Maybe it’s just a lack of anything better to do in the August doldrums, but the talk of replacing Vice President Joe Biden with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is beginning to reach a certain level of credibility mass among Washington political junkies.
Politics Daily columnist Elinor Clift floated the possibility of the two swapping jobs in 2012 but the idea remained in the realm of idle talk until Aug. 2. That’s when former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, whose voice carries some weight in Democratic circles, wrote that as vice president Biden had not distinguished himself “other than to be more prone to gaffes.”
Writing in Politico, a specialized journal with an audience of Washington insiders, Wilder said that Biden had not ended these 18 months with the stature to assume the presidency if called on and that Hillary Clinton has.
Biden, the reasoning went, would serve as a scapegoat for the Obama administration’s missteps and Clinton would give President Obama a fresh start of sorts.
A week later, the possibility of Clinton replacing Biden on the ticket was the subject of a segment on Chris Matthews’ MSNBC show “Hardball.”
A Time magazine website asked, “Will Hillary Be Barack’s Next Vice President?” It seemed to suggest she should be, arguing that she had the star power to jump start Obama’s re-election campaign and the pull to bring back the blue-collar voters who have drifted into the Tea Party orbit.
The Wall Street Journal’s political website also asked, “Hillary for Vice President?” The subhead and the point of the post ere even more telling: “The movement is gaining traction.”
On Sunday, the Hillary for veep campaign reached the op-ed page of the Washington Post.
Columnist David Ignatius noted Obama’s preference for a cool and deliberate style and “low-key, low-maintenance personalities,” not categories that would encompass the vice president.
Ignatius, a respected pillar of the journalism establishment, wrote that to stand a chance in 2012, Obama’s “going to need someone to light a fire under him, someone who can play politics fiercely — and can also bring in some new voters.
“Surely it’s obvious that I am describing Obama’s second-term master stroke: Vice President Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
In 2008, when it became clear she wouldn’t win the Democratic nomination, her supporters — including her husband, the former president — began talking her up for the running-mate slot. They described an Obama-Clinton pairing as the “dream ticket.” Clearly, the dream hasn’t died.
Dale McFeatters is an editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service.