Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Will he or Won’t he? Why Obama will not pick Hillary for Veep

Lincoln took all of his chief rivals into his Cabinet. Lyndon Johnson put this subject in less noble fashion, "better to have your enemies inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."

Obama himself said, “And, you know, one of my, one of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln. And a while back there was a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called "Team of Rivals," in which she talked about how Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet because whatever, you know, personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis? And I think that has to be the approach that one takes”.

So why am I saying that he won’t pick her for the dream team? There are three reasons.

Reason # 1: Only a victor can be magnanimous not a warrior. The fight is not over yet. It is one thing to pick a cabinet after you win but totally another to pick a running mate. Obama is in the trenches, digging in, to take aim at McCain. He can’t afford the distraction of Hillary’s ice woman image; leave alone the 200 pound big Bill that comes with the package. One just can’t imagine Hillary next to Obama when standing under a larger than life banner that shouts “Change You Can Believe In”. Can you believe that Change?

Reason # 2: “Running Mate” word means a lot in presidential politics. One of the definitions of running mate, according to Webster, is “a horse entered in a race to set the pace for a horse of the same owner or stable”. Can you imagine Hillary setting the pace for Obama? If the elections were held before the invention of TV, people may not find much difference between the two. But in the days of presidential elections first won on the TV screens and ‘sound bites dominating the TV stories’, one can’t help notice Hillary’s inability to produce decent sound bites. One also can’t help notice the profound differences in their body language. Obama is like a kid in a candy store. Hillary is like a mom telling her child to behave. She is experienced to run the house but he is enthusiastic about changing the neighborhood. She is boring in her pant suits and he is crisp in Michelle picked attire. She is clean and he is smelly (by Michelle's own accounts). She is a predictable lanline and he is Voice Over IP (VOIP). She is still useful and dependable VHS and he is fancy but scratch able Blu-ray. She is old school and he is new age. She is we-tube generation and he is you-tube generation. She is the mom and he is the cool kid. Ask any kid if they wanted to be spotted with his mom outside of the soccer ground.

Reason # 3: Obama doesn’t fear losing this campaign. He is smart enough not to negotiate under fear. He will not fear to negotiate her out of the ticket. The presidency is his to take with or without Hillary. It is truer without Hillary on ticket than with her. He knows, in politics, that momentum is everything. Simple arithmetic of adding her voters to his side doesn’t work. He will get them; on his own. He won’t trade the opportunity to negotiate with the rust belt for anything in the world. He will not choose Hillary shortcut to get to them; being mindful of history is being made here. He will want to help shape the history. How a white collar black man won over the elderly blue collar white men and women to become the first black president of the most powerful country on earth. It will be a sensational but grainy and shaky you-tube story not a predictable but stable VHS story!

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