iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Peter D. Rosenstein

GET UPDATES FROM Peter D. Rosenstein
 

D.C. Coffee House Chatter: Hillary for VP

Posted: 09/25/2011 6:22 pm

Chatter in the coffee houses of Washington, D.C. is about what President Obama can do to win a second term. The chatter is from Democratic supporters of the president who don't necessarily think his team is following the right path to reelection. It is from Obama Democrats who Hillary's supporters in 2008 said, "Drank the Kool-Aid."

On a recent Sunday morning, a very prominent Democratic insider stated unequivocally, "Mark my words, on the podium in Charlotte, NC on the final day of the Democratic Convention, the hands held high will be that of Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton." Everyone within earshot looked at him and asked, "Is this inside information?" He responded with a resounding NO but then stood by his prediction nonetheless.

He went on to explain his reasoning and it made sense. If the president's polling numbers don't come up or fall even further, he will need to do something to change the discussion and focus to reinvigorate the party and excite the faithful. There would be nothing more exciting then Hillary on the ticket in 2012.

After beating Clinton in the primaries in 2008, Obama became the nominee with more excitement surrounding him than nearly any other in history. I remember sitting at his acceptance speech in the 80,000-seat stadium and thinking it reminded me of the fervor I had seen in film clips of the Hitler youth rallies. It was both amazing and a little frightening in that the people were endowing this man with all their hopes and dreams and believing he had the power to actually solve the world's problems just by becoming president. I felt a tinge of worry for Obama that day as he carried on his shoulders an impossible burden. In some ways he asked for it with the Hope and Change campaign but those who understood Washington knew that we were in for a long slog before things would change. But he was riding a wave of euphoria and when choosing Joe Biden as his vice president he actually tamped down the level of excitement with a journeyman Senator. Biden had been around for years, was recognized as smart, nice and universally liked, but who could never be mistaken for being charismatic. Biden is everyman, someone who often says humorous things even when he has no intention of being funny. In 2008 Barack Obama had all the glow and charisma needed to win the Presidency.

Today that glow and charisma have faded a little. The immensity of the job and problems he faced made that inevitable. President Obama has come down to earth in the eyes of those supporters who in their own minds had endowed him with super human powers. The president is human and no one could have lived up to the hype when facing the mess he inherited from eight years of the George Bush presidency and the realities of the international financial situation.

So last Sunday over coffee, this prominent Obama supporter said the issue facing Democrats is how to bring back the excitement and drama and some of the hope of 2008. He concluded there is only one person who can do that and it is Hillary Clinton. She would become the nation's first woman vice president and be on the road to becoming the nation's first woman president in 2016.

The question is why would Hillary accept and go from being Secretary of State to vice president? The biggest reason would be to help save Obama's presidency. But there are others. The VP job is actually less demanding and after the campaign Hillary would actually be able to sleep in her own bed most nights. The economy will improve and we will be bringing our troops home and she will be seen as part of the solution. Someone once said the desire to be president is like a chronic disease and never goes away and in Hillary's case her supporters have a burning passion to see her break that final glass ceiling.

Why would Obama want her on the ticket? First there is the four-shot at the end of the convention. Hands held high, Barack and Hillary flanked by Michelle and Bill being a not-so-subtle reminder that when Bill Clinton left the Presidency the nation was at peace with a budget surplus. Today Bill and Hillary Clinton are two of the most popular politicians in the world. Why would Obama allow Hillary to be the star of the 2012 election? The answer is simple. With Hillary on the ticket he wins a second term, without her he could be a one-term president. What about Joe Biden? He has reached the pinnacle of his elective political career. He can have any position he likes including Secretary of State or Ambassador to Ireland or just retire as an admired elder statesman and make the kind of money he has never made before.

Whether this scenario comes to fruition will depend on what happens over the next six to eight months. Does Obama rebound in the polls or do they continue to show he is vulnerable? Who is the Republican nominee? What is the state of the economy and how high is unemployment? But I have learned to never dismiss as idle D.C. coffee house chatter.

 
FOLLOW POLITICS