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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Consensus seems to have formed that we have a nominee. And not a moment too soon!
Here's an article about what Obama needs to worry about going forward.

And this article discusses the negotiations that occured after a long fought Senate primary in Virginia, and then extrapolates to how those lessons could apply to the current situation:

So if, eventually, Hillary Clinton does the math that the rest of the world is doing and decides to fold her hand, she could learn a great deal from Doug Wilder's negotiations back in 1994. Get your own money back. Don't worry so much about everyone else; they knew what they were getting into. Get a big symbolic victory that will show that the race was about something more than your ego. And keep in the game long term by promoting a supporter for a future role.

So if she does concede defeat, the question "What does Hillary want?" should have some fairly obvious answers.

Debt Relief. Here's an irony: Hillary can keep lending money to her campaign, at least in the short term, without much risk because it's very likely that Obama will agree to pay it in exchange for peace. There are limits to Obama's generosity, of course. Money used for negative attacks from here on out would put her debt repayment at risk. So too would any funds to stretch the campaign beyond the primary end date. And as for Mark Penn's debts? Take a lesson from Wilder: Your staff should consider your good company compensation enough.

A Major Platform Win. Namely, healthcare. Hillary needs to be able to make the case that her campaign had a substantive impact on the race. The best way to do that is to get to write the party's healthcare plank in the platform. If Obama folds on the mandate issue, Hillary walks away with a policy win. Plus, this would please John and Elizabeth Edwards. Choosing Elizabeth to write the healthcare plank of the platform could appease both camps.

VP Right of First Refusal. Here the Clintons have the power to tie Obama's hands. Harold Ford on MSBNC Tuesday made a strong case that Clinton and Obama together should hammer out a team, whether it ends up Obama-Clinton or not. In 1960, John F. Kennedy felt obliged to offer the vice presidential slot to Lyndon Johnson and was stunned when he accepted. Negotiations will probably force Obama into a similar situation. In the end, Hillary Clinton may not want the vice president's job ... but she would be wise to negotiate some form of veto power over Obama's choice. That way she can tactfully say no to another woman making it onto the ticket to steal her spotlight. She could ensure that none of the potential 2012 candidates get positioned for a run in case Obama should fail in November. And she can get in one last twist of the knife on Bill Richardson. NBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's speculated last month that Wesley Clark could be the compromise choice. That theory looks plausible. Clinton loyalists like Evan Bayh and Ted Strickland could be acceptable choices too. If the VP choice is a Hillary loyalist who validates her claim that Obama needs help with blue-collar voters, she will have done what Wilder did with the Chuck Robb-Bill Clinton-Mark Warner "unity" photo -- maintain a grip on the future of the party.

Without question, Barack Obama is entering a very uncomfortable stage of his campaign. Comparisons to Mike Dukakis in 1988 are inevitable -- and if the negotiations drag out, there will be questions about who is really in charge. The sooner he gets it over with, the better for him.

Josh Marshall wonders if Hillary would even want the VP slot:

If Obama wins the presidency, Hillary would not be able to run in her own right until 2016, when she will turn 69. As John McCain is showing, that's certainly not too old to run for president. But she will be nearing the age when 'age' becomes an issue in her candidacy.

Most people who accept the vice presidency do so either because they believe it will line them up to succeed to the presidency or because it brings them to a level of power and honor their careers held little prospect of bringing them otherwise. But neither applies to Hillary Clinton. She's already of the stature and standing to run for president. She's a genuinely historic figure. And she's already been heavily involved in a successful two term administration.

Remember too that the recent trend for greater vice presidential involvement in key administration decision-making has brought with it a flat requirement that vice presidents be strictly loyal and politically subservient to the president. Quite simply, the vice presidency is beneath Hillary's stature. It's not clear to me why Hillary would want to spend four or eight years in a position that I think would actually diminish her stature for the possibility of running for president again almost a decade from now.

On the other hand, Hillary has and can probably hold her seat in the senate for the rest of her life. One never knows, but the prospects look good for the Democrats to hold a majority in the senate -- perhaps even a substantial one -- for a number of years into the future. And some key leadership role would probably eventually be in her grasp, perhaps even hers for the taking. So whether you think Hillary's ambitions are political, ideological or personal -- altruistic or selfish -- her range of action for achieving is better as a lion in the senate than a second banana in the West Wing.

I actually believe that Hillary would really only come into her own in the senate after she set her presidential ambitions aside precisely because they have so tightly constrained the range of actions she's allowed herself and made others so closely scrutinize those actions in light of her ambitions for higher office.

Now, I grant there are some other scenarios. You might speculate that if she ran hard with him and lost she'd line herself up for another try in 2012. But I'm not cynical enough to believe she'd run a race she hopes to lose. Alternatively perhaps she's so committed to her agenda of public policy goals that she'd go for the reduced stature and constraints of the vice presidency for a chance to have great influence on the executive branch from the inside.

Put it all together and whether or not Obama would offer it to her, and even though she might want to be asked, I just don't see where she'd really want it. She should stay in the senate.

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