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This Really Isn't That Complicated

Friday, May 16, 2008
If I were working for the Obama campaign, and Clinton's people told me that she'd quit if I made her VP, I'd probably do it - just to wrap this stuff up. VP's really don't make that much difference, and it was accelerate the unification of the party going into November. But this is the ONLY reason I can think of for putting Clinton on the ticket that makes any sense.

There are two other silly arguments. First, that we need a woman on the ticket. I think disappointment with the defeat of the first major woman presidential candidate might deflate female support a little - although I think female support for Clinton is all about positively voting for Clinton than voting against Barack. But if you need a woman running mate, why choose Clinton? Why not Kathleen Sebelius, who gives you other thematic advantages as well? Unfortunately I think Janet Napolitano is probably a non-starter, given her unmarried status and all the rumors about her sexual orientation. I don't like it, but there it is. I'm also a little concerned at the idea of putting a black man and a white woman on the same ticket. Let's just say that would be pretty daring, given how badly Democrats usually get killed among white men. Maybe it's a good idea - I really can't decide. But it obviously comes with huge risks.

The other argument is that Obama needs to shore up his support among white working class voters, among whom Clinton demonstrated real strength in the primaries. Now, I think the idea that Hillary Clinton has some sort of special rapport with these voters is simply bizarre. These votes were clearly about rejecting Obama than endorsing Clinton. She's a DLC technocrat, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but she is in no sense a populist champion. The very idea is absurd.

As DHinMI astutely described, Obama's real achilles heel in the primaries wasn't among white working class voters generally, but in greater Appalachia in particular. Given that, doesn't it make a whole lot more sense to pick a running mate FROM APPALACHIA, rather than a Chicagoan-Arkansan-New Yorker who is pretty much from D.C.?

I also pretty much agree with Bowers' idea that you "double down" with a running mate to underscore your campaign themes, rather than trying to compensate for weaknesses. Given this, I really think that the VP options can be narrowed down to two. If you want a woman, pick Kathleen Sebelius, who is an articulate moderate woman who has demonstrated real ability to win over Republicans and independents. If you want a man, choose Jim Webb, who is a populist from a swing state and a former Republican. There might be others, of course, but these choices seem fairly clear.

Clinton, on the other hand, comes with an enormous amount of baggage. If the price of healing the party is putting her on the ticket, that's fine. But recognize that that is what you are doing - not compensating for Obama's weaknesses.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:43 AM
  • If this is Clinton's teams tact: get the VP nod. Then they need to pressure this decision form team Obama and the party right now, very fast.

    Because as soon as Obama seals this up in early June (and its rapidly moving that way with the Bush and McCain attacks) - his numbers will naturally rise among Democrats. I dont believe these polls with 50% of Clinton supporters vowing not to vote for Obama. A good chunk will flip back when they realize its over.

    And when that happens, and Obamas national and internal numbers rise naturally, the hand-wringing will end and Clinton's stock as a VP will drop like a stone.

    If she wants it - she needs manipulate team Obama by riding the hysteria and hand-wringing among prominent Washington Democrats lately that has made them so famous.

    Hopefully team Obama is smart enough to hold on for 2-3 weeks and not give into pressure.

    By Blogger Brian, at 10:27 AM  
  • I think you're being overly optimistic about people coming back to the party. I've never voted party line, always for a candidate, and Barack has made it seem like he doesn't want it and I know others who feel that way. (He is aided by the leadership talking heads, however, so you may want to tell them to STFU if you want any of us who are saying we won't vote BO because of the sexism/classism crap come November if he gets it.) I should point out that this would also be my first time voting for a dem for president since I voted for Bill. I vote by person, not party. Always have, always will.

    I belong to a knitting group and we have a Hillary forum (there is a similar Obama one of course) and there are a lot of Hillary supporters who are not Democrats and will definitely not vote Dem in November if it's not Hillary. She actually has a lot of conservative and republican fans and I don't think Kathleen Sebelius is gonna win them over.

    By Blogger lost clown, at 3:59 AM  
  • Oh and just so you know I just got back and I didn't mean to imply that I thought Obama supporters were all sexists. I edited my post accordingly. I didn't think he'd do #2, I just kind of threw it in there.

    By Blogger lost clown, at 4:04 AM  
  • Can you explain what you mean when you say that Obama "doesn't want it"? Do you mean your vote? Or to win?

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 8:20 AM  
  • My vote.

    He's pro-nuclear power. My first arrest at 18 was protesting nuclear power. The environmentalist in me would die a little if I voted for any candidate who had such a stance.

    Calling reporters sweetie, especially after what happened in PA when he was offering kisses and calling women sweeties if they voted for him AND after referring to Barbara Boxer as a cutie definitely shows me he doesn't want my vote.

    Axelrod saying that the working class people who haven't been voting him "are likely to vote Republican anyway" shows just what they think about people like me.

    Telling his supporters they have to be nice to Hillary supporters now, while a bit late, is nice, but if he wants my vote why not do something, like offer me Universal Healthcare? Take nuclear power off the table? Promise to keep libertarians like Axelrod far away from Social Security (yeah, the use of the word 'fix' is not a way to get my vote). And, for the love of god I don't believe in STOP SAYING GOOD THINGS ABOUT REAGAN!

    Anyhow, those are just some things off the top of my head. Words are nice, actions are better.

    By Blogger lost clown, at 7:47 PM  
  • Goodness! Well, I could easily come up with a similar list lambasting Clinton for not being liberal enough, but that would be petty. Before commenting on these specifically, I'd like to offer that, as a human being, Barack Obama is going to have positions that aren't the same as ours. I used to tell my students that the only way to guarantee that a candidate agreed with you on everything was to BE the candidate.

    Nuclear power: I'm not aware of Obama promoting nuclear power. As far as I can tell, nuclear power is certainly not at the core of Obama's environmental agenda , and even Al Gore has stated that he's theoretically open to the idea as part of a broader package. Not that I am! Just saying.

    I don't know about the kissing thing. The sweetie think was stupid but he's certainly apologized about it.

    Obama has consistently told his supporters to be nice to Hillary. I was at an event where he did so, overriding boos. Just because it's not on the news doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    Axelrod was spinning, and speaking from personal experience, there's a huge difference between a campaign manager and an administration.

    Obama's not for universal healthcare? Why? Because he doesn't want an individual mandate? I've written about this before, but the mandate is a complete non-starter, politically speaking, and I have absolutely no faith it'd be adequately funded over the long term. But other than that Clinton and Obama's plans are virtually indistinguishable.

    Um, Obama's "fix" for Social Security is to lift the cap on payroll taxes so that wealthy people pay more. That's it. That actually makes the system MORE progressive, and would get us out of the business of raiding the trust fund.

    I think Obama's comments about Reagan have been badly misinterpreted. He's praised Reagan's political skills and made an analytical statement about Reagan's influence, both of which are incontestable. And he's used Reagan against McCain respecting talking to foreign leaders. But he's repeatedly attacked Reagan's actual policies.

    Finally, given the American political system, even if you're not crazy about Obama, what sense does it make to facilitate McCain's election??

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 6:45 AM  
  • McCain didn't earn my vote either. I'm not voting for anyone who didn't earn it and I'm sick of people telling me that I have to vote Obama for the 'good of the party.'

    Your 'nonstarter mandate' works in every other 1st world nation and it's a great first step towards single payer healthcare. As someone who was never insured until Medicaid and whose friends overwhemingly (like 98%) do not have insurance and in some cases desperately need to go to a doctor. I'd be dead if not for Medicaid, and I know I'm not alone.

    Hillary has continually had to apologise for her campaign staff. Obama, I'm waiting.

    It's not my party and I don't have to do anything. No one does and I hate it that people keep acting like I should reward the Democrats for silently allowing misogyny to run rampant. No. I don't think I should do what I've never done before esp. after that: vote for a candidate I neither like nor trust. Hillary or McKinney. Those are not 'throw-away' votes. I am voting for who I believe in. Everyone should. Anything less is criminal in my book and the cacophony of voices telling me to vote for someone I don't want to vote for purely for "the good of the party" is coercion. It's still one person, one vote, right?

    I don't think Clinton's liberal enough either, but Obama's just as centrist and I think he leans a little more right then she does, at least from what I hear coming out of his mouth.

    By Blogger lost clown, at 3:50 PM  
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