Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hillary, Bill, and the Vice Presidency: Why It Won't Happen

In the western classic, The Culpepper Cattle Co., a young man joins a cattle drive and lands a job as the cook's helper. The trail boss tells him, "See the cook and tell him you're going to be his Little Mary." That's what they called cooks' helpers back then. I wonder what they will call men today whose wives become vice presidents.
Would Hillary make a good vice president? That would depend on your definition of "good." She would certainly be one of the most hardworking and ambitious vice-presidents. Whether she would be loyal and cooperative is another matter. Toward the end of the primaries, Bill Clinton suggested that Hillary, based upon her strong performance in the primaries, had "earned a spot" on the ticket. That doesn't help. A vice-president that feels entitled is more likely to be independent and self-assured. Vice presidents, above all, must be grateful.
Hillary's upside: She brings voters - women, older people, Hispanics, and blue collar workers; she brings drama, too. Yes, there will be drama. We've seen the previews - smashing! Remember "misty" in New Hampshire and "Shame on you, Barak!" in Ohio. In a mischievous kind of way, we want more. She promises more. Throw in a couple of "Where is Bill (and what is he doings)?" and an Obama-Clinton ticket promises entertainment on a grand scale.
But, what about Bill? Bill Clinton is big. He has his presidential library, his bestseller, speaking engagements, and mega-deals with foreign entities - whether it be free traders in Columbia or uranium deals in Kazakhstan. He is a millionaire one hundred times over, and a major player on the world stage. And throw in this understated fact: In the past 40 years, there have been three democratic administrations. Bill has headed two of them.
Why in the world would he chance being Barack and Hillary's "Little Mary" when his is already Big Bill?

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