Utne Blogs > Politics

Predicting Hillary

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: politics, Election '08, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, primaries, vice president,

Hillary Clinton
What’s next for Hillary? The blogosphere speculates:

Ben Smith over at Politico lays out the fallout from last night’s historic primary finale in broad strokes:

Clinton is the strongest runner-up in the history of Democratic politics, a status that gives her an unusual amount of leverage on her rival, Barack Obama. But she’s also hemmed in by the reality that to be seen as a half-hearted campaigner for Obama, or worse, as causing his defeat, would be political suicide.

She especially needs help restoring support from an African-American community that had been her base – assistance that can only come from Obama’s fulsome embrace. She could use Obama’s help raising money to retire her debts, something she signaled with an aggressive online appeal for cash last night. Her supporters assume she has earned the prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention that Obama can bestow.

Those around her say that beyond the mundane negotiating points – a half hour in Denver, help raising money – there is a more personal, less tangible demand that she be accorded the respect she feels she earned in an historic bid that brought her closer to the nomination than any other second-place Democratic finisher.

TPM Election Central has a handy little round-up charting which players are saying what about the VP question. As for Hillary’s non-VP options, Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish puts his money on a health czar–type position:

My bet: The presumptive nominee will publicly offer Senator Clinton the lead role in his administration for healthcare reform. He may have to doll up the title to make it appear grander than HHS but some kind of cabinet level health czar position might work. Her fallback position is to offer to spearhead the legislation in the Senate - why not name the bill after her? - and campaign on this subject for the ticket through the fall. Offering her healthcare may be too petty for her privately; but that's why it calls her bluff on the whole "I'm-just-doing-it-for-the-little-people" schtick. How can she be seen to treat healthcare reform as an insult to her stature? If it's her cause celebre, how can it be beneath her?

Fantasy Team Of Rivals time: Clinton gets healthcare; Edwards gets poverty; Gore gets the environment; the other Clinton is made secretary of state.

He can offer, can't he?

And here’s David Corn at MoJoBlog:

It could well be that party leaders--out of kindness, respect, and worry (over whether her supporters will eventually swing behind Obama)--afford Clinton a few days to process her defeat. After all, this historic race was damn close, as so few nomination contests are. But this is politics, not therapy. So the grace period won't be long.

Understandably, the Senator from New York who almost became the first woman to win a major party's presidential nomination has put off this decision for as long as she could. And her performance in the final weeks of the campaign has strengthened her future presidential prospects. Should Obama lose to McCain, Clinton and her supporters could use these late-contest wins to bolster an I-told-you-so argument that would come in handy for the 2012 campaign. But if she does not play nice soon, she puts her future within the party at great risk.

As for myself, I’m having a tough time even conceiving of Hillary as the VP nominee. My thoughts are too clouded by resentments at all the underhanded and potentially damaging jabs she’s thrown at Obama and all the political maneuvering she and her surrogates are orchestrating right now. I do think, though, that it’s important to take a step back and consider the plain question of whether or not she’d be a good vice president. You wouldn’t know it from her campaign, but way back before Election ’08 got rolling, the woman was well respected for her expert maneuvering in the Senate, how she nurtured people’s trust, built consensus, and crafted meaningful legislation. And Bosnia trip or no, she does have important foreign policy experience and knowledge. Call me naïve, but I think it would be interesting to have a conversation not about what her candidacy as vice president would mean politically, but what it would mean qualitatively. 

Image by Nrbelex, licensed under Creative Commons.