The Corner

Don’t Take the Veep Job, Hillary

What about all those rumors out there that Hillary is contemplating “demanding” the vice presidency, as she faces the end of her quest for the nomination? Under certain circumstances, for a candidate in her position such a decision would be wise. Those circumstances include when the nominee is older, more experienced and has more claim on the office by dint of accomplishment, and they do not apply in this case. Hillary is older, more experienced in life if not leadership, and the putative nominee is pretty flimsy. Taking orders from him and living to serve — or being frozen out of — his agenda is not a place that Hillary should want to be.

For one thing, it will undermine the vision of political strength she has offered the nation’s girls and young women — which is her genuine gift and legacy.

It also behooves an ambitious younger politician to take the veep slot when the candidate is likely to win, and his or her future run can be postponed. Senator Obama’s odds are not better than 50 percent — and, in reality, probably lower. Being the Veep candidate on a losing ticket is a one-way train to political oblivion. If he wins — and maybe even if he loses — he will run again in 2012. Challenging a sitting president of your own party is a fool’s errand. Waiting till 2016 is another for a 60-year-old woman. Hillary has two real political choices: 1) return to the Senate and become a power center, and maybe even a voice for the working classes she has gotten to know. If she is moderate at home, staunch on foreign policy, and does not cater to the far left of the Democratic party, she can exert much influence. Or 2) If she is going to demand a serious job, she should demand a top-tier cabinet position where she has a major undertaking to call her own. (Not that I want her in charge of health care, the military or foreign policy.)

And, of course, it’s pretty clear that for either Hillary or Obama, putting the other on the ticket is the kiss of death. Either one, if serious about winning, is better off putting a white, male governor (or former governor) on the ticket. Demanding that spot is a way of saying that you want to go down with the ship.

Or, of course, she could take her millions and go have a nice life. Maybe even without Bill.


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