Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The "Dream Ticket" debate

Ever since Texas and Ohio, the Clintons (first Hillary, then Bill) have been hinting at the possibility of a "dream ticket". The trouble is that they intend for Obama to be at the bottom of that ticket--and he happens to be ahead in the delegate count. Such hints are therefore premature, but they are strategic.

The Clintons want: a) the public to downgrade its perception of Obama from presidential to running-mate material; and, if that doesn't work, b) to pressure the superdelegates to try to force the dream ticket together. (Nancy Pelosi isn't buying.) As Polprint has previously argued, the dream ticket can only go one way: Clinton on top, Obama on bottom. (The Huffington Post makes the case for Obama-Clinton, in which Clinton takes on a Dick Cheney attack-dog role and covers Obama's back.)

Obama has shot down suggestions of a dream ticket. But if things come down to the wire, and Clinton becomes the nominee, Polprint increasingly believes she will have to pick him and that he would most likely say yes. Why?

On the first: if she does not choose him, she will be jeopardizing the future of the Democratic party. People under 40 overwhelmingly favor Obama. Many of these are college students, who are so besotted--not to mention angry at Clinton--that they will not boycott the polls if Obama is not on the ticket. Clinton risks turning off an entire generation of voters.

On the second: Obama is nothing if not ambitious. And one of the chief reasons he has climbed so high so quickly is that he has minimal political baggage. Ironic but true: the lack of a voting record comes in handy when running for president. Eight more years as Senator would not merely "boil the hope out of him", but would also give him a track record that he would have to answer for. Being vice-president would give him policy-making experience supplemented by only the occasional, tie-breaking vote in the Senate. (On the other hand, Obama might detest Clinton too much by this point, and there's always the possibility that Michelle Obama will say no.)

By the way, the Economist's "Democracy in America" blog includes a very funny cartoon, originally from the Oregonian, about Clinton's running-mate overtures.

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