Friday, May 28, 2010

Vice President Hillary Clinton?

Reading tea leaves is not science. And what I'm about to discuss is an epic tea-leaf read. But it could make for an interesting strategy for 2012. Suspend a little disbelief and read on.

Here's the background. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hasn't spoken much on domestic policy since she took the foreign affairs gig. For someone so vocal during the campaign, it's been clear she's purposely sticking to her charter and staying out of domestic affairs.

Yesterday, according to Ben Smith at, Hillary spoke to the Brookings Institution on national security strategy. That's exactly what you'd expect from SecState.

But then she took an interesting foray into domestic affairs by saying, "The rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing the kind of employment issues..."

The comment itself is what got Politico's attention, but her rare move into domestic policy is what caught mine. Although Mrs. Clinton prefaced her statement by saying it was her personal opinion, that made it even more interesting.

Why would she say such a thing when she's been so disciplined about her messaging? Especially with China and Korea heating up, the Middle East still simmering, and all sorts of other threats and risks across the world - why would she move to the topic of wealth disparity?

Well, here's one idea. What if she's getting ready to go back on the domestic stage? How could it possibly make sense for her or for President Obama?

Here's how: Obama/Clinton 2012.

Think about it. For many true believers, it was the dream team to end all dream teams in 2008, but instead Barack chose Biden. There were many reasons, including Biden's clear foreign policy experience. But another was Obama really couldn't take a chance on being upstaged by Hillary before he'd proven he could be President. And then, of course, there was the Bill Factor.

But all that's changed now. Obama's been President and he's 99.9% likely to be the Democratic candidate in 2012.

Joe Biden hasn't distinguished himself - he hasn't hurt himself much, but he also hasn't been a standout either. As much respect and affection as I have for Joe, he doesn't add anything to a 2012 ticket - and you know 2012 is going to be the battle to end all battles.

Plus, Mr. Biden's recently had some pretty serious challenges with the failing health of his son.

Finally, Biden's not likely to be a serious candidate for the top office in 2016. He just doesn't have the brand power and so he’s unlikely to be the heir apparent.

Here, then, are three solid reasons why Joe probably shouldn't be on the 2012 ticket: 1) he doesn't add anything in an election where every advantage is needed, 2) he's got family health issues that are probably sapping his attention and energy, and 3) he's not going to be able to carry the torch in 2016.

But if Biden shouldn't be in the veep slot for 2012, who should be?

What about Hillary?

First, who (after Obama) has more star power in the Democratic party than Hillary? Not Nancy Pelosi. Not Harry Reid. Hillary.

Next, who can bring more juice, excitement, and support to a party that's kind of lost some of its juice and excitement? Not Pelosi. Not Reid. Not some governor from the sticks. Hillary.

What if Sarah Palin is nominated on the GOP side? She'd automatically grab a lot of the women's vote. Who can counter that, has comparable star power, and also show a tangible difference between "momma grizzly" and world-wide policy experience? Hillary.

And, finally, what if Obama's numbers go low enough that another Democrat tries to unseat him in the primaries? Is there any Democrat who stands even a tiny chance? Yep. Only one. Hillary.

Here we have some very compelling reasons for Hillary on the ticket. 1) she has star power, 2) she can bring excitement and loyalty back to the party, 3) she adds the women's vote element, 4) she has wide foreign policy experience, and 5) she could otherwise be a possible competitor.

Finally, which Democrat has the best chance to win in 2016, at least based on today's information? Hillary.

If Biden were out and Hillary were in, an Obama/Hillary ticket would make for a very interesting campaign season. Plus, there'd be Bill. Every election's tons more fun with Bill involved.

Like I said at the beginning of this piece, I'm only reading tea leaves.

Credits: David Gewirtz, AC360, CNN

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