|Hillary Clinton has a lot of power this week, to shape the psychology of her most fervent supporters -- the ones who aren't core Democrats enough to go with whomever is the nominee, the older, white women who are bitter, angry, passionate and enraged that she has been "denied" (never mind the mistakes made by her own campaign, the 11 straight losses after Super Tuesday, and those damned caucus states) the nomination for president.) What she does over the next several days will matter, not so much for Barack Obama, who I believe will win a majority of the women's vote regardless of the Clinton dead-enders, but to those women themselves, who have put everything -- and I mean everything -- into her campaign. For Obama, she can make this easy, or she can make it difficult. She can bow out gracefully, or she and her supporters can go out ugly, but make no mistkae. Tonight, like it or not, it ends.
That said, for the first time, Hillary Clinton (not her husband) has said that she is "open" to becoming Barack Obama's vice president:
WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton told colleagues Tuesday she would be consider joining Barack Obama as his running mate.
On a conference call with other New York lawmakers, Clinton, a New York senator, said she was willing to become Obama's vice presidential nominee if it would help Democrats win the White House, according to a participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak for Clinton.
Advisers for Clinton are also indicating that the former first lady is withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket. ...
Well that depends on what the meaning of "press" is.
I was on the radio this afternoon with my mentor, James T (Hot 105 FM Miami) and when asked whether she would be on the ticket, I gave an emphatic "no." (Hey, it was a one-word answer request.) I continue to take the Nancy Pelosi view, that a joint ticket will not happen, and from a messaging point of view, makes no sense for Barack. But if Camp Clinton decides to play hardball, and attempts to railroad her onto the ticket in August, that, my friends, would be ugly, ugly, ugly.
And I don't think it would work. What it would do is tarnish the Clinton name within the Democratic party, maybe forever. James has made the very good point that if Obama is a strong man who knows who he is, he should be able to handle a strong vice president (and her husband). I agree. But I think Obama has to be allowed to make a fresh start -- to write his own chapter in Democratic history, without dragging her and her husband's vast library behind him. He needs to be, to quote Al Gore, his "own man," free from the Clinton legacy. Already, Washington is shaking off that legacy; as the "Hardball" crew just pointed out, when Howard Dean beat Clinton guy Donnie Fowler for DNC chair in 2005 and when Nancy Pelosi and not a Clinton loyalist became Speaker of the House, the race was on the close the door behind the Clinton family.
I think that door, for now, needs to remain closed. Bill Clinton needs to get about the work of rebuilding his legacy, particularly his tremendous work on global philanthropy. Hillary needs to find an identity apart from the White House. And America needs to take a big gulp of fresh air, free from the Bushes (mercifully) and -- and I say this with sadness, not with relish, because I always really liked and respected Bill -- free from the Clintons.
Labels: 2008 election, Barack Obama, campaigns, Hillary Clinton, presidential candidates, veepstakes