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.





Another Gold Star For a Government Official

7 07 2010

I saw this video posted here and I felt it was time to give out another gold star.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is not accustomed to things not going her way. That’s not me being insulting or anything like that, it’s fact. Just look at her history. Pretty much everything she’s attempted has worked out for her with the exception of her messy marriage and she and her husband seem to have sorted that out, too. It takes two people to make or break one of those and, from what little she’s said on the subject, she’s content with what she’s got in that department. As of her appointment as President Obama’s Secretary of State, she had amassed enough money and clout to ensure that she will in all likelihood be pleased with most aspects of her life from here on out.
The one big thing that she tried and failed to accomplish was to be elected president in 2008. The fact that she’s in his cabinet is not the issue here. The issue is that wherever she goes, even out of the country (this video was taken in the Republic of Georgia) she is reminded of that failure and instead of trying to avoid the questions about what working for the man who defeated her is like, she takes on the topic with grace and, in the process manages to point out some of the finer elements of democracy and the US system of governing. That’s a lot to pack into a minute. Furthermore, this is a conversation she has had before and will continue to have over and over, probably as long as she is in her current position as Secretary of State. Four years is a long time to be repeatedly reminded about your biggest failure.

That type of grace is lacking in politics everywhere. It’s not just Republicans. It’s not just Democrats. It’s not just the tea party people. It isn’t just the US either – ever seen some of the crazy shit that goes on in the parliamentary sessions of other countries? No, well, here you go.

*BEWARE – F-bombs dropped at the end.*

And, because everything is funnier when you add the Benny Hill theme, there’s this.

Yes, CSPAN would be a hell of a lot more entertaining if our House and Senate were like this, but I think graciousness is a quality that trumps my amusement when it comes to sorting out the country in which I reside and its relationship with the rest of the world. So, for combining lessons on democracy, fair elections, duty, and not being a sore loser, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gets a gold star





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – Hillary Meets Haibao

25 05 2010

Usually I have to find awkward pictures for these posts. This week the photo gods smiled at me.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has a very important job which takes her all over the world to meet with world leaders… and, apparently, chubby, blue mascots. While visiting The World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Secretary Clinton met the mascots, called Haiboa, and posed for some pictures.


The fellow with her is Shanghai mayor Han Zheng.

While collecting photos, I found this one and had to share it as well because I love it. It’s like Where’s Waldo – Foreign Policy Edition.

The lighter side of international diplomacy.





Too Much Politics Before Bed?

31 03 2010

I didn’t sleep well last night and then, when I finally did doze off, I had the weirdest dream. In my dream I woke up and, as usual, turned on BBC for my morning dose of world news… only we didn’t get BBC anymore. That displeased me. The only news I channel available was FOX and the anchors there were a buzz with news from DC. Apparently, the Secretary of State had pissed off the world – I mean the WHOLE world – and we were waiting to see if the administration would do something to try to fix things or we were most definitely going to war… with the world. Israel was the only country not ready to take up arms against us, but not because they supported us, they were just waiting until Passover ended. Oh, by the way, The Secretary of State was John Bolton.
Yep, that John Bolton.

I was well aware that at some time in the recent past I had fallen asleep and it had been a far safer planet and the two-toned walrus was not in any position to cause any international catastrophes. I have no idea who the president was in my dystopia, but they were obviously a moron. I tried to search for some information online to figure out what had happened between then and now and for how long I’d Rip Van Winkle-ed, but when I tried I got a message saying something to the tune of ” due to you questionable patriotism, you can’t search this site.” Now I was an enemy of the state too?! I decided that this was all far too ridiculous and went back to bed pulling the covers over my head. Then I woke up.

I have my problems with the administration. I have my problems with the policy and actions of the current Secretary of State, but at least I’m not going to get blown to Kingdom Come due to anything Hillary Rodham Clinton has said or done. All things considered, I’d rather have her on the job

than him.

And so concludes Story Time in C# Minor.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – The Secretary of State – Flirting for World Peace

26 03 2010

There are plenty of words that come to mind when I think of our current Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton – intelligent, successful, tough, wealthy, …headbands, …pantsuit, …Bubba, ect… Anyway, one that I never thought of was “flirt” – until she became Secretary of State. Now she’s cuddlier with her colleagues than she is with her husband. Sorry, Bill!

A look at all the Secretary’s men.

Joe Biden, the current Vice President, is the person within this administration who I most enjoy hearing about on the news. Why? Because when you hear “Vice President Joe Biden” come out of a news anchor’s mouth, there’s a 93% chance that what will follow it will be amusing to one degree or another and with so much unhappy news out there I like it when a story makes me smile. He meets regularly with the Secretary of State and, apparently, they get alone quite well. I read someplace that they’re actually close friends. Whether or not she’s flirting or being flirted with is up for debate, but every time there’s a photo of the two of them, they look like they’re having a good time.




David Miliband is the British foreign minister and much has been made of the “crush” between he and the Secretary of State ever since she gushed over him in the US edition of Vogue. The Secretary of State is obviously very committed to maintaining the “special relationship” between the UK and the US.




The other special relationship, between the US and Israel, has also received some extra attention, though once again I’m not sure if Secretary Clinton wasn’t simply the recipient of the flirtation in this instance. Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, gave her flowers and a few kisses when she visited Israel in March 2009.

She seems to have a good time with many of her male colleagues. I’m not sure if it’s her celebrity status or if the reports we’ve been hearing for years of her being aloof and frigid are all wrong, but they seem to really enjoy her company.


Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister


Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy


Wouldn’t you love to know what was so funny?

Most recently, and most overtly, Secretary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi shared a laugh and a near-snuggle after a bilateral meeting at the State Department.

Makes one wonder what was in her glass. Also, when you think about it…

…after a few vodka tonics… he might sort of looks like…

Put the glass down, Madame Secretary! We don’t need a nuclear-armed sex scandal! Finish up your work and go home where – depending on the day of the week, state of the world, and appearance schedules – someone just might be waiting… maybe.

**** I like the last picture because, while is isn’t the best shot of either of them, it seems more genuine than many other shots taken of them. I also think it’s interesting that one of their more “candid” pictures was taken in a huge crowd of people. For those of you who disagree with my original picture choice, and since I was trying to be complimentary, here’s a better picture.****

And I just found these.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 1 The Good

18 03 2010

A politician’s image and appearance has been important ever since the 1960 “Great Debate” between JFK and Richard Nixon. Now we live in a world with a constant stream of news on every possible topic. More and more getting involved in politics means giving over nearly every aspect your life to the prying eyes and scrutinizing words of the public at large. Occasionally, a photo comes into existence, whether from an organized shoot or a well-timed candid, the makes you look so fabulous it almost hurts. Then there are those with make you wish to burn every copy of a newspaper within miles and somehow instigate a cable strike. Finally there are those rare gems that are so blatantly bad for your image that even you have to throw your head back and laugh because they are that funny.

Incidentally, yes this was meant to be one big post – the good, the bad, and the WTF – but there was too much good material out there. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also, I’m trying to be nice (for a change) and post at least one good picture of anyone I’m posting bad ones of later.

THE GOOD

Looking Like a Leader
Usually these photos involve flags, a sturdy and well-ornamented desk, official seals, government buildings, or some combination of those items. It works best if you’re really photogenic, but even if you’re not you might get one good one. I don’t really have much to snark at with these photos. Don’t worry. You won’t be without my witty repartee for long.


Barack Obama


Ronald Reagan


Bill Clinton


David Miliband, current UK Foreign Minister


Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State


Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton


Rahm Emanuel


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (He always looks scary!)


George W. Bush – known on this blog as “Dubya”

Looking Like an Affable Everyman/woman
If you don’t necessarily have the camera’s love on your side that doesn’t mean that your political career is over – in fact it’s often said that politics is show business for ugly people – you just have to find your look. To be honest, the “everyman” or “everywoman” isn’t so much a look as it is a required persona. Think about it. Just look back at the 2008 presidential election and point out the “average” candidate. None of them were middle class by any stretch of the imagination. They’re all rather wealthy to one extent or another. Many had been in national politics for decades. None of them are average or “normal” and yet that is how they have to look, so they show off their spouses, children, and pets, get photographed in t-shirts, baseball caps, and jeans, and say and do thing they think the rest of us say and do – with varying degrees of success. Think of Michelle Obama’s (very successful) fist-bump. When in doubt, hold someone’s baby. That usually works and I’ve expounded upon here


Not much to say really. It’s adorable.


Talk about familial! Nancy Pelosi with her husband and her new grandchild. So sweet it could give you a cavity.


The presidents Bush leaving a small church after services with their wives.


This is Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. While he certainly doesn’t look like an “everyman”, he does look very affable.

What is it about a dog that makes the person with it look so much better than they otherwise would.

Joe Biden and his puppy make a much better picture than the Vice President does on his own.


Is Nixon actually smiling?! Maybe it’s just gas.

There’s a line one has to tread carefully with regards to taking pictures with one’s spouse because you want to appear loving, like Tony and Cherie Blair, and generally want to avoid looking too sexy…

unless your last name is Clinton, apparently.

That’s bordering on too hot for the evening news! I know now that it was taken by Harry Benson but I don’t remember when that picture came out, so when I found it, it took me a minute to figure who was in the picture. I still have trouble believing that woman is Hillary Clinton.

I found this picture from 2004 vaguely reminiscent though (thankfully) far less deserving of a “Do not disturb” sign.

And there they go again. What’s stranger yet is that they’re either like this or awkwardly patting each other on the shoulder.

Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni are known for being very affectionate in public, but they are also French, so I think the rules of political PDA are different for them. This shot is very nice.

Commander and Chief
Visiting military personnel makes most politicians look good.


That’s Gordon Brown, current UK Prime Minister.


This is Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany.


Yes, this is a bit older than the photos I usually use, but it’s a bit of family history. My dad was one of the sailors there. I’m not sure if he’s in the shot or not – I’ll have to ask him. I just thought it was cool.

It’s All About the Beauty of the Moment
Occasionally, some photographer will come along and, even if you are not in the least bit photogenic, they will work their magic and you will look fabulous. Sometimes it’s a big moment, a state dinner or something, but sometimes it’s just the way the light hits you. When something like this happens there is nothing to do but thank your lucky stars.


Bill Clinton is a man who tends to fairly look good in photos. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, does not share his luck in that department and never has. She usually looks mediocre at best, but it’s not all bad news though because, when she does take a good photo, it’s a really good one.


I love this so much about this shot – the candles, the lighting, the serene yet intense look she has on her face. It’s really lovely. This one it good, too. She looks so young in this picture. If I hadn’t found it today, I’d have thought in was from her time as First Lady.


This was all about the moment and the words. Ronald McDonald could have been there and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference as long as the speech was the same.


Think what you want to about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that picture is great.


What is it with Joe Biden? He can even get Hillary Clinton to loosen up… a little. Can’t we put that skill to use for the good of humankind?


This is current British Foreign Minister David Miliband. I think he’s kind of cute in a nerdy way so, since it’s my blog, I’m posting another picture of him.

I like him better with glasses. Just my opinion.

It’s usually a good thing to stand out in a crowd and a few politicians, usually women, take that quite literally.

Secretary Clinton

Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Sometimes the guys do get in on the act, though.

US President Barack Obama, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev definitely stand out.


These are just good shots.


She looks tough, but tough is good sometimes. I’ve got a list of world leaders to whom this picture should be emailed to.


It looks like Chancellor Merkel “gets” the modern art in this exhibit in honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s always good to look like you “get” it.


Remember how I said that there was a saying about politics being show business for ugly people. Well, it’s not just for ugly people. This is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

and this is former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.


It blows my mind that Nancy Pelosi is pushing 70 and her husband’s around that age too. Even with some surgical assistance, it’s hard to believe.


One shot where he looks more like a leader and less like a character on That Mitchell and Webb Look

Black & White
Sometimes a black and white photo can make you look better than any color one can.


Yes, black and white can make you look great…

… but it can’t work miracles. Yeah, I’ve had enough of being nice, it’s time to laugh at these people.





Happy International Women’s Day

8 03 2010

March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a bigger deal in other countries – sort of like Mother’s Day but inclusive of all women. I found this statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Remember? 1995 Beijing. “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”) and thought I’d post it. I will be the first to say that, for me, her words ring pretty hollow because I don’t see much that indicates she’s doing anything to help any women anywhere except have her picture taken with them, but that said, the State Department has yet to ask my opinion of anything. I suppose these things take time. Maybe she’ll bring women’s issues more to the forefront as her tenure continues? It’s only been about a year after all.

If I find more statements from other leaders I’ll post them as well.

UPDATE

Found two more videos. This one is from NATO and, just so you know, the music’s abysmal.

This one is from the UN.

I’ll keep looking for more.

UPDATE

Ok, so I know Women’s Day was yesterday, but I thought I’d post the White House’s statement, too.

UPDATE – I think I was a little harder on the Secretary of State than was really called for. The Secretary of State does not make policy and, in such a capacity, can’t go off and do their own thing no matter how noble that thing may be. Whatever her personal feelings might be on any issue, the Secretary of State is the diplomatic face of the Obama administration and nothing more or less.