Vice President Obama
Ross Douthat ponders the possibility of Obama as Clinton’s running mate, and concludes it’s not particularly likely, nor desirable (from the perspective of the former):
If Hillary’s first term is a disaster, one can almost imagine Obama attempting to challenge her for the nomination in 2012; more plausibly, though, if her administration runs for two relatively successful terms, he’ll be ideally positioned to run Sarkozy-style in 2016 as the candidate of continuity and change, without any of the baggage that a Vice President Bayh or Webb or Richardson will doubtless pick up over two terms in Clintonland. All of this assumes that a Clinton-Obama ticket for this fall is out of the question. I tend to think it is, for a variety of reasons; not least among them is the fact that even if Hillary offered him the Veep’s slot, Obama might well have a better chance of being President in the long run if he turned it down.
Not sure I agree with Ross’s logic here. I rather believe Obama’s chances are better if he becomes VP. I realize recent history is a bit of a mixed bag on the question of whether or not being number two helps your chances of one day gaining the White House, but, on balance, I’d say it helps more than it hurts.
Why? Because Obama’s fresh-faced, Kennedyesque appeal isn’t going to last indefinitely. He’ll need to replace it with something more substantial. Moreover, if he doesn’t become president this time around, his next best chance is very likely to be 2020 or 2024 — not 2016, for the simple reason that, if Hillary should go on to serve eight years, the country will likely want to give the Republicans a shot, and 2016 is therefore not likely to be a great year for Democratic presidential aspirants. Now, this is all extremely speculative, of course, and a lot can transpire over the next four or eight (or whatever number of) years. But my point is, serving as VP for a term or two will solidify Obama as the eminence grise of the Democratic party. Not serving in this capacity will mean he runs the risk of being Just Another Middle Aged Senator when he again decides to run.
There’s another major risk for Obama in not being HRC’s running mate should she prevail in the primaries: it gives some other Democrat (Bayh? Warner Webb?) the opportunity to raise his profile and eventually become a quasi heir apparent — whether or not the Democrats win (but especially if they do). Why give a potential future nomination rival such a head start? Of course, it’s entirely possible that a victorious Hillary Clinton won’t want Obama as her running mate, but I doubt she’d be able to keep him off the ticket if he wants the slot. There’s no chance whatsoever Obama won’t arrive in Denver without a lot of delegates, and a tremendous amount of support nationally — especially among African-American voters (and indeed among Obama-leaning independents vulnerable to the siren call of a McCain or even a Bloomberg candidacy). Hillary will need every vote she can muster.
Personally, it looks to me that Hillary is slowly but inexorably headed to the nomination. As a Democratic-leaning independent, I certainly hope she asks Obama to be her running mate. I suspect it would be a powerful ticket