Hillary laughed off the suggestion, when what's been whispered about in private finally hit the media. Hey, but maybe it will be good for Bob Woodward's book sales. But there is absolutely nothing in the vice presidency for Sect. Hillary Clinton, especially if she wants to keep her 2016 options secure, whether she's sure about it now or not. At this point, it's there for the taking if she decides she wants another run.
The photo here is likely the reaction Clinton, Biden, but also Pres. Obama would have at it being floated, this time in public. James Carville's response was classic: "I'd be stunned if there's anything to it," Democratic strategist James Carville said Tuesday. "Anything is possible in politics. But I don't know of anything beyond speculation, and I really doubt it's anything."
You should have heard the response when I asked insider Clintonites about the SecDef rumor. As for the job swap from State to vice president, Anne Kornblut sums up what most insiders are saying, "nuts," at least those who will talk (those closest to Clinton won't).
"There's absolutely nothing to it," senior adviser David Axelrod said Tuesday night. "The president is blessed to have a spectacular vice president and an outstanding secretary of state. They're both doing great work, and he wants to keep them on the job." Advisers to Clinton said the same, and another Obama adviser called the idea "nuts." - A Clinton-Biden swap 'on the table'? Absolutely not, says Axelrod.
With the launch of Bob Woodward's book and the subsequent interviews, it's now finally out in the open. It all starts on page 31 of "Obama's Wars," with none other than Mark Penn. But the conversation revolves around whether Hillary should take the job of secretary of state, which president-elect Obama is pitching through intermediaries. Woodward explains through the mind of Mark Penn, who before Obama has served one day in office is already speculating that he'll be in trouble by the time he runs for re-election:
Penn always had his eye on the prize--the White House. If she did the job for four years, Obama might be in trouble and have to dump Biden and pick her to run with him as vice president. She had nearly beaten Obama and had won substantial margins in the primary among four important constituencies--women, Latinos, the working class and seniors--voting blocs Obama would need in 2012. Her addition to the ticket might be a necessity.
As anyone knows who has dealt with publishers before, everyone needs book buzz, even Bob Woodward. There's no better way to get it than catapult a wild rumor like this into the political air before a midterm election, from Mark Penn no less.
Woodward continues by talking about the alleged Clinton family motto, "We're going to keep going," which teases the very real possibility that in 2016 Hillary would be ready to run again, with no one able to stop her this time. Also from page 31:
"In terms of 2016, Penn noted, if she served eight years a State, she could not be better positioned to run for president again. She would only be 69-the age Reagan had been when he took office. And statistically, women lived longer and generally stayed in better health during later years."
Sect. Clinton never enjoyed such broad based popularity as a politician. The relationship president-elect Obama fought so hard to get with Clinton at State has served both of them very well. Clinton's on the team, taking orders from the boss on all things, but does have a measure of autonomy at the State Department. Her position as secretary of state has also established her professional independence from her president husband, well beyond the Senate. It's been a total win for Hillary, as it has for her boss.
Clinton's stated she doesn't want a second term at State. She's also said she doesn't want the presidency. We can speculate, but we'll all just have to wait to see what happens. But the fact is that 2016 is waiting for Hillary if she wants it, in my opinion, with there absolutely nothing that can stop her from the nomination.
Once the post-Hillary political era began, after she lost the nomination to Obama, then took the job at State, everyone relaxed while watching Clinton and Obama team up, along with Joe Biden, to become the three Democratic musketeers of the Obama administration, with Robert Gates rounding out the quartet on security matters. It's not been perfect on the national security team, as Woodward tells it, but the Obama, Biden, Clinton team has been as good as it can get.
By all objective observation, Joe Biden has been an exemplary vice president. That he has been proven correct on Afghanistan is just one point. However, he remains the outspoken expert Pres. Obama so needs in private. His blue collar roots help immensely when he's on TV, with his deprecating charm endearing.
Then there is the obvious question. Would Barack Obama ever think about dumping Biden, because he sees himself in trouble for 2012? That question is laughable to me. There is nothing in Pres. Obama's makeup that would lead him to believe he needs Hillary. Politically, the other reality is that no one votes for the vice president.
Woodward belches in a book, the media runs with it. Some things never change.
Looking beyond the current gossip, that even after Penn's disastrous involvement in her presidential campaign Hillary went to him for advice on whether to take the offer of secretary of state is revealing. Penn knows polling, but Hillary would be smart to keep him well away from anything else. No one, beyond Hillary, was more responsible for her presidential campaign running into a ditch than Mark Penn. Let's hope someone in Hillaryland reminds her when the decision for 2016 rolls around and let's hope she listens.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst and veteran national political writer out of Washington, D.C.
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