Bill Kristol’s talking himself into the idea that Obama should pick Hillary as his running mate. Though he’s pretty grinny about it, so who knows what mischief he’s trying to sow. Regardless, I think it’s an enormously bad idea for Obama. Vice Presidents in recent years have been picked to shore-up a media narrative or some other national branding imperative. Clinton picked Gore to reinforce his young southern reformer image. Gore picked Lieberman to reinforce his “break” with Clinton (Liberman famously condemned Clinton from the floor of the Senate for Clinton’s perjury and adultery). Bush picked Cheney to show that grown-ups were coming to town (your call how much that turned out to be false advertising).
If Obama picked Hillary, he would underline lots of impressions, but one most of all: This is the exotic identity politics ticket. The black guy with the funny name, plus the “woman candidate” who also happens to be Bill Clinton’s wife. It would take Obama’s “change” brand and cause it to capsize under the weight of its PCness. Obama not only can afford to pick a stodgy white guy without damaging his “change” message, he almost can’t afford not to pick a stodgy white guy. Otherwise, what is serious and historic about Obama would devolve to schtick.
My guess is that the second Obama starts to poll and focus group swing voters for real, he’ll discover that Hillary brings him next to nothing. The idea that Hillary is a real vote-getter for white working class people in a general election strikes me as wrong beyond words. She won those votes as the anti-Obama candidate more than anything else. Those voters are not going to Obama over John McCain because Hillary Clinton is on the ticket. Period. Full stop.