Friday, May 23, 2008

Head of State: The Reasons That Hillary Should Not Be Vice President

Regarding Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's running mate:

Originally, this seemed to be a potentially plausible choice--and if presented in the following way, could turn her divisive campaign into a potential coup as a VP candidate. The thinking was the following:

Hillary has run a divisive campaign. Now, just as the nation should mend its divisions in favor a greater unity that would serve the greater needs of our country, so now they would explicitly put these divisions behind them, in the interests of the unity that this nation, after a bitter and divisive Administration, so requires. This would serve as a powerful and vibrant example of the very ability to unify that Obama both offers and represents.

However, this would require a candidate that was willing to take such a position of relative shared selflessness in the interests of a greater good. While the Vice Presidency certainly offers its honors (now far beyond the "warm pitcher" of John Vance Garner's famous phrase) and positioning for later Presidential aspirations, such a plan would require the ability to think in terms of a truly collaborative effort based on the betterment of the nation, rather than in more grasping, combative and singular terms.

The Clinton camp's behavior over this past week has made such a positive scenario clearly untenable, showcasing the same characteristics that have signified her campaign throughout its long, chaotic march--its contradictions of previously made statements when such changes have a slight possibility of adding a week or two of vitality, its sudden and implausible use of populist guises and specious historical parallels for transparently opportunistic purposes, its near-hallucinogenic transmogrifications of personality as well as fundamental approaches and themes, and the central campaign tendency to place personal attainment over virtually all values that lay in its path.

These characteristics--personal outcomes over national ones, positioning over a consistent presentation of position, values and even self, the willingness to put campaign viability over the need to transcend and transform the vast wreckage of state and international relations that are the legacy of the previous Administration--are as present now, at a moment when wisdom rather than a remorseless, obdurate desperation could fill this gap, as they have been throughout much of the campaign. They would continue to make themselves present during a Clinton campaign for vice president--complicating, diminishing and often distracting, in trivial internecine battles, the message of unity and change.

Perhaps Clinton could adopt a more unifying, integrated and less grasping position on the VP subject. However, thus far, the actions of the Clinton camp have made it clear: It's time to clean the slate. Hillary Clinton should not be the Vice Presidential candidate.