You’ve got a better chance of being Barack Obama’s running mate than Hillary Clinton has.
Why does the fantasy of a so-called “dream ticket” still persist at this late hour? Either the press is insulting our intelligence again, or it is has now taken to insulting Obama’s. He would have to be a fool and a masochist to make a deal with the woman who would have stopped at nothing to prevent him from enjoying the victory he now should be savoring but can’t because she’s preventing him from doing that, too.
On a day that saw the first African-American candidate for president clinch a major party nomination, all anyone could talk about was the chutzpah of his erstwhile rival. In the face of actual defeat, Clinton promised to stick around until she could “catch her breath,” which really meant catching all the good headlines. “She’s Still Here” ran the title of Maureen Dowd’s well-cited New York Times column (prompting many of us to realize for the first time in a while that Maureen Dowd was still here, too).
Michael Tomasky used his perch at The Guardian to complain that Clinton’s selfishness kept him from using it to congratulate Obama instead. And nearly every item featured Tuesday on Memeorandum, the political blog roundup website, had something to say about Clinton’s next move, or the actual nominee’s first challenge-namely, how to gently coax that rampaging Gorgon into submission.
She has now selected Saturday as the date to “suspend” her campaign, endorse her opponent, but not concede her pledged delegates and superdelegates to the man who would be president. They might still come in handy to negotiate a cancelled $20 million campaign debt, a cabinet position, or the vice presidency. Or some radioactive material might ooze out between now and the Denver convention, making Obama unable to fulfill his electoral duty, in which case the Party would rally around Clinton with whippet speed and be greeted with the gloat of “I told you so.” Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?
Dick Morris, who knows the Clinton clan better than most, explained the starkest problem with the veep idyll: “Even if a President Obama can discipline Hillary and get her to play second fiddle, there is not the remotest chance that he can get the former president to accept such rules.” A nation that groaned to consider the prospect of a co-presidency is not ready for a threesome. Only Neil LaBute could script the twisted table talk of a Camp David retreat featuring Barack, Michelle, Hillary and Bill. (The male Clinton just won’t go away either. His extracurricular love life and association with the meretricious financier Ron Burkle was catalogued by Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair in roughly the same news cycle that Obama’s former heavyweight fundraiser Antoin Rezko was convicted in Chicago of 16 out of 24 counts of corruption.)
Another problem with putting two alpha candidates together is that Obama would find himself hostage to Clinton’s loyal supporters, many of whom have seriously threatened to vote for John McCain. Clinton might use this hinge group to bait Obama into ceding certain executive responsibilities to her, making her as conspicuous in the role of vice president as Dick Cheney was not but – cover your ears, darlings – possibly even more powerful.
And this is all to assume Obama wins in November. Apart from a stolen limelight and a neutered presidency is the more immediate danger he’ll face against the inevitable Republican response to a joint ticket. Given the agonized length of this year’s primary, and the damage it caused the Democratic establishment, voters will not have forgotten by late Fall just how much Clinton and Obama loathe each other and how mercenary their teaming up would therefore appear.
The right, as many have already pointed out, will revel in syndicating all of Hillary’s old tricks against Obama, and his meek defenses and counterattacks. And it will not allow her good deed of buffeting Barack all these months go unpunished; newfound chums Richard Mellon Scaife and Rush Limbaugh will surely replay her many lies and snafus going back decades, if only out of a sense of nostalgia.
Inviting this family back into the White House would be more along the lines of plus ça change you can believe in.