Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What Does Hillary Want?

(photo stolen from random website).

It's the game anyone can play!

Pundits everywhere are opining about what Hillary Clinton wants from Barack Obama now that he has defeated her and won the Democratic presidential nomination.

It will be fun to look back and see who was right and who was wrong after the fact.

The Oracle of Amsterdam would hardly be worthy of his name if it didn't venture a pronouncement.

Thus, we insert a coin into its mouth and the Oracle begins to speak:

Hillary will be Vice President.

For those who prefer predictions to be backed up with reasoning, read on.

Use Occam's Razor. Hillary's motivation is right in front of us, and has always been: she wants to be President.

As demonstrated by her energy and persistence in the primary, she is a vigorous woman of 60 who still sees many paths to the White House.

It may be hard for those of us who don't share that kind of ambition to understand, but so it is. She has simply made the decision that she is going to "give it her all" to achieve this life goal.

So the question she has asked herself in the mirror since it became clear she was going to lose is, how can she best to leverage a very close second place finish to achieve that goal?

Answer: demand the Vice Presidency.

Consider the many paths to higher power the VP spot holds:

1) Obama screws up massively before the convention.
2) Obama dies before the convention.
3) Obama wins the 2008 election but dies in office.
4) Obama wins the 2008 election but performs so poorly she can challenge him _ or he doesn't run for whatever reason _ in 2012.
5) Obama loses the 2008 election and she can run in 2012.
6) Obama wins in 2008; whether he wins or loses in 2012 she can run again in 2016.

Number six 6) is probably the least attractive option for Hillary, but in any case, she has no reason not to make history as the first woman Vice President.

It's worth mentioning that as a member of the Democratic ticket, she can ask Obama to take over her campaign debts (I believe she owes $20 million).

She is in a strong position to get Obama to agree to make her his partner because:

a) however he feels about her personally, he risks a huge amount _ everything _ politically if he forces a rift with her.

b) He makes an exceedingly good chance of winning if he accepts her.

Politics is about compromise.

And I'm not completely cynical: I believe she will try her hardest to help him win.

By the way, don't let the statisticians convince you the Vice Presidency is a bad place for a politician with presidential aspirations.

Since the dawn of the television age, being "number two" is an excellent place to launch a campaign for the number one spot.

It's far superior to toiling away anonymously in the Senate.

Dick Cheney certainly hasn't allowed the Vice Presidency to grow less important lately.

Who knows, perhaps Obama will also promise to put Hillary in charge of Health Care reform.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If it's not poor form to comment on my own post: Here's a list of other predictions (from NYMag):

• Howard Fineman has it on good authority that Clinton definitely does not want to be vice-president (been there, done that, more or less, as First Lady), and that Obama definitely doesn't want her. Another thing Clinton doesn't want: for Obama to pick another woman as VP. [Newsweek]

• Michael Crowley thinks Clinton may be trying to get back at Obama "for perceived slights against her." Or maybe she has some "hidden goal, like the settling of her campaign debt." Probably, though, Clinton simply wants to "relinquish the stage on her own terms, at a time of her own choosing." [Stump/New Republic]

• Adam Nagourney writes that Clinton "used her final hours of the long primary season to make clear that she would be open to being Mr. Obama’s running mate." [NYT]

• Roger Simon says Obama needs to show some backbone and deny Clinton a spot on the ticket. [Politico]

• Jake Tapper wonders whether Hillary and Bill would even submit to the type of intrusive, thorough vetting process that vice-presidential candidates must undergo. An unwillingness by Bill to answer questions about his finances, ties to the Saudis, donors to his library, etc., could be an out for the Obama campaign. [Political Punch/ABC News]

• Marc Ambinder hears from a close Clinton confidant that she doesn't necessarily want to be VP but wouldn't turn it down if it was offered to her because she "would not refuse a chance like that to serve her country." [Atlantic]

• Andrew Sullivan thinks Clinton is maneuvering for a spot on the ticket — and if she doesn't get it, she's "clearly intent on getting Obama defeated this fall." Even if she does become the vice-presidential candidate, she can claim a loss to McCain wasn't her fault, and will run again in 2012. [Atlantic]

• Ben Smith notes Obama's offer in his speech to make Clinton a central figure in reforming health care, which "seems plausible in a way the vice presidency, for a dozen reasons, doesn't." [Politico]

• Ezra Klein writes that as long as she stays in the race, Clinton "has the chance, no matter how slim, that lightning will strike, or scandal will hit, or tragedy will fall," and she will step in and become the nominee. She knows it's over, but "sees no upside in admitting the end." [American Prospect]

• Maureen Dowd posits a few theories for why Clinton is open to being veep: She believes Obama is "too black, too weak and too elitist" to beat McCain and is waiting to say "I told you so." Or maybe she's banking on something terrible happening and wants to be just a heartbeat away from the presidency. [NYT]

• Joe Klein doesn't think the way to earn a spot on the ticket is to "demand immediate negotiations and a commitment from Obama," if becoming veep is really what Clinton wants. Instead, she should demonstrate her "whole-hearted support for Obama."

US News and World Report: Here is what she really wants:

1. Sen. Barack Obama to plead with her to accept the second place on the ticket.

2. A return to power in Washington to be close to the job she lost and feels cheated about (though as the heavy favorite who blew it).

3. A place at the table for her husband, the former president, who hurt her effort in the primaries with some over-the-top comments.