The Logic Behind the “Vice President Clinton” Meme

11 01 2012

Happy New Year, now let’s talk politics, specifically that long forgotten subject – Democratic politics.

ImageOk, maybe forgotten is pushing it a bit too far, but with the Republican primary process well and truly underway and the incumbent Democratic president running unchallenged, there’s not much for us on the left to do politically except remark on the dog and pony show of ultra-conservatism that’s bumbling its way around the country. I suppose that it’s that kind of party boredom that’s mostly to blame for this kind of story, but there might just be more to it. The latest incarnation of the “Hillary for VP” meme comes from a New York Times opinion piece by Bill Keller published Monday and another in the Washington Post by Suzi Parker from yesterday. The points they makes are much the same as in most of the other renditions of this tune that’s been playing off and on almost since this administration began, but there has been a decidedly different reaction to the notion of Secretary Clinton and Vice President Biden switching places this time around. It’s no longer treated as some crazy idea being floated by Clinton diehards (highly unlikely) or desperate Obama fans (also ridiculous) that has no basis in reality let alone fact. Monday night this opinion piece was discussed all over the place on cable news in spite of it being the day before the New Hampshire primary and discussed with some degree of seriousness albeit prefaced by numerous “this will never happen”-type comments. The truth is that, no matter how unlikely the scenario, you never know. I mean, did you think that the question of whether or no states can ban contraception would be a question in this year’s presidential primary debates at this time four years ago?

“Ok, so it’s a thing, but why and how would it work?” you ask. Well, even though I’m in no way involved in national politics or punditry (Not that I wouldn’t like to be, in case anyone in those fields is looking to hire. 🙂 ), I have just as good an imagination as the rest of them, so, if you would like, let’s take a stroll around Speculationville. We’ll start with the “why”.

2008 was the year of Hope and Change. The nation was weary of war and increasingly unnerved by the steepening decline in our economy. People were looking for something fresh and optimistic – a feel good candidate – and they found that in the calm persona of “No Drama Obama”. There is, however, a downside to being seen as Mr. Cool and that’s running the risk of looking too ‘on point’ and scripted. Obama needed a foil that brought a more approachable, down to earth ‘average Joe’ quality to the ticket and they got just that in an ever likable, if chronically gaffe-prone, senator from Delaware by the name of Joe Biden. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the past four years, the mood of the country has shifted. Our idealistic search for something new has given way to old cries, from the eighties and even earlier, of “fat cats” and “corporate greed” versus a shrinking middle class and growing number of people on some form of government assistance leading some candidates to insinuate that these lower-income people are lazy. It’s all remarkably similar to the Reagan era arguments about “welfare Queens” and the financial culture of hostile takeovers and Gordon Gekko types running the show on Wall St. At the same time we have seen the rise of the Tea Party culminating in the Great Butt-Kicking of 2010 which flipped the balance of power in the House of Representatives and shifted the political dialogue of the entire country well to the right of anywhere I’ve ever seen it. The moderates, Republican and Democrat alike, were excised in favor of more partisan candidates and the resulting Congress has been deadlocked ever since. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve almost-but-not-quite shut down the government. Is it four times now? Six? I don’t remember.

So this year is shaping up to be a Smackdown election worthy of a Pay Per View cage match and the respective political parties are looking for prize fighters. The Republicans are looking for a defender of tax cuts and a champion of smaller government and business interests. The Democrats are looking for fighter for workers and the middle class and a protector of programs that they see as vital. What Democrats have is a very mellow, professorial president with an affable everyman as his VP. The Republicans are searching and re-searching their candidate field in the vain hope that one of their potential nominees is the much longed for second coming of Ronald Reagan and Democrats are kind of left to pine for their second coming of FDR.

The Democratic presidential candidate is decided by default, or should I say incumbency, but there is still that unfulfilled desire for a fighter. Someone who will have no problem going a couple of rounds with the Republicans on the Hill, conservative pundits, or maybe both at once without flinching. Joe Biden, as likable as he is, doesn’t strike most people as a tough guy, so regardless of the good job he’s done, he’s not necessarily what a lot of Democrats are looking for this time around. If there is one thing that Hillary Clinton is known for, it is her strength and her tenacity and throughout her time as both a political spouse and a political figure in her own right she has never, ever had any problems with taking it to Republicans at all. There was one instance during one of her husband’s gubernatorial races when she crashed a press conference his opponent was holding to criticize the then Governor for being out of state and Mrs. Governor Clinton took him on herself. I don’t think anyone has any doubt that she’d know how to handle these tea folk and that’s why I think this rumor never quite goes away. The fact that she’s the most popular government figure in the country right now doesn’t hurt either.

The mechanics of how a Biden/Clinton switch would happen takes us deeper into the realm of completely unsubstantiated guessing games. It’s worth noting that removing Biden from the ticket does have some serious drawbacks. Just look at the coverage the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley got even though it was primary time in New Hampshire. That would increase exponentially if it were Joe Biden that was on his way out, even if it was just to head down to Foggy Bottom. Coverage like that is rarely a net positive. It would look bad to demote someone who has been such a loyal and hardworking member of the administration. It could also be spun out as a sort of Hail Mary play by a desperate candidate and put the new Obama/Clinton campaign on the defensive from the get go.

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that the administration had weighed their options and decided that the switch was both possible and worth the risk. Hillary Clinton would have to leave the State Department before the swap was announced because, by law, a Secretary of State can not play a role in domestic politics. Her pretext for doing so is anyone’s guess, but it would not be due to any difference of opinion between her and the White House, obviously. She’s mentioned retirement enough that an announcement to that effect might be the way she’d go, take a couple of months off to rally her people, and then, on some beautiful afternoon in the Rose Garden, there she’d be – as Barack Obama’s new running mate. Immediately the question would be raised – the question that is always raised where Hillary Clinton is concerned. What about Bill?

In the years since he left office, Bill Clinton has become an elder statesman par excellence. His foundation is involved in numerous charitable endeavors the world over and his annual Clinton Global Initiative event is such a big deal that he has to hold it on the same week as the UN General Assembly so as to be more convenient for his international attendees who are going to the UN anyway. He also has a Global Initiative specifically for undergrad and graduate students interested in NGO work which his daughter play a significant role in. He was named the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy to Haiti after that country was decimated by an earthquake. He has appeared several times in support of the President’s economic agenda and has proven to be a rather good surrogate seeming to have learned from his mistakes in his wife’s presidential bid. He has also written two books. In short, he’s got a lot going on and some of that work might present a conflict of interest if his wife was the vice presidential nominee. He had to make significant changes in order for her to become Secretary of State and I imagine that he would have to make more if she was second in line to run the country. My feeling is that he’d leave most of the foundation’s operations in someone else’s hands. In addition to getting rid of any perceived conflicts, it would also be a sort of trial run for the organization to see how it would operate when Bill Clinton retires. During this time the foundation could be prepared to run for decades and become a part of Bill Clinton’s legacy as opposed to his pet project. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the globe-trotting former president held a press conference, heaped praise upon his wife, headed out on the campaign trail, and then to DC. His elder statesman skills might come in handy and he could prove to be an asset to the administration, a kind of Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary’s FDR.

I’ll end my completely amateur, uninformed, armchair analysis by saying that this whole thing is about as likely as me appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition… or voting Republican. It’s all conjecture and the conjecture of someone with no inside information, but I’ve heard too much about this idea being entirely bogus and it’s not. It’s certainly unlikely, but it’s not bogus and that’s why I sketched it out this way. Hillary Clinton would be good for Barack Obama in the same way that New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie is such a good surrogate for Mitt Romney, another “Mr. Cool, Calm, and Collected”. She is a veteran of many partisan fights and would make a good “Iron Lady for the Middle Class” if that’s what the administration thinks they need in 2012. I think this issue is hinged on what the traveling circus that is the Republican primary constructs for a message and a ticket. If it’s something like Romney/Christie, there might be a new, and yet very familiar, running mate for the President.

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Wedding Season Political Junkie Style

13 07 2011

There are a few things that are clear this fine summer evening – we are in the midst of “wedding season” and that our politicians will fight rather than compromise on any issue, however large or small, for as long as they can stretch it out. Seriously, House of Representatives?! Light bulbs?! Pictures are fun (especially while I sort out a more substantial post), so I’ve combined these two topics for your amusement. Here are a collection of wedding pictures of people who would be political players some day.

John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Is there any picture of them that doesn’t look like a scene from a movie?

I couldn’t find a picture of Lyndon and “Lady Bird” Johnson’s wedding, but this them as newlyweds.

I’m not posting a picture of the Nixons’ wedding because I didn’t find one. This is a photo of them dancing at their daughter Tricia’s White House wedding.

I did find a photo of Gerald and Betty Ford on their wedding day. How ’bout those socks, huh?

This is Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter and they look about fourteen. It’s kind of creepy.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan cutting the cake. Nancy Reagan’s hat reminds me of Princess Leia’s hair. Just thought I’d share that observation.

George and Barbara Bush. It seems odd seeing them as young people.

You can’t mention the name “Clinton” and the word “marriage” without pissing someone off, so I’ll say as little as possible on the topic. The bride’s hairstyle is a bit much, but it was the seventies so I can’t hold the fro against her.

Bush wedding 2: The Dubya edition.

Barack and Michelle Obama have supplied the cutest photo of this post.

There’s not much in the way of non-Presidential political wedding photos (as it should be, frankly), but I looked anyway because I saw this one in a political ad and wanted to have a reason to add it. Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate wins the award for most awkward looking groom, but we are a country that has elected some odd-looking gentlemen.

This is Mitt Romney before he looked like what designers at Mattel would create to fill a box with the word ‘President” on it.

As a sort of flashback, this is John and Cindy McCain.

When Nancy Pelosi was poised to begin her four-year stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a lot of biographical pieces were done on her and this photo is from one of them.

I will end this rose petal-sprinkled wander through recent political history with this photo of Texas governor Rick Perry. So far he just the Republican governor of Texas, but the are presidential campaign rumblings once again coming from the Lonestar State. I think we’ll soon be seeing much more of him.

Enjoy the wedding season/political spitball war that is this summer!





A Brief Note on the Great American Wedding

1 08 2010

In case you’ve been hiding in a cave or lost at sea all week, I’ll fill you in. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former president Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, got married yesterday to her longtime boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, in Rhinebeck, NY and the whole country is talking about it. The total cost, which designer’s gown the bride would be wearing, and the guest list were sources of speculation for weeks and nearly everyone from style columnists to world news organizations to blogs devoted to the possibility of a “Hillary 2012” presidential run all had something to say about the event. Rhinebeck took all of the hullabaloo in stride and seemed to throw a party of its own in honor of the bride and groom.

In the end, the ceremony was not as opulent or star-studded as some had claimed. The bride wore a gown by Vera Wang. Her mother’s dress was by Oscar de la Renta. Chelsea’s 92-year-old grandmother, seen in the background of the photo above with her daughter, the Secretary of State, also looked great and earns a mention for no other reason than she is the bride’s grandmother and must have been very happy for her. Actually, aside from a few notables like Ted Danson and Madeleine Albright, the guests were unknown to the general public – family, friends, and co-workers of the bride and groom. No Oprah. No big political donors. No random stars. This was not about the bride’s famous parents. This was, as a wedding ought to be, about the bride and groom and everyone looked thrilled for them except one person at one moment. Walking his only child down the aisle, the former president vaguely resembled a man being lead to a firing squad, but I think that’s par for the course for fathers of brides. In this article from the New York Post, the Secretary of State/Mother of the Bride made some comments on this very thing.

“You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece it’s a major accomplishment,” Hillary Clinton said of her husband in comments to NBC broadcast Monday from Pakistan.
“He is going to be so emotional, as am I, but we’re both looking forward to it and very happy about it,” she said.

Mission accomplished, Mr. President.

Weddings are always optimistic affairs. They’re full of hope for the future regardless of who’s getting married. I think the national fascination with the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding is actually good for the Great American Psyche particularly now in the midst of a miserable recession, two long, costly wars, and millions of other more personal problems for those that were paying attention to the news for details of the marriage of two young people in Rhinebeck. The pre-wedding rumors were fairly innocuous considering what has been said about the Clintons over the past twenty years or so. It was mostly about the cost of the event and which rich and famous people would be there. The media coverage was pretty mainstream as opposed to photographers trying to climb fences or repel down from trees – generally a bad idea when the Secret Service is on patrol. Several photos and a statement were released promptly by the family following the ceremony to give the country its fix so those in attendance could party the night away in relative peace. This is that statement which I took from here.

“Today we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends,” the Clintons said in a statement. “We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family.”

Everyone seemed to respect the views of everyone else. The people of Rhinebeck made a sizable deal out of playing host to what some are calling the wedding of the year but, in the end, they left the family and other guests as alone as they are ever allowed to be. The media didn’t invade Astor Courts , the wedding venue, and the Clintons and Mezvinskys understood and accepted the curiosity of a generally well-intentioned public. The day was beautiful and everything went well and all that’s left to say is congratulations and best wishes to the bride, groom, and their newly-united family.





Bon Voyage, Team USA!

28 05 2010

The US World Cup team visited the White House today for a meeting with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Bill Clinton who is Honorary Chairman of the USA Bid for the 2018 or 2022 World cup. (I posted about it here.) They posed for pictures under the North Portico. Truthfully, I have very little faith in our team’s chances – their first match is against England on June 12th – but I wish them all the best of luck even though I will be cheering, quite loudly as a matter of fact, for Italy. Joe Biden is planning to be at their first game and President Obama says he’ll be watching on TV. So, what stunning world of wisdom did Mr. Clinton have to impart on this occasion? He said he liked the team’s tan dress shoes. *Sigh*

Here is an article about the event and I’ve found a video of the send-off.

And, since I love pictures, I’ve found some of the event… and the shoes.

And, as promised, the shoes that all the boys in DC are talking about.





Because the World Cup is About to Start – Great Soccer Pics – Politicians

20 05 2010

It almost World Cup time and I cannot wait. I love it. I have created my first of at least two soccer picture montages. Here is what passes for soccer in the political sphere. Some do better than others.

Nelson Mandela

Pictured here in Switzerland in 2004 after the announcement of South Africa winning the bid to host the 2010 World Cup.

Gordon Brown

For someone who always looks like he’s about to fall asleep, he does alright.

Barack Obama

OK, so he’s no Pele. At least he gives it a try.

Michelle Obama

Looks to have more soccer skills than her husband.

Dmitri Medvedev

Not too bad.

David Cameron

He seems to be settling in nicely.

Nicolas Sarkozy

He always looks a little awkward.

Evo Morales

The President of Bolivia actually plays on a local team.

Angela Merkel

Apparently quite the fan, Angela Merkel was quoted in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup as saying that she “had arranged her schedule so that she could watch any match Germany plays, including the final.” Hmmmm… yeah… about that… VIVA AZZURRI!

Tony Blair

Looks good by politician standards… until he tries to kick a ball.

The G5

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, South African President Jacob Zuma, and Chinese State Counsellor Dai Bingguo pose with autographed Brazilian national team jerseys.

Joe Biden

He looks lost – like someone handed him that ball and said “Here, hold this and smile.” Still, he gets credit from this soccer fan for even being there. I don’t see Rahm Emanuel, Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton, or anyone else in the administration out there, do you? Incidentally, I will be very disappointed if someone doesn’t pick up a soccer ball – or better yet, kick it – for a photo-op between now and the end of the World Cup.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Because idiots play, too.

Silvio Berlusconi

He can give soccer part of the credit for being in office today. He’s President of AC Milan – a well-known team even here in the US – and used the name recognition it gave him to launch a political career which has now made him President of Italy.

Bill Clinton

Pictured here in 1997 getting a lesson from Brazilian soccer legend Pelé. He looks very silly, but he gets credit for trying and also for trying to bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the US. Here is a post I wrote about that very thing.

Dubya

Dubya knows next to nothing about soccer and, for a refreshing change from the actions of politicians in general, he’s totally honest. He was quoted as saying “[A] lot of us grew up not knowing anything about soccer, like me. I never saw soccer as a young boy. We didn’t play it where I was from. It just didn’t exist.” Thanks for being upfront about it, Dubya!


Uhhhh… that’s the wrong sport! Hey, has Dick Cheney been giving you golf lessons again?





I Never Though I’d Say This, But I Could Hug Bill Clinton

19 05 2010

I could hug Bill Clinton right now.


Allow me to explain.

Bill Clinton has been named the Honorary Chairman of the USA Bid to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022. Here is an article from the New York Observer with the particulars. He announced his chairmanship (honorary though it is) at the FC Harlem soccer facility in Harlem, NY after a soccer clinic for local children was given by Juan Pablo Angel of the New York Red Bulls. In answer to the obvious question, yes, Bill Clinton, the aging, white-haired former president did in fact kick a few soccer balls and, according to the reporter for the Observer, looked at one point “like an excited but debonair flamingo.” I would’ve paid to see that. Here are a few pictures from the event.

Some slight “flamingo-ness” there or maybe just a Monty Python imitation.

For lending his name to the cause of bringing the World Cup here to the US, I would give Bill Clinton a hug. Of course, I’d also have to hug Henry Kissinger, Drew Carey, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among others, but it’s for a good cause, so hugs all around! Here is the website where you can sign the petition to try and bring the 2018 or 2022 World Cup to the US. Also, there are 22 days left until the 2010 World Cup begins in South Africa. (Viva Italia!)

I actually don’t think the former president would be put off by the offer of a hug…

but…

I wouldn’t want to cross her. Would you? I think not.

Nope, Bill Clinton gets no hugs.





“Great” Moments on Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 2 The Bad – Beach Bum Edition

16 04 2010

It about that time again – bathing suit buying time and as many of us contemplate that torturous dressing room experience, here’s a little slice of schadenfreude courtesy of those people we’ve elected to public office.

Richard Nixon

Because it’s so easy to laugh at Nixon.

Winner of the award for Best Forced Smile.

Barack Obama

He borrowed the secret service guy’s shades.

Tony Blair

Hiding in the foliage?

Vladimir Putin

It’s funnier when you consider how sexy he thinks he is.

Nicolas Sarkozy

The only photo in which he’s taller than his wife… sort of.

Ronald Reagan

To be fair, he had to be at least 70 when this was taken. What’s Putin’s excuse?

Bill and Hillary Clinton

This was a stroke of Presidential genius. Why? Well, I don’t believe that nobody knew someone was taking pictures. I don’t want somebody to be able to get that close without permission without being tackled by a half-dozen secret service guys. If both Clinton’s weren’t aware, at least the President must have known and I can see why he would think twice about telling his wife. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right? Still, he knows he’s a little fluffy around the middle so he turns to a flattering angle and uses his wife as, essentially, a human shield for his less-than-fit physique. Honestly, what would the pundits prefer to discuss – his tummy or his wife’s butt. Well done, Mr. Clinton!

Dubya

And that’s the closest I ever want to come to finding a photo of Dubya in a swimsuit!