Here we go with the speculation about changes Barack Obama could make to enhance his chances of re-election. One of those proposed changes is making Hillary Clinton his running mate. Richard Benedetto makes the case at Real Clear Politics:
Clinton would add some much-needed pizazz to a tough campaign that [Joe] Biden does not. More importantly, she would shore up a shaky Democratic base, a huge part of which consists of disappointed women who still believe the secretary of state should have been president and would have done a better job than Obama.
Biden, who ran for president himself in 2008, was picked for vice president largely to make up for the foreign policy experience that Obama lacked. After all, he had been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But Clinton, after three years of solid performance as secretary of state, more than matches that, making Biden expendable.
It is Clinton’s voice, not Biden’s, that we hear when the administration speaks out on hot spots such as Syria, Libya and Somalia. That clearly demonstrates how much trust and confidence the president has in allowing her to articulate administration policy on touchy and volatile foreign policy issues he would rather not be front-and-center on himself.
In contrast, Biden flopped on the one high-profile task Obama gave him this year — negotiate a budget-deficit deal with Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The Biden-led talks came to an abrupt end in June when Republicans walked out.
But the foreign policy angle doesn’t strike me as a good reason to replace Biden with Clinton. Foreign policy is going to play second fiddle, at best, to the economy in next year’s election. And to the degree that it plays a role, highlighting Clinton’s role as Obama’s voice on Syria, Libya and Somalia — none of which are exactly bragging points for the president to date — doesn’t seem like much of a win to me.
For Clinton to boost Obama’s appeal in the states Benedetto mentions later in the article — Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa — she’d probably have to speak more on economic issues anyway. But what is she going to be able to say on economic issues that will make a difference, unless Obama introduces new policies for her to talk about? I know this administration thinks its messaging has been the real culprit, but the real problem is its inability to do anything to shake 9 percent unemployment and stagnant growth. Perhaps Obama will offer some new ideas — besides reforming the patent system — in his big speech next month. And if so, perhaps Clinton would be a better spokesperson for those ideas than Biden (or even Obama). But unless he announces the VP switch soon, aren’t those policies going to sink or swim before she can help? And if Obama is determined to stay the course, I don’t see how she helps — or why she’d want to be going out and touting the same old policies that aren’t working.
I suppose the best argument that is that Hillary would help Obama just by being Hillary, not to mention bringing her husband’s full attention and political skills to bear. But that requires leading disillusioned Democrats to believe she will deliver where Obama has failed — that she will (again) be a kind of co-president. Wasn’t that one of the reasons she didn’t make it onto the ticket with Obama in 2008?
OK, Democratic readers. Tell me why I’m wrong about this.
– By Kyle Wingfield