06/09/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary's 2012 End Game

By Wednesday morning, Hillary and Obama will up neck and neck in popular vote, give or take 100,000 votes between them.

That means the pressure will be on for him to make her his running-mate.

But she may not be interested. In fact, she will likely turn down recruiting efforts. If you take the Clintons at their word Obama is doomed to failure so why would she want to go down in flames with him this fall against McCain?

It's not like she hasn't made this perfectly clear. Her feelings about Obama's inadequacies have been articulated and broadcasted for months.

She has said he is an untried rookie who shouldn't get the nod and can't beat McCain. Her character assassination has been subtle but effective: The reference to Bobby Kennedy. Her doubts about his beliefs, (he's Christian or so they tell me). Her attacks on his manhood. Her husband's description of Obama's entire campaign as a "fairy tale."

All these statements and others will be generously splashed across Republican ads this fall to the point that some voters, who only wake up to their democracy during elections, may actually think she is McCain's running-mate.

Joining the Obama teams means she will have shot herself in the foot beforehand.

So what emerges is what I believe is the Clinton no-lose strategy.

They have used Obama's unelectability as their excuse to continue running against him even though they cannot win because, by saying he's unelectable, they help in part to bring about his defeat.

His defeat by McCain would make them look really smart and also set them up for the nomination and run in 2012. This is based on their professed logic that only Hillary can win against McCain; McCain will be a one-termer because he will be decrepit in four years and there will be a job vacancy in 2012 for the White House.

The tricky part for Hillary will be to appear to be a team player if she declines the VP slot or isn't even asked. Obama will offer both of them something in return for a few stump speeches made in between long absences from the campaign due to "exhaustion."

That's why this week will be great fun to watch because the delegate arithmetic simply doesn't work after Tuesday. And the real Hillary will be revealed in one of two scenarios:

If she becomes Obama's running mate, which makes sense to most Democrats, it will be because she never believed a word she said about his unelectability in the first place. And once in there, she and Bill will also make his life, and presidency should he win, miserable, according to former advisors like Dick Morris.

If, alternatively, she rejects offers to become the running-mate or play a major administration role, then she really believes Obama has no chance, she is not a team player and is willing to have Americans endure one term of McCain so she can take up White House residency in 2012.
Take your pick.