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Saturday, June 21, 2014
Politics ...

Relative to the next Presidential election, we’re still at a point where the conventional wisdom doesn’t mean much, where the unconventional could yet become the convention.   Right now, the Democratic nomination is still Hillary Clinton’s for the asking.  But some pundits have been doing thought experiments that challenge Hillary’s claim to the crown. 

In a recent RCP article, Tom Bevan posed a list of 5 reasons why Hillary won’t (or shouldn’t) run. And to be honest, some of his reasons were pretty compelling. At bottom, Hillary isn’t such a good politician; she still gets uncomfortable in response to GOP carping about Bengazi, she becomes testy in response to challenging questions (such as the recent Diane Sawyer interview) and she has that habit of saying stuff that doesn’t play well (remember “what difference does it make”; a terrorist attack that killed top US diplomats doesn’t matter? Oh, and “we were dead broke”? After years of recession and millions who never got their jobs back?)  She is not the skilled political figure that Bill Clinton was, and maybe still is.

(And now, according to a new book about the Clintons and Obamas called “Blood Feud”, Hillary’s health is worse than was thought, in that she is susceptible to blood clotting, fainting and stroke; admittedly, this could be GOP dis-information, but given the brain blood clot she previously experienced, the health question is another Hillary vulnerability.)

But HRC has a lot of assets too.  She’s a strong centrist influence in a Democratic party swinging too far to the left to guarantee a plurality in a national election. And if she does NOT run, the Democratic cupboard is more bare than full. They have two governors, Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley; and although governors make good leaders, these two are Northeastern governors, which presents a hard sell dilemma in the necessary swing states of Florida & Ohio (the Dems need one of the two to keep the Presidency). Would Hillary Clinton as a VP candidate shore up a Cuomo or O’Malley ticker? Hillary is by now is mostly a Washington / New York figure, there’s not much Arkansas left in her; but her Clintonite centrism might play in Ohio, and demographic trends and pro Hispanic policies could cement New Mexico and maybe even Colorado.

After Cuomo and O’Malley, who is left? Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota or Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York? Not exactly household names nationwide. Joe Biden?  Too old, and never had the right stuff, and didn’t get any better over the past 8 years. Elizabeth Warren? She’s clearly not going to play well in Ohio or Colorado.
So why not Cuomo or O’Malley with Hillary as the VP candidate?  Could HRC content herself with the “senior advisor” position, the stabilizer . . . and would America buy it?  They bought GW Bush with Cheney as a mentor and guide. And having a former governor running things is good, but it would be nicer still to have someone in the top circle with foreign policy expertise and national experience at the top. Like JFK in 1960, Cuomo and O’Malley haven’t yet built up much national “gravitas”. Hillary could do for them what Lyndon Johnson once did for the Kennedy ticket.

It would be asking a lot of Hillary, perhaps too much, to ask her to permanently relinquish her dream of occupying the White House in her own right. But then again, she always has been a good sport about “riding shotgun” to the man in power. I personally think that a Hillary Clinton candidacy would be vulnerable if the GOP were to pick the right person to run against her (Jeb Bush or Mike Pence, say). But with Hillary in the anchoring / mentoring role, a younger and less experienced front-man having minimal baggage, like Cuomo or O’Malley, might seem palatable enough to a majority of voters.

The one and thus far only interesting footnote to the whole Democratic 2016 nomination story thus far has been ex-Montana governor Brian Schweitzer. Mr. Schweitzer would have some inherent appeal in the swing states, but he is running as the “anti-Hillary” (so forget about any joint ticket option). Schweitzer’s liberal variant of anti-Washington populism is strangely combined with a pro oil and gas drilling message. This may not sell well with the core Democrat base, although again it could be valuable in the critical swing states.

Schweitzer is trying to be a Joe Six-Pack leftist; but can he fashion a coherent message?  Could Schweitzer get any traction within the present Democrat money structure (where Hillary clearly has the advantage)?  Schweitzer is a long shot, but is interesting to watch.  He is the only Democrat thus far who seems to really want it, despite HRC; but he may not be able to get any farther than Howard Dean did back in 2006. In fact, Schweitzer just said some really weird stuff that may have already been his own “Dean scream”.

Oh well, the Schweitzer diversion didn’t take long! So back to the main question — what to do about Hillary. Again, I’d say that she could seriously position herself to become the best and most important VP the country has had since Theodore Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson; or she could tempt fate to twice become the conventional wisdom candidate at two years out, who winds up as a spectator on the sidelines come Inauguration Day.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 10:30 pm      

  1. Jim, Not sure how I feel about Hillary Clinton for president; but I note you are talking about her for vice president. As vice-president I’d say, I don’t think so. Maybe, she’d say the same too. Sometimes, when I think of her as president, I think: Great. Other times, I am just not sure. At no time do I say a definite NO to her as president.

    As to the other individuals you mention as possible nominees, I am ashamed to say I don’t know any of them. A few of them I’ve simply “heard of”–as in the name Cuomo. But I would have no knowledge of what kind of job they did in whatever position they held previously or hold now.

    Sometimes I find myself wondering if the GOP might possibly nominate someone I might even vote for! Now there’s a stunner! But I’d be open to the right person. I *can* say that Jeb Bush would definitely not be one I’d be open to voting for. That’s just what we’d need, another Bush as president. (As my mother would say, “Not!”) Another “I don’t think so” from me.

    For some reason I can’t get myself excited, or even really interested in, who might run as president in both parties–to say nothing of how I feel about vice-president. Vice-president isn’t even on my radar.

    I think I’ll just wait and see who the parties end up nominating and then decide who I’ll vote for. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — June 28, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

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