Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE ENDGAME....According to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, sources from Hillary Clinton's "inner circle" claim that they're in preliminary talks with the Obama campaign about ending her campaign. They claim there are three scenarios: (1) Obama chooses someone else as VP and ignites a civil war within the party, (2) he publicly offers the VP slot to Clinton, who turns it down, or (3) the two get together and "talk in a room and figure out something." David Kurtz has the video.

Obama's camp denies all this, and even the Clinton sources apparently say that Hillary herself isn't much interested in these ongoing discussions. What's more, it all seems to come down to scenario #3 anyway, doesn't it? In other words, nothing. This strikes me as much more heat than light.

Kevin Drum 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Today's pie is lemon meringue.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 23, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that this has been leaked and reported, however, is enormously significant. It points to an ending (finally!).

Posted by: BigHouse on May 23, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Since when does the loser dictate terms to the winner?

Posted by: Eric on May 23, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

It's just more of the same testicular bullshit threats, pushed by factions in the Clinton campaign. The faction is probably named Bill.

Posted by: bob5540 on May 23, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

But if Clinton *did* accept a position as Obama's VP, there would be exploding heads all over the place. I would look forward to Andrew Sullivan's head exploding most ferociously...

Posted by: Alex R on May 23, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds good for Obama, in that the narrative is even more solidified in the, "When and how does Clinton get out?" direction, rather than the, "Who's going to win?" direction.

Posted by: Just Saying on May 23, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking as an Obama supporter, picking Clinton would be the sorriest mistake he could ever make. I might even vote against that ticket, because the Democrats would be self-immolating and I'd know it's time to create a new party.

Posted by: bob5540 on May 23, 2008 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

There is an extremely powerful tradition in American politics that the presidentail nominee has sole discretion to choose the running mate. (Why? Good question.) Having run a close second in the primaries does not give Hillary the standing to change that, or command a civil war over it. All huffing and puffing.

Posted by: Ken D. on May 23, 2008 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Imagine if she's selected as Veep. Would be a helluva bitter pill for Obama supporters to swallow after eviscerating her in the comments section on this website for months. Heh. So much for party unity....sigh.

Posted by: on May 23, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

I imagine we'll see some polls on this pretty soon. I imagine they'll show she doesn't add any strength to the ticket that isn't already there with Edwards or Napolitano or some of the other possibilities. I'll vote for Obama over McCain no matter what, but I won't be happy with Clinton as veep.

Posted by: tomeck on May 23, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

if he selects hrc as veep he may as well paint a target on his back. Then we will have preznit clinton and america's continuing decline will go on unfettered by any effort to make meaningful changes.

Not sayin obama is the messiah here, but the installation of new blood into the white house (sick of bushie-clinton yet?) may energize the american people to push forward and take back their country.

the prospects of another clinton presidency replete with all its ziocon tendencies and loyalties (mcsame is well, the same) just wears me the hell out.

Posted by: on May 23, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this a case of Suzanne Malveaux creating the news instead of reporting it? No one in the Hillary camp wants to be VP except Bill and a few nut job supporters, the same ones that helped convince my wife and others that Hillary was not the right choice for POTUS. Hillary will be far more effective as the senate majority leader then Reid has been. We need change in Washington and she can damn well get on the band wagon and help bring it, or she can run until both ankles break. It's her choice.

Posted by: JoeSixPack on May 23, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine Hillary really wants the VP spot, and I REALLY can't imagine Obama wants to give it to her. What might make sense is to allow rumors to circulate that Obama offered it and Hillary turned it down. If enough Hillary supporters believed them, such rumors might be a good first step in the direction of healing the divisions in the party.

However, if Hillary ACTUALLY WANTS to be Obama's VP, I can only imagine she wants the position to consolidate her position as frontrunner in 2012 (should Obama lose) or 2016 (should he win). In other words, she wants it for the sole purpose of continuing her own quest for the presidency, which is enough reason in and of itself NOT to offer it to her.

Posted by: David Bailey on May 23, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

What BigHouse said.

Eric: Ever since the filibuster.

Posted by: jhm on May 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

I would be shocked if Obama named Clinton as VP. As much as selecting her might quell intra-party problems, I don't see how she helps the ticket in the general election. I think she would drive away independents, dilute the main theme of the Obama campaign (change), and drive up Republican turnout.

Meanwhile, Obama has proven that he can raise money and drive turnout quite well without the Clinton machine. So again, how does Clinton on the ticket help him win?

On the other hand, she could serve as an invaluable insurance policy for Obama. From a right-wing nutjob conspirator point-of-view, I would imagine that the only thing worse than a President Obama would be Hitlery Rodham Kkklintoon in the Oval Office.

Posted by: Joe Bob on May 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

An Obama-Clinton ticket is a big time loser.

Posted by: alice on May 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

According to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux...

Lost me with the opening gambit.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on May 23, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK
According to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, sources from Hillary Clinton's "inner circle" claim that they're in preliminary talks with the Obama campaign about ending her campaign. They claim there are three scenarios: (1) Obama chooses someone else as VP and ignites a civil war within the party, (2) he publicly offers the VP slot to Clinton, who turns it down, or (3) the two get together and "talk in a room and figure out something."

Seems to me that this says that the Clinton campaign knows they are done, and now they are trying to create the impression that Obama needs to give Clinton influence over the VP choice.


Posted by: cmdicely on May 23, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK
I would be shocked if Obama named Clinton as VP.

Especially given that the Clinton camp has, with this leak, said she would reject the position out of hand, and that what she wants is to dictate the choice of some other person as Obama's running mate.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 23, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK
Hillary will be far more effective as the senate majority leader then Reid has been.

Clinton as majority leader would probably be the best way to assure a repeat of the Democratic Congress-Democratic White House conflicts in 1993-94 that helped give the Republicans a majority for over a decade.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I love you Hillary! Kisses!

Posted by: enozinho on May 23, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

cm, several week ago I thought that moving HRC to Senate leader made sense, but as of late, I agree that your take:

Clinton as majority leader would probably be the best way to assure a repeat of the Democratic Congress-Democratic White House conflicts in 1993-94 that helped give the Republicans a majority for over a decade.

is quite likely.

Posted by: keith g on May 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is, as David Bailey says above, the idea is to "offer" the VP position to Hillary so that she can turn it down. Hillary certainly doesn't want the position; in her mind she's already spent 8 years in the number two spot. And I can't imagine Obama looking forward to having Bill Clinton skulking around the White House, second guessing the President at every turn.

On a not very related topic, Warren Buffet has been on a publicity tour lately. Is he lining up for Treasury Secretary, or does he just have a book coming out?

Posted by: Dave Brown on May 23, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

my guess is that given a position of leadership in either the administration or the senate, Hillary would constantly try to wrest authority away from Obama in her quest to be Top Dog. Her quest seems not to enact policy that would be in the best interest of our now stressed out citizenry, it seems to be the position of ultimate power.

Posted by: jcricket on May 23, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to see Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee with Barack Obama as the VP nominee.

Why? Because in 1992 the Democrats inspired America and won the election with the "Star Trek" ticket of Bill Clinton as Captain Kirk and Al Gore as Mr. Spock. And in 2008 they can inspire America and win with the "Star Trek Voyager" ticket of Hillary Clinton as Captain Janeway and Obama as Tuvok.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 23, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think they should quietly work out a deal to put Hillary on the Supreme Court after he wins in November. She's a highly qualified lawyer, and the appointment is for life. I think she'd be a great Justice.

Posted by: KPereyra on May 23, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

^Somehow the prospect of an administration lost in space 70,000 light years away with holographic healthcare and the very real possibility of running out of fuel does not appeal to me.

Posted by: Orange Crush on May 23, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

JFK offered the VP slot to LBJ for similar reasons: to make peace in the party, under the assumption that he would turn it down. LBJ shocked everyone by accepting the offer, even though he had what was then a far more powerful office than VP: Senate Majority Leader.

I'm afraid that HRC would not only accept the offer, but follow Dick Cheney's precedent and try to grab as much power for the office as possible.

Posted by: Joe Buck on May 23, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Since when does the loser dictate terms to the winner?

When the loser has a huge base of support that cannot be alienated if the winner wants to win the ACTUAL prize, the presidential election. Playing triumphalist games would be fucking suicide.

Obama and Clinton will have to kiss and make up publicly if the Democrats want to have a chance in hell in November. And I say that as someone who's supported Obama since Day 1.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 23, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

I think most kossacks would rather see an Obama/Satan ticket. It would deprive Hillary of the chance of laying eggs in the situation room.

Posted by: B on May 23, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary would be as bad a choice for Supreme Court Justice as Harriet Myers. Neither has the intellectual chops to handle the position.

Posted by: pfft on May 23, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

When the loser has a huge base of support that cannot be alienated if the winner wants to win the ACTUAL prize, the presidential election. Playing triumphalist games would be fucking suicide.

Obama and Clinton will have to kiss and make up publicly if the Democrats want to have a chance in hell in November. And I say that as someone who's supported Obama since Day 1.

Posted by: Mnemosyne


PURE HORSE-SHIT !!!!!

Posted by: JoeSixPack on May 23, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am really starting to warm up to the idea of Ohio Governor Strickland as the VP. First, he's a plausible commander in chief, which is the most important reason to pick anyone. Second, while I think Obama's appeal will restructure the party demographics somewhat, I think Strickland is one of the few potential veep nominees who could in fact help carry a state -- and it's a big one. Third, he has been an effective but in no way obnoxious backer of Clinton's; it won't satisfy every Clinton supporter, but it is an olive branch to the losing side and also gives Clinton a "back channel" into the White House when she is elevated to Senate majority leader (a much better fit for her than VP plus I hear Harry Reid actually would like to step down as leader to improve his re-election chances in 2010). Finally, Strickland's age (67) means he is an unlikely successor to Obama, meaning that Hillary could still be a plausible candidate in 2016 when she will be only 68 -- four years younger than McCain is now. That gesture of keeping the door open for a future run by Clinton should also help bring the party together and partially mollify those who believe if not Hillary now than there is no chance a woman could be president for another 40 years -- a position I think is ridiculous given the vast amount of talented female politicans out there, but that seems to be a genuine fear for some.

Posted by: Scott on May 23, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I have no inside knowledge, but thought this morning that the CNN story must have evolved from conversations between Obama's supporters (and possibly his campaign) and Clinton supporters acting without her knowledge or approval.

I don't think Sen. Clinton wants to be Obama's Vice President, and do think he'd be a fool to pick her. I believe her when she says she wants to take this campaign to the convention. But, she has many supporters who realize the delegate math is heavily against her, and may be searching for a face-saving way for her to end her campaign. They misread their candidate; the only way Clinton would save face in her own eyes is by getting nominated and elected President.

Posted by: Zathras on May 23, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

All of the typical hate and spew in the comment sections here and elsewhere aside, and it is growing so very tiresome that commentators are in danger of being accused of being a lunatic fringe, please read Team of Rivals. Lincoln, Seward, Obama and Clinton were and are all smart and wanted and want a good place in history. Today for the first time an Obama supporter who dislikes Clinton (not a hater) said they really ought to run together. For the first time in months I am encouraged that, the lunatic blog fringe aside, these smart and practical politicians will actually figure out a way to come together and romp to victory and a very good government.

Posted by: Jammer on May 23, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid that HRC would not only accept the offer, but follow Dick Cheney's precedent and try to grab as much power for the office as possible.

Posted by: Joe Buck

If that happened, Cheney would probably have a stroke. Hmmmm maybe not such a bad idea after all.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 23, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Jammer the the emotions are getting out of hand on this. Almost everyone in the blogoshere seems to agree that an Obama-Clinton ticket would be a terrible idea, but I wonder how many "real" people feel that - not many I'll wager.

And as for the meme that Obama shouldn't want Bill hanging around - who cares? That will be the least of his problems if he becomes president.

Posted by: wvmcl2@yahoo.com on May 23, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

"If Obama picks Hillary as his VP, he better have a foodtaster..."
--David Gergen

Posted by: Quotation Man on May 23, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the negotiations are on the rocks. So long as negotiations are fruitful, both parties have an incentive to keep them quiet.

However, public commitments like this serve to make positions more rigid. For HC to announce she wants the VP position and then not get it would be far more humiliating than had she said nothing.

I agree that this is probably the BC faction doing double duty on BO and HC. Strategic leaks raising the stakes for both sides. He has nothing to lose...

Also. I can't imagine anyone so stupid as to offer HC the VP spot based on her secret assurance she will turn it down.

Posted by: Adam on May 23, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the negotiations are on the rocks. So long as negotiations are fruitful, both parties have an incentive to keep them quiet.

However, public commitments like this serve to make positions more rigid. For HC to announce she wants the VP position and then not get it would be far more humiliating than had she said nothing.

I agree that this is probably the BC faction doing double duty on BO and HC. Strategic leaks raising the stakes for both sides. He has nothing to lose...

Also. I can't imagine anyone so stupid as to offer HC the VP spot based on her secret assurance she will turn it down.

Posted by: Adam on May 23, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama gets the presidency - Hillary gets to be a Supreme Court justice - Republicans have heart attacks - a win-win-win situation.

Posted by: MuddyLee on May 23, 2008 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

HRC and her camp are shitting their pants. They sense that Obama has already chosen his V.P. and it ain't her. They also know that, once she is out of the picture, the polls will show Obama way out in front of the senile angry old asshole. They also know that, if that happens, her political career is OVER. Repeat, OVER!

Bill seems to get this: that she has to be on the ticket or she will be so YESTERDAY. Time is not on Billary's side. Her gaffe (Freudian slip) today makes that clear.

Obama has balls as big as Texas. If she thinks she will force her way on to the ticket, she's delusional. She knows that Michelle -- who has bigger balls than her husband -- couldn't stand that.

So, it's HERSHEY HIGHWAY in the Clinton camp.

Posted by: Econobuzz on May 23, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm... anyone think that the VP nominee might be named Clinton... but not Hillary?

Ponder that one for a moment.

Ok, that's enough.

Posted by: Buford on May 23, 2008 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Reading these comments, you would think that Hillary was the spawn of Satan. What a pathetic display of myopic stupidity. If you fail to unite the party, you will lose and McSame will be POTUS. You can't get change without getting the presidency and veto proof majorities in both houses.

Posted by: Ex - Republican Yankee on May 23, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK
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