Mike Tomasky enters the Veepstakes with a variation on a well-worn theme: Will Barack Obama replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton? This is a Question To Which The Answer Is No. To be fair Tomasky, whose piece is supported by a single shoogly opinion poll showing Romney leading Obama amongst women voters, all but admits it’s a close-to-garbage notion:
The one question is this: How is it justified publicly? This is one of those situations when you just obviously can’t tell the truth. The truth is: With Clinton, we win in a near-landslide, and with Biden, it’s iffy, and we want to win. What you say is something like: This is good for the country as we face the great challenges ahead; Secretary Clinton brings her vast experience in the White House and Senate to bear, and Vice President Biden will be able to exploit his many close relationships with world leaders, blah blah blah. Everyone will know that this is gobbledygook, but Clinton’s popularity now is such that it probably wouldn’t matter. I’d guess that approval of such a move would be pretty high among Democrats, and even higher among independents, who feel no residual allegiance to Biden. Republicans would be fuming, which would just be more proof of the move’s effectiveness.
Would it smell of desperation? Possibly. Is it still unlikely? Probably. Neither of those means it wouldn’t produce a blowout.
Tomasky asks us to believe that millions of women, most of whom voted for Obama four years ago but who are presently undecided on the issue of re-endorsing the President, will swoon at the thought of Vice-President Clinton and come trotting back into the Democratic fold. Well, maybe they would but I kinda suspect that most of them will end up voting Democratic anyway, even without Clinton’s presence on the ticket. How many battalions does the Vice-President have anyway? Quite.
Why would Clinton want the job anyway? Tomasky says it would "tee her up" for 2016 but, though of course she may yet change her mind, she’s consistently said she has no interest in running again. But if she changes her mind she can run just as effectively from the State Department as from the Naval Observatory. In any case, Secretary of State is still a better job than Vice-President (and is Clinton’s for as long as she wants it).
On the other hand, though campaign manoevres tend to have a limited impact – especially in awkward economic times – it is possible that a Clinton-Biden job-swap could assist Obama’s re-election. But it would, as Tomasky suggests, tell the press corps that Romney has Obama on the run. It projects weakness which, generally speaking, is the kind of thing a candidate seeks to avoid doing. It’s the kind of thing that changes the lens through which the media filters its reporting. For that reason alone it’s a most improbable move even if you calculate that it might increase turn-out for Obama.
Weirder things have happened but this is still too strange to be probable this summer.