On Hillary Clinton’s 2012 Political Options

It’s August. Political reporters need something to write about.

So why not write about the 2012 election? How else to explain the sudden flurry of articles — with this one from Politics Daily a typical example — speculating on Hillary Clinton’s plans for 2012? Or, this article which suggests that Clinton will stage a primary challenge in 2012?

And here I was, thinking all the fun was on the Republican side. As weak as the field looks today — Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and a few others — I suspect that the ultimate Republican nominee in 2012 will be as surprising as Bill Clinton’s nomination in 1992 was; it’s going to be a surprisingly left-field choice from a field of weak and thin candidates. I suspect that someone like Liz Cheney has a real shot in 2012.

I digress. Back to Democratic speculations.

Would Barack Obama really ditch Joe Biden as Vice President? Biden does have a reputation as a gaffe-master. And CNN is running a poll on it, not that that means anything.

Would Hillary Clinton really give up Foggy Bottom to take the most thankless position in the federal government? A writer for Newsweek thinks not, and gives some of the reasons. The Atlantic rounds up some of the thinking on the subject, both pro and con. Even FOX News thinks it’s possible.

Also, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is a liberal conspiracy against Jesus. Nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s political future; I just thought I’d toss out that little piece of whatthefuckery.

My take?

I’ve long thought (going all the way back to 2008) that Clinton should end her political career as a Supreme Court justice. I’ve thought that she will remain as Secretary of State until the first Supreme Court opening in Obama’s second term, whereupon he will nominate her at that time. That would give Clinton a full four years-plus to put her stamp on American foreign policy, and with that challenge done she could turn her formidable intellect toward the great legal questions of our time.

If Clinton were to become Obama’s Vice President in 2012, however, that vision of Clinton’s political future goes out the door. Why? Because she would instantly become the heir apparent in 2016. She would be 69 years old, except that a lot of people are expecting her to run in 2016 irregardless of her age.

But 2016 is six years out. What about two years out?

Well, take that FOX news report I mentioned above. “Joe Biden brought the aura of experience to the 2008 ticket. His subsequent series of gaffes has since undermined his stature. In any case his appeal was never very broad. He was a low-risk non-combatant who fit Hollywood?s image of a senior statesman.” Okay, but what does Clinton bring to the ticket that Biden doesn’t? “To excite those liberals disappointed that Obama has not tackled many of their core concerns — chiefly cap-and-trade and immigration — the president will need a fresh start. Hillary Clinton could provide the juice he needs.” And that’s not a bad reason. Subtracting Biden and adding Clinton would pull the ticket to the left.

Considering Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ outburst a few days ago about the “professional left” and their unhappiness with the President, it’s clear that President Obama has a problem on his left flank, and taking those voters for granted could result in them staying at home instead of voting. Clinton, who ran to Obama’s left two years ago, could counteract that perception.

However, I think that putting Clinton on the ticket would be solely a perceptual/symbolic change. Hillary Clinton could very well be put on the ticket, but at the end of the day it would be Obama calling the shots. I don’t expect Obama to move much to the left, if at all, in a second term. It’s not his style. He was never as liberal or as progressive as his most fervid supporters proclaimed, and the problems with Obama’s governance isn’t that he’s not progressive but that he’s not living up to his own campaign rhetoric of becoming an agent for change.

And I think that Hillary Clinton is canny enough to recognize that replacing Joe Biden on the ticket in two years wouldn’t really mean anything for her. She would remain a front-runner in 2016, unless she’s nominated for the Supreme Court in the interim.

I don’t expect a change from Obama/Biden. I think the chattering classes simply need something to chatter about these days. :)

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