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March 18, 2008

Smarter Than Bill

Circ: If Hillary wins, she has to ask Obama to be her running mate if she intends to win a general election. If he wins, he needs nothing from her. He needs the moral equivalent of Lyndon Johnson to balance his ticket. Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, a Clinton supporter, comes close.

Clinton-Obama is not a balanced ticket. But she loses black votes without him. Absent that real risk, Obama is a terrible veep choice for Hillary. She needs A White Guy and a heavyweight. Obama-Clinton is an even worse ticket. He wins Hillary's voters and states without her--she doesn't.

This is why Obama is the stronger candidate. He's made himself indispensable. He comes to the general election a whole candidate in and of himself. Clinton does not. Which really isnít her fault-- it's just the street logic of Obama's run.

Hillary's run actually *made* Obama run. She should have seen this coming. She should have known her making the historic case for a woman candidate threw the door open for, well, just about anything. Hillary actually *created* this Obama phenom, as many of the arguments and much of the enthusiasm her viability generates is directly applicable to him.

Obama *had* to run. Once he realized there was this opportunity, he had to step in and use Clinton's headwind to create an opportunity for him to play a key role in the nomination process. The very worst thing that could have happened would have been a key slot at the convention and positioning for a 2012 or 2016 run.

But something unexpected happened along the way: Obama started winning. I (and, likely, Hillary Clinton) never thought Obama's run was about 2008. I've always assumed it was about '12 or '16. But, because Clinton was so enormously successful early on, Obama strolled in, making use of the same arguments, the same our-time-has-come rhetoric, to make his own candidacy viable. Which changed the strategy from positioning himself for a later run to locking in the veep slot. I'm absolutely convinced Obama was running for vice president.

But, then something even more unexpected happened. And, much to my surprise and Hillary's chagrin, Obama is actually a viable candidate for the nomination. I don't believe he can win a general (that's just my cynicism about liberal whites being overtaken by doubt when the curtain closes behind them on election day), but I do think he's positioned himself perfectly to demand the veep slot if the Dems find some way to rob him of the nomination.

And, frankly, the veep slot would be safer for him. Eight years in office, and nobody's going to hang the "inexperienced" bit on him. And, having successfully run a viable campaign, running in 2016 as the first black vice president wonít provoke nearly the anxiety this race does.

But his future would then be indelibly tied to Hillary Clinton's performance. And I thin Clinton would probably make a crummy president. Much as the Dems want to sell John McCain as Bush Term Three, I think that's just a faÁade McCain is putting up to try and pull his fractured party together. McCain *loathes* George Bush. He's way, way smarter than Bush. And the spiraling economy--the very scary economic forecasts--actually help McCain, who confesses he knows nothing about economics.

Not sure why, but I see McCa as Harry Truman-esque. I think people are going to be scared in November, and they're going to be looking for a grown-up. Hillary is really hurting herself by lashing out at Obama, making herself seem a woman of many faces who does underhanded things to get her way. McCain at least *looks* like a president--something neither Clinton nor Obama can claim.

But I think McCa will be a disaster in office. I think he crashes the economy and keeps us mired in Iraq. I think Hillary spends eighteen months trying to prove she's not Bill, or, worse, that she's Smarter Than Bill. But she's not, 'cause she didnít see The Obama Thing coming. She didnít see how her creating opportunity for herself in turn created an opportunity Obama could not possibly ignore. She did this to herself. Hillary got rope-a-doped. And, I take it back-- it IS her fault for not having seen this coming. Any smart lawyer knows your most clever arguments can ultimately be turned against you.

I honestly donít know what Obama does in his first 100 days. I'm not sure any of the three make a good president. Like, Kerry-- he ran a bad campaign. But I wasn't concerned about him assuming office the way I am about these three.

12 Comments

Isaac Lawrence:

On this:

"I don't believe he can win a general (that's just my cynicism about liberal whites being overtaken by doubt when the curtain closes behind them on election day)..."

I worry about that too. He's loved now, but when it comes down to crunch time... So I guess the question is, and even though they say people don't vote for a candidate because of who they pick as their vice president, but is there anyone Obama can pick as him veep to quell any doubts liberal white voters may have?

Jim Webb, the senator from Virgina, is a name that's been mentioned once or twice as a possible running mate for Obama. He's a young guy, like Obama, and first-term senator and all that. So he fits the "Change" thing. But then I guess we'll be back at the experience argument. Jim Webb's military though, so you have that...

I would have loved an Al Gore-Barack Obama ticket. I don't really know why, but that would have just worked in my head.

Rick:

Well, from what I understand, Hillary planned her campaign for the nomination the way Bush invaded Iraq - expecting easy victory and not considering a plan B.

Obama, OTOH, had a ground team in place, because he really had to run in the race, instead of Clinton's plan for a victory lap to the convention.

And while everyone got all stoked after the speech yesterday on race, he did an equally presidential speech today on what he'd do about Iraq. There's a third Big Speech tomorrow, IIRC, on the economy.

Fella:

Hillary - unelectable. If she arm-twists her way to the nomination, she blows up the Democratic Party for a decade, maybe a generation. Her scorched Earth approach should have been shut down long ago, but it took Dick Morris today to say it - she's got no chance of winning, sit down.


McCain, yes, he's a white man, and the formidible Republican machine will be behind him, but seems a less formidable an opponent than Hillary. The right had the weakest candidate field in years and so far Rock Star Obama has passed every test. Yes, they will swift boat him, but he's got far less dirt on him than Hillary, and it's not like McCain doesn't roll with crazy ministers as well.

As president, Obama makes the entire world exhale with relief at the promise of change. McCain...not so much.

Rick:

McCain also has the problem of at least appearing like he wants to stick with Bush's policies, which are massively unpopular. His talk about "100 years in Iraq" or "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" will push folks away. Bush really did screw things up on so many levels that a Republican would have to be nuts or desperate to run this year. I suspect most of the field is on the bench for 2012. McCain simply can't wait any longer.

BTW, both of those other two Obama speeches were killer. (At least in text, I haven't found vids of them yet.)

I can't disagree that McCain is way smarter than Bush -- but I'm not sure he's actually smart, at least not in the ways a president needs to be. Last year I would have had the same general confidence that, though I may disagree with his policies, he's basically a capable guy. But this campaign season has revealed that he doesn't seem to know much about the economy (by his own admission) or, more surprisingly, about his supposed area of strength, foreign policy. Josh Marshall at talkingpointsmemo.com has been doing an interesting series of posts on just this topic, which I highly recommend.

I can't disagree that McCain is way smarter than Bush -- but I'm not sure he's actually smart, at least not in the ways a president needs to be. Last year I would have had the same general confidence that, though I may disagree with his policies, he's basically a capable guy. But this campaign season has revealed that he doesn't seem to know much about the economy (by his own admission) or, more surprisingly, about his supposed area of strength, foreign policy. Josh Marshall at talkingpointsmemo has been doing an interesting series of posts on just this topic, which I highly recommend.

I'll be very interested to read/see those other two Big Speeches. I'm not eligible to vote - living in Canada, after all - but I do consider myself to have an Interest - better to call it a Stake? - in this particular election anyway.

Prof:

To me, it doesn't matter whether or not McCa is *actually* smarter than Bush (although his recent al Qaeda/Iran gaffes left me squirming). It's enough for me that he at least *appears* smarter than Bush. I mean, the Bush we see is the cleaned-up version, the prepped and handled version. Unfettered Bush must be horrifyingly worse than what we see on TV.

I'll echo Fell and Prof Fury.

A Hillary nomination means McCain wins. It likely fractures Dems even further and more strongly than we can ever see.

Obama-Clinton is a non-starter (not that Hill would accept) and even Clinton-Obama gets you most Dems but not independents. Anything with Clinton alienates independent moderates and energizes the Republican base. Clinton is just polarizing. I would have supported her easily a few months ago, but I've grown sick of her cynicism and "scorched earth policy." (Well put, Fella.) Now if she gets the nod, she gets my vote only because I refuse to vote Republican. She becomes Kerry; she's an anti-vote not a pro-vote and that can't win it.

A few years ago I would have felt very comfortable with a McCain presidency, but his pandering to conservatives has left me wondering where does the man really stand? The wheels fell off the Straight-Talk express. He's no longer acting and talking like the moderate to liberal Republican he used to be, but rather Bush the Third. And can we now please get the term "cut and spend" into the phraseology as much as "tax and spend"?

And like Prof, I'm very uneasy now with what does McCain know? Yes, he "looks" presidential but his foreign policy and economic policy is in serious doubt at this point, and those are our two most pressing issues.

Will white liberals vote for Obama? This one will gladly, but perhaps not. The difference in caucuses and primaries have strongly suggested that race is a deciding factor. Still, I'd hope that they'd vote for a change from the Republican disaster our country is in, regardless of the candidate's race.

2012 or 16 may be a better year for Obama? But who can say? Would a lost Clinton presidential bid potentially open up the doors further or shut them down, fearing that it was her womanhood rather than her Clintonhood that failed the party? What happens with a failed Obama presidential bid? Does it open the doors further or shut them tightly for people of color or women?

Oh, and regarding ties to wacky preachers, I find it interesting that both McCain and Huckabee are giving Obama a pass on the Wright incident, likely to distance themselves from similar crazy-sounding preachers who have endorsed him (McCain) or his own crazy preacher comments (Huckabee). I'm thinking Hillary will be less forgiving than the Republicans on this matter.

http://tinyurl.com/2zy69b (Carpetbagger Report)

Jordan Mayhak:

I've been saying it since he put in his bid. Obama wins the pop, but gets snubbed. Hillary loses... bad. Republican (McCain) messes up. Obama walks into office in 2012 as strongly as Bill did... and without the help of Perot!

Hell Obama running as an independant could still win 2012 if he spun it right. It may very well be in his interest to decline the offer of VP (should it come) because he should know Hillary is going to lose. Hey miracles happen, but I still think Obama is much stronger for a walk in 2012... and unlike what Hillary thought she'd do he will.

Scavenger:

on white people for Obama...I disagree about the behind the curtains. (I admit that's easy for a white person to do...disagree with you on that I mean), but I think Obama's message of hope trumps and color concern. That's what really won me over...after all these years of depression and negativity about the future, someone truly speaking about hope and the promise of tomorrow is someone I want to support.

on VP ... since the speech he gave endorsing Obama, I've been high on Bill Richardson for VP. He matches any kind of experience question that can be thrown at him. Plus, he helps with the hispanic vote, and he's what I'm calling a Stealth Latin. He doesn't look Hispanic, and his last name is Richardson, not HijoDeRicardo. To the people who his ethnicity would matter, I don't think they'd be able to recognize it.

 

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