Please throw us into that briar patch.
A lot of Democrats continue to think that if Barack Obama picks Hillary Clinton as his running mate (if, that is, he actually gets the nomination at the convention, which I still think is not entirely a done deal), their party will have a “dream ticket” that will unite women, black voters in droves, the chablis-and-brie set (i.e. “limousine liberals”) and white working class voters in an unstoppable juggernaut.
If only conservatives could be so lucky. But maybe we can make our own luck. Maybe we can express fear and trembling, beg the liberals not to throw us into the Obama-Clinton briar patch, and watch them fall for our faux fear.
But it’s hard to believe they would be so flat-out stupid.
It might even be easier to run against Billary at the bottom of the ticket than it would be to beat them at the top. It was bizarre enough to imagine Bill Clinton as “First Gentleman” (or First Lout: “Better put some ice on that”). But trying to imagine him as the Second Fiddle to a Second Fiddle is enough to make any sane voter run away screaming. Not only would we have a frighteningly angry, priapic narcissist trying to butt in on presidential decision-making, but we would have a frighteningly angry priapic narcissist trying to butt in past a vice president who herself is trying to butt in on presidential decision-making. And all while both of them will surely again be dodging real subpoenas and imaginary sniper fire.
AND CAN YOU imagine how easy it would be for John McCain to contrast himself with Obama-Billary? He’s already going to be erasing Obama’s image as a change agent and replacing it with the truth of Obama as a conventional liberal. With Billary beside Obama, though, Obama’s whole slogan goes out the door: From “Change you can believe in” to “Conventional liberalism you can’t trust.” After all, an exit poll from one of the recent primaries showed that just two-fifths of Democrats thought that Sen. Clinton is trustworthy. (How even those two-fifths can be so deluded is a matter for psychologists, not columnists, to explore.)
Both Clintons’ trust deficits are well merited. Conservatives, of course, need only focus on Mrs. Clinton’s history. Her boss on the Watergate committee almost fired her for unethical behavior. She used a $1,000 investment in “cattle futures” as a magnet for the ethical equivalent of a $100,000 bribe. She intervened, for purely political purposes, to help secure a pardon for Puerto Rican terrorists. She told Burger King fibs (“home of the Whopper”) to the special counsel investigating Travelgate. She gave a verbal wink and nod (on a phone conversation video-recorded at the other end) to a scheme to hide the donated costs of a huge Hollywood campaign fund-raiser. In short, for her own political or pecuniary advantage, she would willingly forget not just the meaning of “is,” but even where to find it in the dictionary. (Maybe she might claim Sir Edmund Hillary left the dictionary intended for her on the top of Mount Everest when he was finally providing a name for her five long years after she was born — a truly horrendously long time for a little girl to wait for a name!)
If Obama is a blank screen on which Americans can project their highest aspirations, Hillary Clinton is a blank conscience with which she (and her husband) can justify any dishonesty, any hypocrisy, any ruthlessness as long as it advances her political well-being. (As conservatives would surely point out repeatedly, an Obama-Hillary ticket would also be virtually blank in terms of significant legislative accomplishments.)
THEY ALSO WOULD form the first ticket in history utterly permeated by Radical Chic. Two disciples of Saul Alinsky, two people steeped in the politics of protest, two Ivy Leaguers posing as working-class heroes from Chicago: Oh, what a target-rich environment for critics, and what a hideous turnoff to Middle America! Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton are two peas in a pod when it comes to sneering at “bourgeois” values, and two full months together as a ticket, reinforcing each other’s prejudices, would make their pea-pod-hood abundantly obvious. Combine that with their mutual tendencies to associate with sleazy characters for financial and political gain (note the Tony Rezko verdict yesterday), and Obama-Clinton start looking like more elitist versions of Bonnie and Clyde (minus the violence). Or has nobody noticed that both the Clintons and the Obamas became far wealthier once in “public service” than they ever had been before?
A word of warning to Obama, though: He would do well to remember Merle Haggard’s song about the outlaw duo, a line of which noted that “the legend made Bonnie the head of the game.”