Editorial: Obama. Clinton Not Match Made In Heaven

This story was written by Editorial Board, The Daily Universe


In many ways, it would be the Democratic dream ticket. A black man and a woman, the two largest minorities in the United States, both wanting to end a Republican's war and unify the party. But combining Sen. Barack Obama with Sen. Hillary Clinton wouldn't really unify the party, nor would it be a good idea for anyone.

Hillary Clinton is a center-stage player. Her track record shows she would rather gather support than play the supporting role herself. She's the star, and as such is a shrewd politician on her constituency's issues and her own. The last time she played co-star was during her husband's presidency, but not again since.

The odds of this kind of politician settling gently into Obama's core support group are microscopic. Clinton is a primary player, and as a vice president would constantly be trying to upstage her counterpart and superior. She's been in politics too long, fought too hard for the nomination and gathered too strong a support group to take a backseat now.

Many of her supporters feel the same way. ABC exit polls in six of the last seven primaries show 60 percent of Clinton's supporters would be unsatisfied if Obama won the nomination. Much of middle-class Democratic America loves Hillary, and they love the idea of Hillary getting a lot of power to make things happen. They love her history and her strong political roots - her experience. Some even love her husband.

For the same reasons, many of them don't love Obama: He lacks a strong history in politics or any track record that would guarantee him coming through on his word. Even if Clinton were to stand behind him, many of her supporters would be unsatisfied if she weren't at the top of the ticket. It might unify the party in terms of a single nominee, but more realistically, it would draw the division more internally into the Democratic Party.

On one hand, there's the presidential candidate trying to bring in the winds of change and make history. On the other, the vice presidential candidate upstaging him. Ideally they would work together, but the struggle for the nomination has been too long and divided for them to fold nicely together into the picturesque presidential package. That kind of tension between the support groups of the president and vice president has not been a major issue since the 1800 election when the vice president was the candidate who received the second-most votes.

But most importantly, Clinton as the vice president would hurt Obama more than it would help him. Not only would he constantly have to worry about his well-loved and famous vice president, he would have to come up with a new catch phrase too.

Obama's biggest selling point to supporters has been his idea of change - time to bring new faces to Washington who will listen to the people. Hence his tag line, "Change is coming to America." That means out with the old and in with the new.

As a remnant of the ruling elite and with a name that equals political power and prestige, Clinton is exactly the type of person Obama supporters think of when he talks about new faces in Washington. She's been there and done that for longer than any candidate but John McCain (who has admitted he's older than dirt). She's not change, she's not a new face, and if Obama added her to his campaign he'd be making his promise of change hypocritical.

So why add her? It would not make Clinton happy since it would be beneath her, it would not make her followers happy since it would not be Clinton on the top of the ballot, and it would not help Obama to add to his campaign the very type of person and tradition he claims to be fighting.

But maybe Obama will bend to pressure and add an old face like Clinton to his campaign, tw things he's promised to never do. After all, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
  • CBSNews

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