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Kristol Offers Advice to Obama

Bill Kristol, who has been more wrong about more things that probably any other figure in American politics, has some advice for President Obama. He thinks Vice President Joe Biden should be dumped and replaced with Hillary Clinton. And he explains why that would be good for him to do:

For our part, we’d like to see a decisive triumph for Romney and his running mate over two formidable representatives of contemporary liberalism, rather than a discounted victory over a flawed ticket with only one strong candidate. So we sincerely suggest to President Obama: Dump Joe Biden.

We’re sure the thought has occurred to the president. He knows his undisciplined vice president did him no service by popping off about same-sex marriage on Meet the Press, thereby forcing Obama to engage the issue prematurely. Instead of making his announcement of his evolution in a well-prepared speech for which the groundwork had been laid, the president arranged a rushed interview in which he rather inarticulately expressed his personal view in a way that persuaded no one who wasn’t already convinced. This wasn’t good for him…

…Who should replace Biden? Everyone knows the answer. Hillary Clinton received nearly 18 million votes in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Her rating in a Washington Post survey a couple of weeks ago was 65 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable. Biden hurts Obama. She would help him.

What’s more, she’d help with precisely the undecided voters Obama needs in November. Many of them are white, working- and middle-class Americans who supported her in the 2008 primaries. They overcame their disappointment at Clinton’s defeat to vote for Obama that November. But many became disillusioned and voted Republican in 2010, producing that year’s GOP landslide. Barack Obama needs to win back as many of them as possible in 2012. They voted for Hillary Clinton once. Surely they’d be more likely to return to Obama if given the opportunity to vote for her again as part of the ticket.

Wouldn’t a Biden-Clinton switch be messy and embarrassing and chaotic? Not really. There aren’t many Biden loyalists around, after all, to cause much of a fuss. In fact, Biden’s chief of staff, Bruce Reed, is a Clinton loyalist who could help ensure a smooth coexistence during the slightly awkward months when Clinton would be the vice presidential nominee and Biden still the sitting vice president.

I actually think he’s right that this would provide a boost for the president’s reelection, though not a big one. But before the president or his advisers take it seriously, they should bear in mind that it was Kristol who first suggested Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. And that he’s been wrong about practically everything else for the last couple decades.

Comments

  1. says

    Something I found funny: One of the ads I got with the article was “Join Sarah Palin in supporting conservative Ted Cruz. Donate today.”

    I wonder if conservatives will ever get around to being embarrassed by Palin.

  2. harold says

    Biden was originally on the ticket in ’08 as “the squarest, least radical older white heterosexual Christian Democrat we can find to ‘balance’ out the black guy”.

    He changed the equation with his gay marriage thing. I presume that the plan was to have Biden do it first, as a test to see how it went over, and then have Obama do it if it didn’t provoke major public backlash (and it it had, to be super-cynical, then perhaps his replacement with HRC or someone else might have been more likely).

    It’s possible that Biden ad libbed, but it seems more likely to me that it was coordinated.

    Whether that was the plan or not, this incident gave Biden an identity. He’s no longer just “the guy who’s so white, boring and square that the first black president never has to worry about extra controversy from the VP”. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll be replaced now.

  3. d cwilson says

    The problem with Hillary Clinton as the running mate (and I know her supporters are going to hate to hear this) is that she’s a two-for-one deal. You nominate her and you also get Bill on the campaign trail. That’s two colossal egos jockeying for media attention. One of the lessons of Sarah Palin (aside from “don’t nominate an unprepared idiot”) is never let the running mate overshadow the nominee. Picking Hillary is almost sure to do that.

  4. Phillip IV says

    Kristol Offers Advice to Obama

    And he offers it for free – which is far more than it’s worth.

    I highly doubt that they’ll switch out Biden – he’s doing fine with exactly the same kind of white working and middle class voters that Hillary also appeals to, and it’s not like Obama was exactly trailing Romney on the female vote. If there is an advantage to the switch, it’s probably not big enough to offset the disadvantage of switching in the first place.

    The equation would change, of course, if Romney nominates a female VP candidate, but that doesn’t seem terribly likely right now, considering the dearth of suitable contenders.

  5. D. C. Sessions says

    I agree in part, but only because I have long thought that Presidents campaigning for re-election should use a different standard for running mates than those campaigning for election the first time around.

    The first time, as harold says, the objective is ticket balancing. Especially (as in 2008) when the top of the ticket is someone who’s not well known, adding a long-time national figure provides an image of stability.

    But that’s not the case on the second term. Obama can run on his own record, and Biden doesn’t really do much on that front. Biden can retire with a pretty strong closing title rather than face a probable loss in 2016. Anyone notice that there haven’t been a whole lot of VPs running successfully following a two-term Presidency? HW Bush was the only one in the 20th century.

    So although the VP slot is for some reason seen as a possible springboard to the Presidency, it’s a crappy springboard. Or maybe it’s because it’s a consolation prize rather than succession planning. If a second-term President picked a running mate on the grounds of strong potential as a successor, that might change.

    And I don’t see either Biden or Clinton as strong candidates in 2016.

  6. jerthebarbarian says

    Well if anyone was looking for conclusive proof that having Biden step down and having Clinton run as the veep this time around was a really bad idea, you now have it.

    Bill Kristol thinks its a good idea. Bill Kristol has, to my knowledge, not published a correct piece of political intuition in the roughly two decades I’ve been reading his work. If Kristol says something is a good idea – no matter which side of the aisle you are on – you should back slowly away from it as if the idea itself were a rabid weasel out to bite your ankles.

    He is one of the single most reliable weathervanes of US politics on the planet – he is not just always wrong, he’s almost consistently disastrously, awfully, horribly wrong. Look at what he’s advocating and for the love of Grod DON’T DO IT!

  7. Dennis N says

    two formidable representatives of contemporary liberalism

    One of my biggest pet peeves: labeling centrists as liberal in order to move the Overton Window further backward.

  8. stace says

    The best thing to do when it comes to Bill Kristol Meth is to go George Costanza and do the opposite of what he advises. At least he’s somewhat useful in that regard.

  9. Shawn Smith says

    Anyone notice that there haven’t been a whole lot of VPs running successfully following a two-term Presidency? HW Bush was the only one in the 20th century.

    When I read that the first person that came to my mind was Truman, then TR, then Coolidge, then LBJ. And then I noticed you said two-term and remembered FDR served more than two terms, McKinley and Kennedy didn’t finish their second terms, and Harding didn’t finish his first term. So, point taken. Nixon and Gore lost, both by narrow margins.

  10. harold says

    One of the lessons of Sarah Palin (aside from “don’t nominate an unprepared idiot”) is never let the running mate overshadow the nominee. Picking Hillary is almost sure to do that.

    This is extremely true. There’s also the problem, as there was with Palin, of a VP who gives the very strong perception of wanting to have, or behaving as if they have, the job at the top of the ticket.

    What’s the upside of Hillary Clinton as VP? I don’t even see it helping her. As for the Obama campaign, Biden does potentially appeal to white senior citizens. Republicans constantly try to project the reverse of their own tribalism onto the Democrats, falsely implying that the Democrats are a source of legislation that harms and/or discriminates against white and heterosexuals. I’d argue that doing so borders on the major or even sole source of their appeal in many parts of the country. Biden does serve as a not very subtle rebuttal of that.

    As for Romney nominating a woman, the idea that Romney putting some figure like Nikki Haley or Jan Brewer on the ticket would help him with women isn’t very credible. I’d be surprised to see him do it.

  11. d cwilson says

    @Shawn Smith:

    Which proves that hoping the president will die in office is actually a more reliable way for a VP to become president rather than running on his own.

  12. eric says

    Agree with @4 – Hilary may be a stronger vote-getter than Biden, but the net votes gained by Hilary would not likely offset the votes lost by the administration for switching veeps.

    To make it worthwhile, Biden would have to do a pretty damn good acting job at the “this has nothing to do with politics, I just want to retire” line. The problem is, (1) he is not known for being good at that sort of deception, and (2) I don’t think he wants to retire from politics just yet, which he would have to do after making such an announcement.

  13. says

    Of course, he’s leaving out one very important thing: would Secretary Clinton even take the job? And I’m thinking, no way.

    In my little 2008 fantasy of the post-primary meeting between Clinton and Obama, the coversation went something like this:

    Obama’s People: Look, we gotta pull the party together. You ran a good race, but now we need you behind us 100%. Let’s put aside the bitter fighting of the last few months. What to do you say to being VP?

    Clinton: Really. You think I want to spend the next four years posing for photos and going to ground breaking ceremonies in between stump speeches?

    OP: Well…uh…you get to be the tie-breaker vote for the senate?

    Clinton: And with the super-majority problem, that will be really useful.

    OP: Uh…

    Clinton: Secretary of State and you’ve got a deal. What, you think you can find someone better? Hello? I’m the Goddamn Hilary Clinton.

    So I don’t think Secretary Clinton would be comfortable taking such an impotent politcal role for the next four years. She had her stint being the power behind the power.

  14. cottonnero says

    Clinton may not be the Vice President, but she is the presumptive successor, right? I think Kristol is missing that fact. Evaluating the Obama ticket is more than just one-two; it’s Clinton and Holder and Ginsburg’s Pancreatic Cancer and Maybe Scalia’s Health and so forth.

    Maybe if Obama were seventy-one and in poor shape, but even then the switch would just fuel speculation about the President’s health.

  15. StevoR says

    @9. Shawn Smith :

    So, point taken. Nixon and Gore lost, both by narrow margins.

    Wait I thought Al Gore kinda won?

    But was just robbed by hanging chads and something fishy involving Jeb Bush and the Supreme Court or Electoral Council or something weird you folks in the States do right?

  16. jjgdenisrobert says

    Bill Kristol should have shot himself for the crime of infecting us all with Sarah Palin in 2008. Quite frankly, the man lost the right to live at that time. There are few crimes I believe call for the death penalty; but I think unleashing the monster than is Sarah Palin qualifies.

  17. abb3w says

    Al Gore came within measurement error of winning. There’s a decent piece over at Wikipedia.

    However… no. He came within a hairsbreadth, but even without the SCOTUS ruling probably would have ended up losing once the recounts were all finished.

  18. Michael Heath says

    Bill Kristol:

    We’re sure the thought [swapping 2012 VP candidates] has occurred to the president. He knows his undisciplined vice president did him no service by popping off about same-sex marriage on Meet the Press, thereby forcing Obama to engage the issue prematurely.

    This perfectly illustrates why Mr. Kristol is always wrong, he can’t analyze. VP Biden’s supposed gaffe is trivial relative to his performance – both governing and politiking. For the former Mr. Kristol should consider VP Biden’s performance overseeing execution of the stimulus and the drawdown in Iraq, among other responsibilities delegated to the VP by the president.

    And while it was reasonable to think in Jan-2009 that VP Biden might subsequently harm the Obama presidency with gaffes; his gaffes as VP do not distinguish him from other VPs or wing men in general. His reputation for gaffes was earned prior to being VP, where his record since then is unremarkable.

  19. zippythepinhead says

    People vote for the top of the ticket not the VP. McCain lost in 2008 because he ran a lousy campaign. Palin was a symptom of a bad process not a cause.

  20. marcus says

    D. C. Sessions @ 5 Strong or not I’ll bet you a 4-pack of ten-fidy that Clinton will be the Democratic candidate for President in 2016. Cheers.

  21. Michael Heath says

    zippythepinhead writes:

    . . . McCain lost in 2008 because he ran a lousy campaign.

    I strongly disagree. Yes the Sarah Palin nomination was an enormous mistake, but that only accounted for about a 3% drop. I’d argue he ran way over his capabilities; instead the critical factors was that he was a Republican running for president right after George W. coupled to the fact he clearly demonstrated no aptitude for the job.

  22. Pierce R. Butler says

    Shawn Smith @ # 9: … McKinley and Kennedy didn’t finish their second terms…

    Kennedy didn’t get a second term; he didn’t even manage 3/4 of a first term.

  23. StevoR says

    @17. abb3w :

    Al Gore came within measurement error of winning. There’s a decent piece over at Wikipedia.
    However… no. He came within a hairsbreadth, but even without the SCOTUS ruling probably would have ended up losing once the recounts were all finished.

    Ah, okay, cheers for that!

  24. Nemo says

    a rushed interview in which he rather inarticulately expressed his personal view in a way that persuaded no one who wasn’t already convinced.

    This is one of the things he’s wrong about. You may have seen this on Maddow: After Obama’s announcement (and the NAACP’s), support for gay marriage in Maryland went from +8 to +20. Most of the movement was among blacks: from -17 to +19!

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/05/maryland-polling-memo.html

    @cottonnero #14:

    Clinton may not be the Vice President, but she is the presumptive successor, right?

    What? No.

  25. KG says

    I can’t see any reason why Obama would want to replace Biden with Clinton (or at all, unless Biden wanted to go – he is 69, and it’s hard to see him wanting to run for the Presidency in 2016 at 73), or why Clinton would want to switch from a job with much more real influence and visibility.

    On why Obama beat McCain, one factor not mentioned above is the one another Clinton focused on in a well-know phrase. Looking at the polls for Obama vs McCain, McCain had actually drawn level over the summer; then the financial crisis took a serious turn for the worse in mid-September, and from there on, Obama kept the lead in every poll.

    If Obama prays, I would think Antonis Samaras must be getting frequent mentions at present. If his New Democracy loses to Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza in the Greek election on 17th June (most recent polls have Syriza slightly ahead), the unravelling of the Eurozone, which looks pretty near inevitable sooner or later, is likely to happen this summer – and with it a financial crisis that could dwarf that of 2007-8.

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