investment in which it is, including the rejection you infer.

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 12:36PM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Hmmm...again, viewed through this hypothetical, I would think any of these Ambassador positions:  NATO, EU or UN.  

by mascho 2008-05-23 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Get him out of Washington, long term, for the bulk of the Administration's tenure.  I'm thinking some sort of UN super-duper post (human rights, AIDS, non-proliferation) that will keep him either in NY or out of the country for months at a time.

If I were Sen. Obama I would insist on this point...

by jarhead5536 2008-05-23 08:24AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?


Obama = Change

Clinton Do-over /= Change

Keep him the hell away from the levers of power.

by neonplaque 2008-05-23 08:25AM | 0 recs
Bill can't be contained.

He's like one of those rogue X-men. No matter what Professor X promised, you can't keep Magneto from making mischief.

He will go down as the single biggest reason (besides Hillary) for Clinton's defeat and ABC status when this is said and done.

by Firewall 2008-05-23 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Bill can't be contained.

Mojo for the unexpected X-Men reference.

by rfahey22 2008-05-23 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

It's a good question and you raise some good points.  I suppose it comes down to an Obama administration weighing the potential good that Bill Clinton can do, especially on an international stage, against whatever perceptions of Bill's activities as husband to the Veep as decentralizing the administration.  I can see Clinton having a role to play in Israel/Palestine, especially if his role is specifically and rigidly defined as  "special envoy of the President" to the region, a la Anthony Zinni.  But he would have to make common cause with the rest of the Obama administration on the goals of such an appointment; we can't have him negotiating terms that an Obama administration would reject, or have stories floating in the press about how his "influence in the administration" through Hillary and her "faction" conflicts with the wishes of "Obama and his loyalists."  Yuck.  But if done right, he could perform a wonderful strategic role in Middle East peace, both symbolically and pragmatically.  I also think he'd be plenty open to a UN Ambassadorship - he certainly appears to enjoy New York.  But this all must be done with velvet gloves; there can be no competing factions in the next Democratic Administration.

by robitude 2008-05-23 08:26AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Fair points.  I would very much hope that Bill Clinton would understand the importance to the mission of NOT destabilizing the administration he represents.   I think that giving the proper amount of authority would aid this.  Part of what led to his problematic behavior in the campaign was the lack of definition of roles.  This is ultimately HRC's fault.  But the other thing that I forgot to mention was that putting him in charge of this issue, of course under the Obama administration and devoted to its stability, would pair him with his old friend Blair.  This is something they would both want.  It would either be a disaster or a tremendous tandem.  One or the other, I think.

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

This is a difficult question and one that does not have a neat answer.  I hate thinking along these lines because there is an implicit sexism, I guess, in thinking that Hillary wouldn't be able to keep Bill in line.  That starts down a slippery slope of wondering who is really running for President in the first place.  Uh, let's not go there.

Hillary is a remarkable politcian and stateswoman.  If she remains in the Senate, she will have a great career and be viewed, I think, as totally independent of Bill and of Obama.  If she takes VP, I don't think that's the case.

Honestly, I'm surprised that she's trying so hard for VP.  Maybe these reports are somewhat exaggerated.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Actually, I disagree with the implicit sexism.  In fact, there is something problematic with the idea that she would be responsible for 'keeping him in line.'  I think it would hinge on how well Obama and his administration define his role and engage his talents.  I think not doing so would make it an issue of the Clinton marriage.  Is it the VP's job to keep a spouse in line?  I would rather not conceive marriage in general in those terms.  But I think it would ultimately be the hypothetical Pres. Obama's responsibility and challenge.  

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

This diary is full of suppositions which are completely unsubstantiated by any fact. Do you personally know how Bill Clinton would behave in an Obama administration should Hillary be VP? No. All you're doing is saying what you believe with a bias against them, so your conclusions are not really anything other than your biases showing.

I think Bill Clinton would 'behave' as he wants, as is his right to do. He would recognize that Obama is President and Hillary is Vice President, which would be facts. You're just sticking mud in his eye, for what reason, I have no idea.

by VAAlex 2008-05-23 08:29AM | 0 recs
Was seen/still is seen as a popular President...

WHY does that bother you Obama folk so much?

Thats one of the reasons you remind me of Republicans. Can't you acknowledge that Bill Clinton did a good job. For Chrissakes, just look at the HUGE Federal deficit we have now. Can you realize that just eight years ago, we had a budget SURPLUS?

Get a clue.. You folks need a reality check.

by architek 2008-05-23 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Was seen/still is seen as a popular President.

No, I think Bill Clinton was a great President.  Which is precisely why it would be difficult to have him back in the White House in some unofficial role.  He was a great President in part because of his boundless charisma and I'm sure having a gigantic ego helped.  So the question is a valid one.  Does having a personality like that help or hurt?  How can you use that talent for the best purpose?

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

But there is a danger of Bill upstaging either Hillary or Obama.  He's a former President who is extremely charismatic and is sought out by the media again and again.  That won't stop if Hillary was either President or Vice President.  It's a legitimate question.  The answer to that question may be that it isn't a big deal in the end, but I still think it's legitimate to ask the question.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

I don't think it's a legitimate question and it's frankly an insult to the intelligence of both Clintons and Obama. Were they all together -- I don't really think it's going to happen -- they would all know they have to work together to get something done. President Clinton is a smart enough man to know that he would be Vice President.

by VAAlex 2008-05-23 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

"President Clinton is a smart enough man to know that he would be Vice President."

I assume this was a mistake??

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Hahahahaa .... yes, a mistake! Freudian slip?

by VAAlex 2008-05-23 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

well, Bill Clinton is a very Freudian individual.

by the mollusk 2008-05-23 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

I guess that depends on what the definition of 'is' is, doesn't it?

by VAAlex 2008-05-23 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Not suppositions, hypotheticals based on perceptions.  I write that explicitly.  Can you point to any particular point where I imply something disrespectful.  Is it a smear to consider the complexity of an unprecedented situation involving three people with immense talents AND egos.  I am not sure that Obama's is any smaller than those of the other two, and this isn't necessarily a criticism.  My intention here was to raise this hypothetical and think it through as a thought experiment to conceive the best possible scenario for all involved, including us.  In part, it also seeks to answer those critics who argue against the possible merits of an Obama/Clinton ticket on the basis of an assumption that Bill will necessarily be distracting and destructive.  This something brought up quite frequently in the press.  I do not accept that contingency as necessary and would like to come up with others so we can more clearly debate the merits of such a ticket and administration, the success of which would depend upon all involved actively engaging defined roles and each other in the best possible ways.

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

I see Bill doing what has done for the last 8 years. Working for his charity, traveling the world drawing attention to and raising money some of the largest crisis's in the world. Why would you just assume that would change? I don't see him doing anything in the administration officially unless Obama request him to speak or raise money for some sort of international crisis just as he has graciously done under the Chimp in Chief who politically he dislikes.

by RedstateLib 2008-05-23 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

My issue with your argument is that presidential and vice-presidential spouses tend to keep their activities within the say-so of the administration.  I may be wrong, but have any recent "administration spouses" done all kinds of fundraising for causes not directly approved by the administration?  An Obama administration would, at the very least, have to coordinate with Bill about his activities, because the perception of there being a very public "backdoor channel" to the administration, through Bill continuing to "do his own thing," could be quite damaging.

by robitude 2008-05-23 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

Indeed, but this is an unprecedented situation that requires different consideration.

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 09:34AM | 0 recs
I agree 100%.

I find the perpetual connection of Hillary to Bill really over-the-top.

They are not "Billary".

I live in NY, Hillary's been my Senator since 2001. Bill Clinton has played NO ROLE in her Senate career. They are not connected at the hip.

Bill Clinton has carved out a post-Presidential career for himself which can continue with if Hillary were to be VP (or President for that matter).

Granted, it would be slightly more complex than that since he'd have a more official capacity again as a representative of the US. Does any Democrat in their right mind really believe he couldn't handle being husband to a VP? He'd be a tremendous asset in my opinion.

These politicians are not the distorted cartoon characters which the media presents through isolated soundbites and gotcha moments generated for our entertainment.

I have every faith that Obama, Michelle, Hillary and Bill would make an amazing team if that came to pass.

I also think it is up to Obama to make the ultimate decision.

by twinmom 2008-05-23 08:53AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree 100%.

I agree with all of this.  My purpose in writing this diary is to answer those who assume that things would be contentious, based on their perceptions of the campaign and Bill's presidency, to conceive whether and how this could be a strength with more detail.

by Strummerson 2008-05-23 09:35AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

This morning, I had the funniest thought about Bill and Hillary moving into the VP residence, and Bill (preferably caricatured by Darrell Hammond) calling Al Gore to say "Hey, guess where I'm calling you from!"

Unlikely, perhaps, but it struck me as funny.

Anyway, Bill will probably have a good deal of choice in what he pursues.  And I'm certain he'll be very useful in restoring our image in the world.

by freedom78 2008-05-23 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: If

kyrogenics

defrost him when its all over.

by citizendave 2008-05-23 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

I'm a Hillary supporter and have been since last Fall... I remain convinced that she is not only the better candidate but also the stronger one

Having said that-The Dems are going to have to go with Obama, win or lose in November--Very foolish to nominate HRC as our Pres nominee at this point.

Also--Very unwise to have HRC as VP for a host of reasons (incl the Bill factor).Obama (and particularly headstrong Michele) would do their utmost to resist SuperD suggestions that HRC be VP. Ain't gonna happen.Period.

by ionsys 2008-05-23 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

We will have just elected the first African American President and the first female Vice President and we're worrying about what an ex-President is going to be doing?  I don't think even Bill Clinton can upstage that combination.  It's going to be a great 16 years, just wait and see.  Obama/Clinton 2008 and Clinton 2016.

by Demo Dan in Dayton 2008-05-23 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?

I think your suggestions about both Clintons under Obama are right on.  And I think HRC and Bill would want to cooperate because she would want to run for President in 2016.  

As far as an HRC/Obama ticket, if it were actually feasible for HRC to still win the PD count, I would think this is a no-brainer win-win.  Obama gets executive experience to gear up for 2016.  His presence would be a great draw for her GE chances, and would also help many of the key senatorial races.

by sasatlanta 2008-05-23 11:30AM | 0 recs

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