If Dream Ticket, What do we do with Bill?
by Strummerson, Fri May 23, 2008 at 08:18:09 AM EDT
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?