Just over a month ago, a Democratic friend of mine gushed about a Clinton-Obama ticket. He thought the combination of the two rivals would heal the rift then developing in the Democratic Party, allowing for an easy victory in November. Bring together her experience* and his passion, the ticket would also generate a large turnout of women and African-Americans.
Well, events of the past week have all but foreclosed that possibility.
With Mrs. Clinton having found an effective means to attack her colleague from Illinois, she would undermine one of the key rationale for her candidacy if she tapped Obama as her running mate. In her 3 AM ad and her recent rhetoric, she distinguishes her “experience” from his own, playing the national security issue and suggesting he’s not ready to handle a sudden crisis.
Should she pick Obama, she would open herself to criticism that she’s picking someone she has claimed is not ready to lead to take the helm should something happen to her. Tapping him would show that she prefers political expediency to national security, further strengthening John McCain’s hand on national security, his strongest issue. Indeed, in that 3AM ad which many credit for helping her win Texas and Ohio yesterday, she asks, as blogger FullosseousFlap puts it, “an important question but channels a John McCain answer.” (Another blogger event re-cut the ad, removing the references to her and ending with John McCain.)
Interesting that she was able to defeat Obama yesterday on national security, an issue where she pales in comparison to the Republican nominee.
I wonder if Mrs. Clinton hesitated in ratcheting up its anti-Obama rhetoric and advertising until recently (when it was becoming clear that she could not waltz her way to the nomination) so that she could more easily tap him as her running mate, realizing how a Clinton-Obama ticket that could unite her party. (It was her husband who used to deliver the harshest attacks on her chief rival for the Democratic nomination.) Understanding that she would have to fight to win, she and her minions decided to throw the “kitchen sink” at Obama “to derail the momentum that had led to wins in 11 straight contests.”
The strategy worked, but makes it all but impossible for her should she win the Democratic nomination to pick Obama as her running mate lest she be placed on the defensive, fielding questions why she picked someone she (and her minions) savaged so fiercely. Questions which would further damage her credibility (already quite low) while strengthening the appeal of her Republican rival on the issue she used to great effect in the recent Democratic contests.
*And I wonder yet again how sleeping in the White House for eight years counts as experience
UPDATE: Seems the candidate himself is echoing the theme of this post, responding to Ms. Hillary’s suggestion she might tap him as his running mate:
â€œThey have been spending the last two or three weeksâ€ arguing that he is not ready to be commander in chief, Obama said.
â€œI don’t understand. If I am not ready, why do you think I would be such a great vice president?â€ Obama asked the crowd, which gave him a standing ovation during his defense. â€œI don’t understand.â€
UP-UPDATE: Even the New York Times seems to be echoing this post:
Presidential candidates invariably say that their first consideration in choosing a running-mate is finding someone who is ready to step in and be president. What would Mrs. Clinton say when asked why she was choosing, in Mr. Obama, someone whose readiness to defend the nation she has questioned? (Whose qualifications to be a commander in chief rested on the fact that he, as she put it, â€œgave a speech.â€)
Via Real Clear Politics.