19 May 2008

It's a No-Brainer

This is a relatively easy call. Hillary Clinton would be a near perfect vice-presidential candidate for Barack Obama. Shall I formulate a list?

-a proven vote getter
-tough (would obliterate Iran at the wink of an eye)
-has already been vetted
-good campaigner
-will generate crowds, enthusiasm, and turnout
-can raise huge sums of money
-experienced (can and will answer any phone at 3:00 am)
-geographical balance
-gender and racial balance: a true revolutionary ticket, let's not forget that
-age balance
-the candidates agree on most issues
-will savage any Republican Veep candidate in a debate--I can't wait to see Hillary and Pawlenty go toe-to-toe, any guess on who will win that one?

But the most important consideration here goes to votes: simple arithmetic. Will Hillary bring Obama any voters? And the answer is a resounding yes! These two fit together like an electoral glove (whatever that is). We have seen Hillary taking the rural white votes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. These are just the voters Obama needs to court. Granted, some of them might go to McCain, but Clinton will surely keep many of them for the ticket in November. She will also help with women and older voters.

What is the downside to this ticket? There are actually very few important things.
-Obama would win New York without Clinton on board
-there is the Bill problem, someone would need to watch over him.
-sick of the constant Clinton drama
-this would seem a politically calculated selection, which might initially hurt Obama with young, idealistic voters
-there are still skeletons in the Clinton closets
-might energize some Republican voters
-Clinton's Iraq vote
-both from the senate
-there have been some mud thrown during the campaign that would probably be used by the Republicans in an attempt to divide the ticket

The biggest problem in formulating this union would be egos. These two senators probably don't like each other very much. I doubt either one wants to do much to help the other. But I think this ticket could bring us a landslide win in November. If the political operatives can just show each of them the potential benefits of this ticket--we are in for a fun and frolicking fall campaign.

I would still vote for Obama if he selected Bayh, Nunn, Sebilius, Richardson, Clark, Webb, Biden, Dodd, Edwards, or Napolitano. But I don't see any of these choices really bringing much to the ticket. And indeed, Obama might still win in November. But an Obama-Clinton ticket would be a rock-star partnership. With Hillary on the ticket I doubt we would spend another long evening waiting for a few states to report--it would be over early.

Historical Interlude
After JFK selected Lyndon Johnson as his running mate at the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angles, there was gloom and doom in the Kennedy camp. One key advisor told the future president that this was “the worst mistake you ever made” predicting that Kennedy would spend the entire campaign apologizing for adding Johnson to the ticket.

The following weekend, while sitting around the Kennedy compound still wondering if they had done the right thing—old Joe Kennedy entered the room and said, “Don’t worry Jack, in two weeks everyone will be saying that this was the smartest thing you ever did.” Papa Joe Kennedy was right. Say what you want about Johnson's future mistakes—the point was to win the 1960 election. And Johnson was a great help in putting together a narrow victory.

And when a few Obama supporters are angry that he has picked his main rival, some wise individual will go up to him and say, “Don’t worry Barack, in two weeks everyone will be saying that this was the smartest thing you ever did.”

And it will be: Obama-Clinton in 2008.