It has taken me some time but I have finally concluded Hillary Clinton should not seek -- nor accept, if offered -- the position of vice president. I know many Clinton supporters and sympathizers are almost begging Sen. Obama to make her his vice presidential choice. They feel like I felt: Because of her stellar campaign and the fact she won the Democratic popular vote -- and that she won the biggest states; the ones that one must win in order to win the Electoral College -- she deserved to be the vice president.
But the more I think about this the more I realize that this might not be the best of ideas. It's not that she is not qualified. Actually there probably is no more qualified democrat this election cycle than Hillary Clinton. Therein lies the issue for me: She might just be too qualified. When you think about how boring and uneventful the position of vice president is, why would some one as talented, knowledgeable, high-profile , experienced, task-oriented and goal-centric as Hillary Clinton is, want to be the veep? Why would she play second fiddle to someone who at one time, and I contend still does, idealized her and her husband, and who at one time had been a serious Clinton surrogate. It would be one of the most uncomfortable political marriages in American political history.
And besides, as John Nance Garner, 32nd vice president, once said: The vice presidency is, for all practical purposes, not worth "a bucket of warm spit!" It is generally reported that Lyndon B. Johnson said the same thing while serving under John F. Kennedy.
When Daniel Webster, one of the greatest senators of all time, was asked to be vice president to Zachary Taylor, he is supposed to have replied, "I do not want to be buried until I am dead." It was not even until Jimmy Carter was president that an office was provided for the vice president in the west wing. Carter made sure Walter Mondale not only was given an office, but was regularly informed on all issues of national and international interest. That was revolutionary; Harry Truman, as vice president to Franklin Roosevelt, was never even informed as to Roosevelt's plans for a post-war world. He knew nothing about the building of the atomic bomb until Roosevelt died suddenly and he was president only three months after becoming vice president.
There are many issues with Hillary becoming vice president.
A major one for me is that if anything happened to Obama, given the highly volatile primary election between Obama and the Clintons, the Clintons would be blamed.
And, given the rather silent and limited public nature of the position, it would stifle her personality and potential. Frankly she has too much to offer the country than to be regulated to the largely symbolic and ceremonial position of vice president.
And of course both of these people probably need time to heal the very public wounds which were inflicted by both sides against each other during this extraordinary and at times brutal election cycle.
What role would she play? She would definitely want to be more than just the spare, or as vice president Rockefeller once said, "standby equipment." Could she be an adviser? Would Obama feel comfortable always condescending to her advice, experience and knowledge? After all, she has been actively involved in politics for the last 40 years, her entire adult life. She knows just about every living world leader personally. As a Clinton, she has not lost an election since 1980. And she is married to arguably one of the smartest politicians alive.
One could say that by being vice president it would a springboard for her to the presidency in four or eight years. But given who she is and her accomplishments, I don't think she needs a springboard. She is already a bigger than life figure in this country. She is already one of the most admired women in America.
I thought that if Obama was down by 10 points in the polls come election time that he would need Hillary as V.P. to help him win, but he now leads McCain by double digits. I thought because of the historical nature of her campaign that she might at least deserved a consolation prize, but I have changed my mind on that one as well. While together they would be a force to be reckoned with, serving together would be an entirely different issue. Besides what would Obama do with former president Bill Clinton? As everyone knows, with the Clintons you always get two for the price of one!
Hillary would make a great attorney general. She would do wonders if given carte blanche with issues of health care. Actually she would do well with any domestic policy development. She would also be a great secretary of state given her knowledge of world affairs. But she would also do well as the Senate majority leader. She would make a great governor of New York. And if she continues in the Senate it is clear that she would be one of the most powerful senators this country has ever produced. She is in a league of her own.
If Obama is looking for a vice president, let me suggest Sen. James Webb of Virginia, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, or my long shot, the governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin.