For months now there’s been talk amongst the left of Joe Biden picking Michelle Obama as his running mate. Just over a week ago, the Committee to Draft Michelle Obama filed papers with the Federal Election Committee, so some people are taking this concept quite seriously.
“The Committee to Draft Michelle Obama firmly believes that Ms. Obama will not only benefit the Democratic ticket this November but also help lead this country to be more just and caring,” the group said in a statement. “However strongly we support Ms. Obama as Vice President Biden’s running mate, we will transfer our resolve to whoever joins the ticket to defeat the most dangerous incumbent in the history of our nation.”
Michelle Obama’s most important contribution as First Lady was her widely-mocked school lunch program, which was ultimately rolled back by the Trump administration. Other than her excessively large support staff, what exactly did she accomplish as FLOTUS?
But seriously, yes, she’s popular amongst the left, but that’s also why the idea of Biden picking her is almost as stupid as the idea should Biden drop out so that Hillary will end up topping the ticket, and pick Barack Obama as her running mate.
For starters, there have been multiple reports that Michelle was not particularly fond of life in the White House, despite all the perks she took advantage of. In 2010, a book claimed that when asked by Carla Bruni, the then-first lady of France, what it was like in her position as first lady of the United States, Michelle told her “Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!” Michelle denied this, of course, but she’s fairly consistently expressed no interest in getting into politics, and unlike most things said by the Obamas, I actually believe it. Besides, there’s more money to be made in the private sector.
But, there’s another factor here. Even though no one actually believes that Joe Biden requested Barack Obama to not endorse him in the primaries, Biden claimed publicly he made the request because he wanted to earn the nomination on his own. As someone who was a nobody on the national level before Obama selected him as his running mate, he doesn’t want a running mate who will overshadow him, and Michelle Obama would quickly overshadow Biden by being on the ticket.
Biden does have a significant enthusiasm gap with President Trump, but he’ll probably narrow that gap slightly regardless of who he picks just because he’ll pick a woman, and perhaps a woman of color. Michelle Obama is more popular than Joe Biden, and one can imagine that her being on the ticket would get Democrats far more jazzed about voting for the senile old white guy the same way John McCain benefited a lot by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, who quickly became more popular than John McCain. But Palin was also a liability when the media presented her as being too inexperienced to handle the job of president (despite being more experienced than Barack Obama, who was running for president) and as the running mate of the aged McCain, she faced many questions about her competency.
Joe Biden faces questions about his advanced age and cognitive decline. Michelle Obama has never held any public office, and despite her popularity, she would have to face tough questions about her ability to step into the role of president should Joe Biden’s senility require the invocation of the 25th Amendment. How many people would feel comfortable with someone who has never held public office before suddenly being the most powerful person in the world?
And before anyone says “But President Trump never held public office before being president!” let’s not forget that Donald Trump avoided concerns like this because he managed a successful multi-national business. Michelle Obama launched a school lunch program that was a national joke.
The truth of the matter is that all the words written about Michelle Obama being a great pick for Joe Biden are really just admissions of Biden’s weakness as the party’s nominee. A running mate shouldn’t be needed to carry the water for the presidential candidate, and that’s exactly what Michelle Obama would be. The selection of a running mate is a complex decision weighing pros and cons and assessing what that person brings to the ticket. Michelle Obama brings nothing but star power, and Joe Biden doesn’t want a running mate whose star shines brighter than his own.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis