When your number one theme in a campaign is ‘change’, you don’t nominate someone to be your running mate from a previous administration. That is about as basic as anything can get. That doesn’t mean that Barack Obama should ignore the high level of support that Hillary Clinton has had in this nominating process. But it does mean that, contrary to what Bill Clinton thinks, Hillary has not earned a meeting to discuss joining the ticket. It’s not a matter of ‘earning’ a meeting, it’s a matter of the whole topic being a non-starter. Obama ran on sidelining lobbyists and changing the way Washington works. He can no more have Clinton on his ticket than he can have Dick Cheney. It would destroy the rationale for his candidacy. It has been a close contest, but the change candidate prevailed, and he needs a running mate that fits in thematically with his message.
The problem for the Clintons is that their defeat leaves them sidelined from power and with no obvious avenues for regaining it. Perhaps that is why they are latched on like a pit bull to the calf-meat of the Democratic Party. But no one gets a pit bull off their leg by offering them a better deal. You take a pool cue to their skull and whack them until they let go. There is no other way.
The problem is not so much dispatching the pit bulls, but doing so in such a way as to not alienate their supporters. Yet, once we start looking at this, it becomes obvious that the pit bulls do not care about their supporters. That’s why this looks so ridiculous:
The growing discussion about a ticket of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton is largely being fueled by Clinton supporters, although it is a suggestion that Obama supporters do not dismiss…Prominent supporters of Mrs. Clinton also are sure to be included, like Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana and Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio.
Does anyone think the Clintons would feel better about how things turned out if Evan Bayh or Ted Strickland are on the ticket? For that matter, do any of Clinton’s core supporters (other than corporate interests) give a crap whether Bayh or Strickland are on the ticket? No.
For the Clintons and their core supporters this has been about two things: the Clintons, and the historic possibility of a woman as president. It does nothing for those two goals to nominate a man not named Clinton to be on the ticket.
What we’re currently dealing with is a form of blackmail, where the Clintons have the ability to do severe damage to Obama’s electoral chances by delegitimizing his victory. He has no incentive to reward their bad behavior but he does have an incentive to get them to stop their bad behavior. So, what should he give them?
They don’t want the vee-pee slot for one of their allies. They can’t have the vee-pee slot for themselves. The Senate will never give her power now that most of them have endorsed Obama and are blood enemies of the Clinton family. And she’s proven herself temperamentally unfit for the Supreme Court or, really, any position of real responsibility. Or, perhaps this last bit is too harsh. Maybe she will calm down in time and return to acting like someone with an ounce of integrity. We can hope. Nonetheless, it is not obvious how Obama can responsibly appease the Clinton family. And, yet, he needs to come up with something.