Monday, June 02, 2008

Why Obama should not pick Clinton as VP

The suggestion has been around for ages - a dream ticket for some, a nightmare for others.

An Obama/Clinton ticket.

Recently I've been getting a wee bit worried that Obama might actually be considering it - and idea which absolutely horrifies me, because I think it will seriously damage his chances of beating McCain in November.

This is why:

Obama has run on the message of "change". This is a fundamental element of his campaign and of his presidency. Clinton, in contrast, has run on the "experience" ticket, and has even gone so far as to say that she believes that she and McCain both have a lifetime of experience which they will bring to the WH whereas Obama has "a speech he gave in 2002".

Clinton is a classic example of old-guard Washington, the very thing which Obama has been campaigning against so strongly. Having her on the ticket would undercut his message of change.

Obama has campaigned strongly to remove the influence of lobbyists in Washington. He refuses to take money from lobbyists - to the extent of returning their money to them if they contribute to his campaign. Clinton, on the other hand, has accepted plenty of money from lobbyists and has said she will continue to do so as they "represent real Americans".

Having Clinton (and her lobbyists) on the ticket would seriously undermine Obama's anti-lobbying message.

Whether a deliberate part of her campaign strategy, or simply mis-speaking by Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and her surrogates such as Geraldine Ferraro; the perception is certainly there amongst many people (both African Americans and whites alike) that her campaign has played the race card on more than one occasion.

Aside from the obvious irony that Obama is part African-American and that Clinton would be running alongside him as VP having been perceived as using the race card against him, I'm concerned that this might have a negative impact on some people who would otherwise vote for Obama. Put simply, I feel that some people who were offended by her perceived racism would be less likely to vote for Obama if Clinton were on the ticket, than if she were not.

This campaign has been undeniably negative in parts, with Clinton in particular having said a whole lot of negative things about Obama. I can see the Republicans using this as a major part of their strategy in the run-up to the General Election. I believe they would pull up every negative comment Clinton has made, and use it relentlessly against an Obama/Clinton ticket in the fall. I can see it now!

Obama is not a Muslim "as far as I know..."; Clinton and McCain offer a lifetime of experience blah blah (they'll have that one up on an endless loop!); the whole "Obama can't win the white vote" spin; denouncing and rejecting Farrakhan (because simply doing one of the other just isn't enough for Hillary); not to mention harping on about Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, the "bitter" comment and much, much more.

I think it would be incredibly destructive for Obama to pick Clinton for VP after all the negativity she has thrown at him. I think it hands the Republicans their main anti-Democratic advertising on a plate, and brings no benefits to Obama in this regard.

Clinton came into this race with huge negatives. In a Harris Interactive poll in March 2007, 50% of voting-age adults said that they would not vote for her. In March 2008 a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll put her negatives at 48 percent - the highest in that poll since March 2001. Just 37 percent had a positive view of Clinton, whereas Obama's approval rating had remained virtually unchanged at 49 percent. Only 32 percent of Americans gave him a negative approval rating in this poll.

The early negatives are not necessarily Clinton's fault - years of vitriolic attacks on her by the Republicans ever since Bill first arrived in the White House have taken their toll - but certainly the more recent ones appear to be as a direct result of her negative attacks on Obama.

My fear, should she be selected to run as VP, is that a number of apathetic and/or disaffected Republicans would be motivated to come out and vote against her. I believe there's a large sub-group of Republicans who aren't that keen on McCain, but who really, really dislike Clinton. If she were on the ticket, I believe these people would come out for the pleasure of voting against her, whereas if she were not on the ticket, they wouldn't bother voting.

I also think there's another group of Republicans whom Obama would lose if he had Clinton on the ticket with him. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence to show that some Republicans will be voting Democratic this year because they're sick of Bush (and see McCain as continuing Bush's legacy) AND they have been inspired by Obama and specifically Obama to cross over and vote for him. If Clinton's part of the deal, I think we'd see a lot less of them coming over to vote for Obama. I just think that having to vote for Clinton as well would be too much of a stretch for some of them, given the history of Republican dislike for the Clintons.

And finally... the Iraq war. In a May 8-12 poll, 62% of Americans polled felt that war on Iraq was the wrong thing for the US to do, and 70% wanted to either withdraw now, or set a timetable for withdrawal.

There's a very big difference between Obama and Clinton on the war on Iraq. Clinton voted for the war (without reading the NIE Report) - and has since refused to apologise for that vote. She voted for Kyl-Lieberman. She threatened to "obliterate Iran" if they launched an attack on Israel (conveniently ignoring the fact that Iran has no nuclear weapons and Israel has a whole bunch, even if they won't admit to having them).

Obama, on the other hand (as Clinton loves to remind us), has a speech he gave in 2002. Here it is (re-created by Obama supporters):

Obama has opposed the war on Iraq from the beginning. He has continually spoken out against it, even at a time when it was extremely unpopular to do so.

This position against the Iraq war puts him in a very strong position against McCain in November, particularly in the light of McCain's comments about staying for 100 years (or more) in Iraq and his "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" song. The war is extremely unpopular. Most Americans want out, and now believe the US should never have been there in the first place.

With Clinton on the ticket with Obama, this strong point of difference between Democrats and Republicans is drastically blurred, and would severely limit Obama's ability to fight McCain on the issue of the war against Iraq - or the Republicans' continued threats against Iran.

I'm terribly concerned that Obama - being the uniter that he is - will include Clinton on his ticket as VP, aiming to show how much they have in common against a common enemy, etc etc blah blah blah. I'm hugely worried about the impact this would have on the voting in November.

I'm bloody angry at the fact that it feels to me as though those Clinton supporters (encouraged by Clinton) who threatened to hold their breath until they got their way might get their way and in the process destroy the Democrats' ability to win in November.

I'm bloody angry at Clinton for having spent the past 6 months attacking Obama instead of attacking McCain. I'm very worried right now that this is finally having an impact on Obama's numbers, and that somehow Clinton will either snatch the nomination from under his nose, or that she will continue to attack him until November, rendering him incapable of beating McCain.

And I'm now very worried that, because he's such a good guy who wants to work together with everyone and build bridges, he'll take that to its logical conclusion and pick Hillary as VP. And then they'll both lose.

I'm praying he proves me wrong.

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Tony LaRocca said...

I love the unspoken "Make me your VP or I and my legion of followers won't support you," threat in Hillary's statement. Obama would be insane to even consider it after she ran such a nasty, self-serving, self-victimizing campaign. Alone, he might have a chance. However, such a "dream ticket" would galvanize fence-sitters to vote for McCain, who despite the lame "McSame" tag, is the most moderate republican in ages (so far.)

webweaver said...

Hear! Hear!

I absolutely agree with you Tony!

sweeterthan said...

Obama may be a "good guy," but he's also very SMART. He'll use Hillary, as she makes good on her promise to wholeheartedly support the nominee, to reach those elderly voters as much as possible (who grew up in a time when the only thing that a black man was good for them was to shine their shoes), hispanics, and with John Edwards' help - and Bill stumping in rural areas -(as long as he can be muzzled from angry outbursts) - white working class voters, and she can try to help to reign in her league of ovarian fans (and I am a woman) who wish to vote against their/our own self interests by entertaining the notion of defecting to nonfeminist McCain. Obama probably did pretty well on his own with Jewish voters after his speech at AIPAC. Then, after Hillary has served her purpose towards getting him elected, he'll probably choose a female V.P. (like Claire McCaskill or Kathleen Sebelius) to appease those Democratic females who INSIST that a woman must be in the White House in some major capacity RIGHT NOW, or else, for bi-partisan appeal - and to cut into McCain's moderate/independent base, while shoring up defense against charges of inexperience and lack of military expertise - he'll choose Jim Webb or Chuck Hagel I think. Bob Barr and Ron Paul will do the work for him of cutting into Mccain's conservative base, who may otherwise stay him this election cycle, sit this one out, and not vote. Why make Hillary V.P., when he can get two for the price of one? He already withstood their hostile hostage-taking type threats expressed in their PETITION to have her selected as V.P. Her aggressively campaigning for him pretty much gets him what pros/positives for him that her being on the ticket would, without dragging her cons/negatives into it, in such a way as to doom the ticket to loss in the Nov. General Election. Plus, she and Bill tend to be a "package deal." I don't see much place for Bill Clinton in an Obama adminstration if he wants any credibility with Republicans. My 2 cents