Monday, May 12, 2008

"Could an Obama-Clinton ticket win?"

The Week:
What happened
With Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination hopes diminishing, party power brokers and campaign surrogates are resurrecting the idea of a unity “dream ticket,” with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket and Clinton in the vice presidential slot.
Obama told CNN last week that Clinton would obviously “be on anybody’s short list to be a potential vice presidential candidate,” and supporters of the plan say it could help unite the Democratic Party—fractured by the long nomination fight—in the fall. (Newsday) But key Obama supporter Sen. Ted Kennedy, when asked about a joint ticket, said, “I don’t think it’s possible,” adding that whoever Obama picked should be “in tune with his appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people.” (The Boston Globe, free registration)

What the commentators said
“They call it the ‘dream ticket,’” said James Poulos in London’s The Guardian, but it’s really “now Hillary’s dream.” For his part, Obama could do better than choosing “the GOP’s most profitable punching bag” as his VP choice. He could get Clinton’s “name recognition” and experience without her obvious “drawbacks” in a number of prominent Democrats, like Joe Biden and Jim Webb. Obama “owes Clinton no love,” and Democrats should give their presumptive nominee “the full use of his natural power” to decide “the person best suited” to join his ticket. And it probably won’t be the woman launching “embarrassingly shameless and bottom-dwelling” attacks on him.

Still, “don’t rule it out,” said Dick Polman in The Philadelphia Inquirer. If they’re forced into a political “shotgun marriage,” you can be sure that “love has nothing to do with it.” It’s about “pragmatics,” and Clinton and Obama “conjoin perfectly” as “political bedfellows.” The arguments against the joint ticket are “all good points,” they’re just not new ones. With all the “bad blood spilled,” nobody ever thought Reagan would pick George H. W. Bush, nor did they think Kennedy would invite the hostile, “legendary ego” of Lyndon Johnson onto his ticket. They did, and both tickets won.

Obama has to win the “support and trust” of “Clinton’s most loyal fans,” said Steve Benen in The Carpetbagger Report blog, but that doesn’t mean he has to pick Clinton herself. To unite the party, perhaps it would be enough to choose someone who endorsed Clinton, like Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Clinton could be a great and effective Senate ally for a President Obama, but it’s much harder “imagining these two cooperating, with a former president in the wings, in running the executive branch.”

They’d better learn how to cooperate if the Democrats want to win the White House, said Steve Mitchell in The Detroit News. Two of the party’s most important “constituencies” are African American and women, and each group is increasingly siding with Obama and Clinton, respectively. The Democrats need both, and a joint ticket is “the only way” to bring the winning coalition to the table. As for whether it’s a “dream ticket” or a “nightmare ticket” for Democrats, “that will be answered in November.”

The case for an Obama-Clinton unity ticket is an “argument worth taking seriously,” said Michael Tomasky in The New Republic’s The Plank blog. And yet there are “several and yets.” Like that Vice President Clinton would “demand some kind of major portfolio”—and “her track record with major portfolios is other than encouraging.” Then there’s former President Bill Clinton.
“A former president married to a current vice president who really thinks she should be president creates the potential for way too much mischief that could undermine the president.”

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