Thursday, November 08, 2007

Need a VP? Barack's The Man For the Job

Obama's mastery of Senate precedents a key skill for Vice President

If one takes polls at face value, there's little question about it: Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democrats' presidential nominee.

She leads her nearest competitor, Barack Obama, by a margin of 44 to 25 percent.

As such, it's probably unsurprising that Clinton has begun searching for a running mate. However, she's had less luck than a politician in her situation should have finding one: her ascendency to presidential candidate is almost assured, and she's almost guaranteed a massive advantage over whomever her Republican opponent would be.

Yet, Senator Joe Biden has, surprisingly, turned Clinton down.

"If I don't win the nomination, the likely nominee is going to be Hillary," Biden, a fellow presidential nominee, said. "And I love Bill Clinton, but can you imagine being vice president?"

Biden currently polls at 3%. Call him brave, call him optimistic, just don't call him opportunistic.

Beyond that, Biden has said he would prefer to continue serving as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden has also noted that Bill Clinton would likely be an omnipresent, overpowering influence in a Hillary Clinton White House (insert sexist who-wears-the-pants-in-the-family joke here). Not to mention Al Gore creeping around every other corner. Perhaps not the most secure position for a Vice President.

This, of course, leaves Hillary Clinton in search of a new running mate, and she shouldn't look any further than her most immediate (however remote) threat -- Massachusetts Senator Barack Obama.

There are many reasons why Obama would make an excellent Vice President (perhaps even a better VP than President).

First off, the buzz surrounding Clinton and Obama would be positively huge. Hell, even Fidel Castro says he has goosebumps at the very thought of it.

Historically, a Democrat's choice for Vice President has turned out to be more important than a Republican's, as a Democrat Vice President has proven more likely (at least in more recent history) to have to take over the Presidency. To this end, the Democratic party would be better off to have its number-two contender serve in the role. If he were forced to assume the presidency, Obama could continue to capture the imagination of Americans in the same vital way he and Clinton do.

Most importantly, however, one of the Vice President's most important jobs is to preside over the Senate.

Obama has spent a good deal of his Senatorial career familiarizing himself with Senate precedents -- which one senior Democratic senator once described to him as "the keys to the kingdom". That alone would make him a force to be reckoned with as Vice President.

There is, of course, the argument that having Obama as a running mate would hurt her ability to attract voters from fickle conservative voters who prefer to vote for white males. This in itself is a silly argument, and for obvious reasons. Not only are the Democrats unlikely to attract these voters, but Clinton herself doubly so.

By running with a black man as her running mate, however, Clinton could reap the benefits of having the force of history as a "third running mate". There would be vast appeal to many voters knowing that not only could they elect America's first woman president, but also its first black vice president.

Of course, this argument is no less fickle than the previous. The difference for Clinton, however, is that it remains pertinent.

In the face of an ongoing campaign, Clinton may not yet be ready to admit that she needs Barack Obama. But she does.

Of course, the greater challenge may be convincing Obama to quit his campaign prematurely; something he would be doing no matter how unlikely the prospects of him closing a 19-point gap between himself and Clinton are.

In other words, both candidates would need to swallow their pride a little bit. The benefits of doing so are very tangible inded.

The greater question is whether or not the're willing to do it.

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