Thursday, June 05, 2008

Political History 2008

Unless you've been living in a hole in the ground, you probably know: Sen. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for president. His victory in Montana, in combination with a series of superdelegate endorsements, was enough to put him over the top in the delegate count. He achieved and surpassed the needed 2,118 delegates. This is, of course, an incredibly historic event. For the first time, an African-American will be heading a major party ticket in a US presidential race. Additionally, it is notable because a relatively unknown first-term senator defeated the "heir apparent" of the Democratic party, someone who just a few months ago was thought to be unbeatable by any other Democrat. This has of course happened before in American history, but it is still a fascinating case study and very worth noting.
So has Hillary Clinton then conceded the race? Well, not really. Not officially. She knows Obama is over the top in delegates, and is therefore the presumptive nominee. But she also knows that she is only about 100 delegates behind him, and that if she wanted to keep fighting to the convention floor she could. She took a couple days to weigh her options, and CNN is now reporting that her campaign has announced that she will be ending her campaign and endorsing Obama by the end of this week. This is wise, and the dignified way to end the campaign.
The real question of the hour is, will Obama offer Clinton the VP slot? And if he does, will she accept it? Now, I really have no idea. Very little in this campaign has been predictable. For my own two cents worth, I think Obama should offer Clinton the VP slot, but I think Clinton should turn it down. See, the Democratic party is very divided right now between Clintonites and Obamaniacs (Obama maniacs). If they're going to have any chance of winning the White House in November, that gap has to be bridged. Many theorize that the best chance for a Democratic victory would be for Clinton and Obama to be on the same ticket-- a "dream ticket," a "unity ticket." This may be true-- though for the record, former Pres. Jimmy Carter and PA Gov. Ed Rendell disagree. Regardless, I think it would be a good gesture for Obama to offer Clinton the VP slot, and do it very publicly, so that everybody knows that he is trying to do something gracious and good for the party. Clinton, however, should respectfully turn it down on some equally respectful grounds, i.e. that she could do more good for America by staying in the Senate. And then she should stay in the Senate. Build support, do good, pass bills, be bipartisan. Become a post-1980 Ted Kennedy-esque elder stateswoman, or prepare for another run for president in the future, either one. I strongly believe that she could do more good in the Senate than as VP, or "state funeral attender-in-chief" as I prefer to call it. She's too smart and talented to take a position like VP, where the only power is in the name and if the president dies or is incapacitated. She should go back to the Senate, where she already has a base of influence and power, and lots of ways to do good.

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