The missionary position is unacceptable, said a woman of a certain age, by phone, understand. She was referring to prospects of Hillary Clinton running for vice-president on a Democratic ticket. How could I resist this figure of speech? It's too succinct and layered, too rich a summation of attitudes of “women of certain age” who comprise Hillary's most ardent supporters. Forget it. A ticket with “the man on top” is an all too predictable insult, they say.
Barack Obama's most ardent supporters are almost as contemptuous of prospects for an Obama / Hillary ticket as I laid them out in a recent column. Hillary campaigned so wickedly as to place her beyond the pale, said one, similar to how Sen. Edward Kennedy blew future presidential runs by relentlessly opposing President Carter in 1980. Obama/Hillary? It'll never happen, they say.
Such partisans could be right, assuming Hillary really doesn't want the VP spot. Ironically, such reasons also serve as arguments as to why she has more incentive than ever to want the VP job. By their own reckoning, this would put her as close as she'll ever get to the presidency-just a heartbeat away, as they say.
So, should she awaken on Wednesday or Thursday to find that, in her heart of hearts, she does want that history-making prize, a discreet threat of a not-so-discreet walkout at the convention could serve as a powerful lever she'd be tempted to employ. Honestly, if Barack is persuaded she would walk, along with hundreds of disgruntled women supporters, what's his alternative? This would be catastrophic, though he might recover.
Would Hillary make such a threat? You tell me. She played the Tony Rezko “slumlord” card. She played the “working class whites” card too. Note of interest: Howard Ickes' grim mouth and calculating eyes were behind Ted Kennedy's 1980 insurrection, and he's been quite visible in the Hillary camp.
Those who say Hillary's made herself unelectable in either 2008 or 2012 are mistaken. The Kennedy analogy is flawed. After all, Chapaquiddick was an albatross. It haunted Kennedy in the 1980s and was rendered yet more of a curse by circumstances surrounding the William Kennedy Smith “rape trial” which cast Uncle Teddy in an unflattering light-deserved or not.
Lots of candidates come back from bitter battles to fight another day. The best example might be the Ronald Reagan / Gerald Ford clash at the 1976 Republican convention. Reagan dramatically split the party, and in a most stagy way, to the detriment of a sitting president's reelection prospects, then came back in 80 to win a landslide victory.
And even though the New York Times suggests Hillary will concede to Obama this week, peering ahead to 2012 is getting way ahead of the game. Even as I'm writing this, lots of Super Delegates are expected to announce support for Obama, and Hillary appears to be putting her campaign on life support. Still, Super Delegate votes don't get locked in until August. Should a major new scandal occur in the Obama camp, they could switch polarity yet again.
Rev. Wright came close to knocking Obama out of the game. Obama's announcement that he's leaving his church is a reminder of how volatile politics can be.
Suppose Bush bombs Iran on some trumped-up scenario this summer and Obama finds himself hit by the double-whammy of another scandal during a war against Iran. A clamor might arise among Super Delegates in favor of the gritty, sometimes pro-war Hillary.
Unlikely? Maybe so, but Scott McClellan has been shouting from the rooftops that the Bush presidency is a perpetual political campaign and that we should take seriously the notion that he could bomb Iran later this summer.
I'm not predicting this, but Hillary has fought Obama virtually to a tie. I wouldn't write her off either end of the ticket just yet. She may be circling the drain, but she's perversely buoyant. Anything CAN happen, as she so inelegantly suggested May 23.
The smart money is on Obama to announce victory and attend the coronation in August, but the handicapping continues, even as Hillary appears to be capitulating, and she could yet end up on either end of the ticket, assuming she's not opposed to the, um, missionary… well… you know.