On a train to New York, and I am considering the next move in this unending saga called Election 2008, with the battlefield of the general election suddenly rolling out before us.
Specifically, I'm looking at a pile of newspapers, and paging through websites that are mulling this idea of Clinton as Veep for Obama.
So much talk is being logged around this idea of what she could bring to him, in terms of support, but it seems to me that the evidence of this campaign shows that to be an incomplete way of viewing this situation.
The missing part of this "Hillary on the ticket" idea is the same thing that torpedoed her campaign. It does not address her "negative" factor. There are undeniably people who like her, and might come to Obama if he takes her on as running mate, but many others may be turned away by that very move.
Remember, he has ridden a wave of moderates and young voters, coming out in unprecedented numbers, because he has promised a break with old-fashioned politics. If he runs with her, he runs the risk of repudiating his own message and he could "cap" his upward potential by disaffecting not only those who have already come out, but also any potential new recruits. He would be trying to grab a shaky, and slim advantage among people who, for all their bluster, will probably vote for him anyway; and forsaking the potential of more explosive growth among moderates, independents, and cross-over Republicans.
Considering that McCain is clearly going to play hard for that same moderate middle, I have heard plenty of reasonable Democrats voice concern for months, that making Clinton his Veep could prove suicidal. Not to mention an idea that has been bubbling for a while: Even if he wants to do this, putting Hillary into the Vice Presidency will also open the White House door wide to Bill Clinton, and no president ever has wanted to labor in the shadow of a predecessor, let alone one that is literally looking over his shoulder.
Without question, Obama has his work cut out to draw in Senator Clinton's supporters if he does not make her a running mate. Some will be placated with nothing less. But Obama has outrun her for the nomination by going after the middle, by defying convention, by exciting a sense among many Americans that he is willing to shove aside old party politics; not just as practiced by the Republicans, but also as practiced by the Democrats.
There are good reasons for him to consider Hillary Clinton as a Vice President, but as I rock along on this train beneath a gray sky that must look even grayer to Camp Clinton, I wonder if he will find more, better reasons to look elsewhere for a running mate.
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