If Caroline Kennedy wants to do Barack Obama a favor, she will kill the idea of Hillary Clinton as his vice-presidential nominee-pronto.
The daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, along with two other prominent Democrats, has been chosen by Senator Obama to pursue the search for his running mate for the general election campaign.
Senator Hillary Clinton’s ungracious refusal to concede defeat, after the conclusion of Tuesday’s primary elections in Montana and South Dakota, did not stop her from letting it be known that she would consider the vice president’s slot. Talk about cheek. The woman showed no class at all. She has done better than this in terms of the etiquette of public life and politics. I had two interactions with her while working at EPA and found her to be an intelligent, charming person, by all accounts an effective Senator even if you did not share her politics. Is it the drive for power that takes such a toll on an otherwise normal human being?
Obama’s deft deployment of the Kennedy mystique brought the discussion of his running mate back to earth, slowed down the tempo of the game, and allowed time for the political dynamic to play itself out for a time. It sends a clear message to Senator Clinton that her bargaining position, while not negligible, is hardly unassailable.
That wily politician, Ed Rendell, Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, sees the reality of Senator Clinton’s situation very clearly:
“There’s no bargaining. You don’t bargain with the Presidential nominee. Even if you’re Hillary Clinton and you have 18 million votes, you don’t bargain.”
But that’s not the half of it. What about Bill Clinton, rogue ex-President, who has taken on the role of political hatchet-and-hit man, the purveyor of racial politics? Let’s face it: nominating Hillary is the functional equivalent of nominating Bill Clinton for vice president.
Governor Rendell understands the dilemma Senator Obama faces were he to choose Hillary/Bill Clinton as the VP pick:
“The Obama campaign would have to make strict rules…about what President Clinton could and could not do during the campaign…the Obama campaign would have to control his schedule…”
Sure. But how do you control what comes out of his mouth? You could send President Clinton to the Arctic Circle, but some reporter or blogger or a person with camera in her cell phone will capture whatever gems of wisdom President Clinton might share with the assembled seal hunters. Again, Rendell:
“You know rule one for the vice president is make sure you never upstage the president, right? [Right!] It’s rule one. You know, Hillary Clinton in some ways couldn’t help but upstage, even if she was trying not to.”
Even discounting for the possibility that Governor Rendell wants to be vice president himself, his comments are very perceptive and spot-on.
The Bill Problem gets worse if Barack Obama were actually to be elected President. Think of Jimmy Carter’s free-lance diplomacy, multiply it, oh, by a hundred. That is what you will have to contend with if Billary is in ensconced at the Naval Observatory grounds in Northwest Washington.
Maybe Jack and Bobby Kennedy really did loathe Lyndon Johnson, but they never had to worry about Lady Bird, a woman who actually enhanced the image of the Kennedys, Johnson, and Washington, D.C. where she worked to restore its floral beauty on her own time.
Caroline, do your candidate a favor. Just drop a hint to Vanity Fair that there is no way Hillary Clinton will become vice president. Even if Senator Obama loses every single white-male-female-rural-blue-collar-whatever-demographic-you-like voter, and, consequently, the election, you would be doing America a great service.