Hillary’s veep moment - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Hillary’s veep moment

James Carville says President Obama won’t dump Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton on his re-election ticket: That proves he knows that’s exactly what the president is going to do.

Carville is a life-long, blood-loyalist of the Clinton Clan: He knows that the last thing Secretary of State Clinton needs is the slightest hint that she’s angling to get the sitting vice president dropped to make way for her in November. But that’s what she wants all right. And now Obama wants it, too.

In the early days of the administration, a neophyte foreign policy president listened to hard-charging Hillary overcautious ol’ Joe in his bell-weather decision to go double rather than quits in Afghanistan. I believe that was the wrong decision, as it happens. But it certainly proved Obama’s mettle with the public and gave the president a Teflon shield with Republican-conservative critics who thought they could ice him as a liberal wimp. This confirmed Hillary’s political judgment over Joe’s in the president’s eyes, and she has kept that regard ever since.

Hillary also backed the president without hesitation in ordering the SEAL team in to kill Osama bin Laden and bring some measure of belated justice for the families of the thousands lost on 9/11. By contrast, Joe wobbled and did his best Jimmy Carter imitation. Strike Two.

All along, Hillary has performed loyally, smoothly and efficiently without the slightest miscue as secretary of state. Initially mistrusted and marginalized, she has steadily emerged as the dominant architect of foreign policy. The president trusts and respects her and she has repaid his support with her unwavering loyalty. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, another Clinton blood-loyalist if ever there was one, instinctively defers to her by reflex action. And she always makes the president look good, where poor old Joe Biden can’t stop spewing out all those embarrassing clunkers.

The Conventional Wisdom is that Biden Brings to the Table the Loyalty and Zeal of all those mythical Blue Collar Democrats and Working Stiffs. But that’s just bull, although since everyone likes genuinely decent old Joe, no one ever bothers to say so.

Biden’s “natural constituency” has been literally dead for at least 20 years. Union power has systematically failed and fizzled even in the Democratic industrial state primaries since it helped propel Walter Mondale to the party’s presidential nomination in 1984. And that was a kamikaze ride if ever there was one. Since then, Union power has been harder to find in America than Bigfoot.

The three great engines that drive core Democrat turn out are blacks, women and greens. The president already has the first group locked up. But he desperately needs Hillary for the second and she’s better than him on the third. Joe is useless on all three. And insofar as any working class voters bother to put economic issues over social ones and vote for the Dems at all anymore, Hillary is far better placed to rally them than Joe.

The bottom line is clear: Biden brought the president “experience” in 2008, but Obama has oodles of his own by now. Hillary won 19 million votes during her 2008 presidential campaign. Good Old Joe couldn’t have netted half that.

Right now, the president looks like he is coasting home against a credible but non-charismatic and all-over-the-place Republican frontrunner that has been weakened beyond expectation by a pack of clowns.

If Mitt Romney is forced, or has the miserable judgment, to put ridiculous Rick Santorum on the ticket, the president could probably win reelection with Charlie Sheen as his running mate. But Romney will probably be more sensible and he is economically literate (which is why the party rank-and-file hate him so much). With the dragon of inflation awakening, gas prices soaring and unemployment stubbornly refusing to fall when Obama tells it to, the president and his team know they need Hillary’s superstar dynamism on the ticket.

The president also knows that even if he can win by himself against a weak Republican opponent, he’s lost the coattails he had in 2008 to carry the House of Representatives. GOP political analysts remain confident that although they may lose 10 to a dozen seats or so, they will easily retain control of the House and stop Obama’s programs dead in their tracks. Obama therefore desperately needs to maximize turn out and party commitment to have any hope of recapturing the House and for that too he needs Hillary on the ticket.

For Hillary’s part, accepting the nomination will give her a Houdini escape from her previous pledges to step down as secretary of state and not to run again for the presidency. No woman has ever won election as vice president, or served as one: Hillary would be breaking another glass ceiling by going on the ticket. She already knows she would have four very comfortable years working with a president who respects her and relies upon her. The high comfort level between them is well-established and well documented. Then, barring catastrophe, Hillary would have the party presidential nomination offered to her by acclamation in 2016. What’s not to like?

In the trade, this is known as a win-win scenario. The only fly in the ointment would be dropping the genuinely nice guy warming the Number Two slot. But we all know where nice guys finish.

(Photo by Greg Whitesell)


About the author

Martin Sieff

Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff Contact the author.
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