Barack Obama claimed the magic number for the Democratic Party presidential nomination last night. His speech was characterized by civility; at one point he mentioned that we are Americans first and Dems or Republicans second. John McCain welcomed Obama into the general election with a rousing broadside bombardment, painting him as young, inexperienced, and cosmetic. Hillary Clinton made a speech, and ended it with a refusal to make any major announcement. Earlier in the day, she had told a reporter that she might be interested in the VP slot on the Dem ticket.
That last bit did remind me of Emily Post's Etiquette. What is the correct etiquette for your friend's wedding? You check the mail box daily for the invitation. You do not take out an advertisement in you local newspaper saying that you would like to attend it. I'm just saying, Obama is well aware of your political ambitions. He does not need your supporters pressuring him right now to place you on the ticket.
If I were Obama, I would have serious concerns about the prospect of Hillary Clinton as a running mate. For one thing, the civility thing is not always there. Yes, I realize that we have come to look upon VPs as political attack dogs, among other things. Cheney certainly fulfilled that role. But I really doubt that Obama is conceiving of his VP playing that role. I do not think that Obama really wants to play the surrogate game to that extent. The other thing about the prospect of working with Clinton is that she has not yet congratulated him on winning. What is that, a sort of subtle blackmail effort, as in "You better pick me as your running mate unless you prefer to have me submarine your campaign and hand the White House to McCain by refusing to concede the nomination to you"? The last thing is that she actually ran her campaign in part as an effort to build herself up by tearing Obama down. It was like, I have got to be on the ticket either top or bottom because you are black and white people do not like that. Yeah that was the message, though phrased a bit more gently perhaps. Why should he reward her for her role in doing McCain's job for him for several months?
It is true that Clinton received nearly as many popular votes in the primaries than Obama did. It is true that her base of women, older americans, and blue collar workers complements his base. It is true that Abraham Lincoln created a brilliant administration in 1860 by filling his cabinet with the men who had been his opponents for the Republican Party nomination. But he also must try to answer the question: do I want this lady in my administration? Bill is less problematic as the house husband of the VP, it's not so much about him. It's that Hillary's style is almost the complete opposite of Obama's. Would that make things messy for him? Would Clinton be tempted to throw her political weight around and try to tell Obama what to do in terms of policy? Bush welcomed that from Cheney, apparently, but I do not see Obama welcoming that from anybody. He wants to run his administration, it seems to me, as a sort of chairman of the board. He seems to want to benefit from the good ideas of others without yielding his position as the boss. I'm not sure I see Hillary fitting into that. Good luck with your decision Obama. It seems to me that there is a big downside on both sides of the question.