The bad dream ticket: Obama would be foolish to pick Clinton

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Joel McNally
Monday, May 12, 2008

Of all the media political clichés about the current presidential race, perhaps the most absurd is describing a ticket headed by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama with Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate as “a dream ticket.”

Talk about your bad dreams.

Now that a bright, young newcomer has come out of nowhere to upset the Democrats’ only successful political brand in the past quarter-century, the last thing Obama needs is to be weighed down by the negatives of the past.

Of course, in politics, it’s never smart to say never. The last time a charismatic, young, Democratic phenom knocked off a grizzled, old veteran, the political odd couple managed to bury their open contempt for each other and put together a winning ticket.

That was in 1960 when the upstart was Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy. The powerful politician who had to swallow his pride and accept the vice presidency was Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson. As the outsiders against Richard Nixon, vice president to war hero and popular President Dwight Eisenhower, Democrats were desperate to cover every bet, balancing a Northeastern candidate with a Southerner and backing up their glamorous young candidate with an experienced political insider.

Today, President George Bush, the son of a former president, surrounded by his father’s old hack cronies, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have succeeded in giving political insiders a bad name.

One of Obama’s multiple attractions is that he offers the promise of a fresh alternative to business as usual in Washington.

Clinton never understood that. Her campaign constantly emphasized her long experience in Washington. How could she possibly lose to first-term senator?

Easy. The public doesn’t like Washington politicians. The experience Obama has had outside of Washington—teaching constitutional law, community organizing on the South Side of Chicago—is far more relevant politically today than sitting around the U.S. Senate year after year with a bunch of millionaires.

Obama has succeeded by promising to turn the page on the old politics. Why would he want to weigh down the ticket with all the awkward baggage of Clinton’s old politics?

It was Clinton herself who turned herself into such a liability. When the race began, there were two bright, shining, nontraditional candidates who promised to remake political history, one female and one African-American.

The problem was that when Clinton did not immediately win the nomination, which she treated as her entitlement, she resorted to every sleazy tactic in the dirty book of old politics.

Clinton was handicapped from the beginning for having voted for the unpopular Bush war in Iraq to prove she could be just as war-like as any male politician. She compounded that problem recently by threatening to “obliterate” Iran.

She repeatedly misspoke (the political euphemism for lying) about being greeted by sniper fire in Bosnia as first lady to burnish her macho credentials. That is, until someone embarrassingly resurrected a video showing she was actually greeted by a little girl with a nonlethal bouquet of flowers.

Clinton’s most offensive political tactic came last week as a majority of the so-called superdelegates began moving toward Obama after he won by a landslide in North Carolina and came within a hair of beating her in Indiana.

She made an openly racist appeal, claiming the results somehow showed Obama could not win because he’s black.

In an interview with USA Today, Clinton said the Associated Press had reported “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how the, you know, whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

In one sentence, Clinton managed to offend every black who works hard and every white without a college education who’s not a racist.

Many suspect Clinton wants Obama to lose to Republican John McCain so she can run for the presidency again in four years.

Dream ticket? No presidential nominee dreams of choosing a vice president who would require round-the-clock surveillance by a special Secret Service detail to protect the presidential back.

Joel McNally is a syndicated columnist. His e-mail address is jmcnally@wi.rr.com.

Last updated: 9:10 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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