Obama Shouldnâ€™t Offer Clinton VP Spot
I think that many Obama supporters â€” and I count myself among them â€” would feel utterly betrayed by Obama if he offered Clinton the vice-presidency. It would go against everything we have come to believe about him and his campaign. It would be â€œpolitics as usualâ€? â€” a backroom deal that rewards bad behavior. From an ethical perspective, Obama should reject it categorically. Moreover, itâ€™s a bad idea strategically. Hillary Clintonâ€™s negatives caught up with her on the campaign trail, and they would damage Obamaâ€™s chances of winning in November
[Elections 2008: On Not Rewarding Bad Behavior]
The dust has finally settled after the Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, and the horizon is now clear: Barack Obama has unequivocally secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States. For Hillary Clinton, it’s all over but the crying.
After losing to Obama in North Carolina by nearly a quarter-million votes and barely squeaking out a late-night victory in Indiana, Clinton can no longer claim a viable candidacy. She has absolutely no path now to victory in Denver. Or as the New York Post put it rather indelicately in headlines on Tuesday: “TOAST!” Both she — and her husband, the former president — have shamelessly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The Clintons had it in the bag only four months ago, but once the Clinton campaign began to play the race card, the Hillary-and-Bill show was over. A significant shift from the grassroots level all the way through to the top Democratic Party leadership took place. As one high-ranking party official in California said to me, “We were disgusted by what they did to Obama. They should be ashamed of themselves.” And the edge in the race moved to the other side. Clinton went from being a front-runner to being an underdog nearly overnight.
As anyone who watched the Clintons following Tuesday’s primaries fully realized, grace and humility are not their strong suit. As they took to the stage in Indiana, they were full of their trademark arrogance and sense of entitlement, with heavy doses of denial and bitterness thrown in. It was not a pretty picture. Hillary couldn’t help but take more gratuitous digs at Obama — even though she had called North Carolina the “game changer.”
It was a “game changer” all right; it knocked her right out of the game.
Since then, the Clintons and their entourage have been back-channeling offers of her getting out of the race in exchange for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who duly played the race card on behalf of Clinton only a few months ago, has suggested that the winner should offer the loser (and he knows this will be Clinton) the second slot on the ticket. He said this would be “a great gesture.”
This, of course, is the same Ed Rendell who went to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board on behalf of Senator Clinton by saying that there were white voters who “are not ready to vote for an African American candidate.”
Rendell has now managed to come off as a buffoon twice in this campaign. And I have a “gesture” I’d like to offer Ed Rendell.
Pardon me governor, but the idea of Obama offering Clinton the vice-presidency simply doesn’t pass the sniff test. As the campaign has dragged on long after it should have, the Clintons have revealed themselves for what they are: two individuals absolutely hell-bent on obtaining political power at any cost. They would stoop to anything — and they have — to steal the party’s nomination from Obama.
Obama’s road to victory has been paved by a movement — from the grassroots up — one that has been issue-generated, inspirational, and uplifting. He knows that his candidacy is larger than himself. Clinton’s campaign, on the other hand, has been top-down, divisive, exclusive. It’s been all about her — and her husband. The two campaigns are the antithesis of one another. Am I the only one to notice how Clinton’s supporters distorted Obama’s campaign chant from “We Can Win!” to “She Can Win”? The difference between “we” and “she” says it all.
I think that many Obama supporters — and I count myself among them — would feel utterly betrayed by Obama if he offered Clinton the vice-presidency. It would go against everything we have come to believe about him and his campaign. It would be “politics as usual” — a backroom deal that rewards bad behavior. From an ethical perspective, Obama should reject it categorically.
Moreover, it’s a bad idea strategically. Hillary Clinton’s negatives caught up with her on the campaign trail, and they would damage Obama’s chances of winning in November. A lot of Democrats are calling it a “Dream Ticket.” In fact, it would be a nightmare. The Republicans would have a field day going after Hillary and using her quotes about Obama against him.
What Obama should do is offer Clinton the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in exchange for getting out of the race. Immediately. There, at HHS, Clinton can focus on her strong suits and prove her ability to manage change. And she can set herself up to succeed Obama eight years from now. Obama should also offer something to Bill Clinton — perhaps a roving ambassadorship — but neither should any space in the White House. They need to be kept at arm’s length so that they cannot damage his presidency.
If Clinton does not give up the ghost — and there are several indications that she will not — then Obama should cut her off at the knees and force her to remain in the Senate, where she is extremely disliked and politically ineffective.
As of today, Clinton has dismissed any requests from longstanding Democratic Party officials that she get out of the race. Even her supporter, former Democratic nominee George McGovern, has called for her to drop out. It’s downright embarrassing to watch her and her angry band of sycophants — like Lani Davis, Howard Wolfson, her husband and the swamp rat James Carville — continue to lie to the American people about the possibilities of her winning. Their duplicity and denial are absolutely Shakespearean in their scope. She is now more than $10 million in debt. Meanwhile, Obama has more than $42 million left in his war chest, with more coming in daily.
Let us cut to the chase: Clinton’s refusal to accept defeat will only hurt her party’s chances in November. And it will now permanently tarnish both her and her husband’s reputation. Her selfishness apparently knows no bounds.
The time has come for Hillary to step out now, and to do so as gracefully as she can. There are worst fates than the Department of Health and Human Services. She should fold her hand while she still has some chips she can play. And begin working for an Obama victory come November.
Award-winning filmmaker and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is the former recipient of a both a John L. Senior Fellowship to the Cornell University Graduate School of Government and a National Newspaper Association Award for Investigative Journalism. His most recent film is Calypso Dreams. His article for The Black Star News on racism in the Clinton campaign can be read here: http://blackstarnews.com/?c=135&a=4470 To comment, to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to
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Award-winning filmmaker and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is the former recipient of a both a John L. Senior Fellowship to the Cornell University Graduate School of Government and a National Newspaper Association Award for Investigative Journalism. His most recent film is
Calypso Dreams. His article for The Black Star News on racism in the Clinton campaign can be read here: http://blackstarnews.com/?c=135&a=4470
To comment, to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to
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