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Hillary Clinton should be Obama's vice president

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Biden talk in the Oval Office last year.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Biden talk in the Oval Office last year. (Gerald Herbert/associated Press)
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By Sally Quinn
Friday, June 18, 2010

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden should switch jobs.

This Story

Really.

It makes sense for the Democrats, actually. Clinton has done an incredible job as secretary of state. First of all, she has worked harder than anyone should ever be expected to. She has managed to do the impossible: She is the ambassador of the United States to the world, maintaining her credibility while playing the bad guy to President Obama's good guy, such as with North Korea, Iran and Israel, and still looking good. She has been a true team player. If Clinton is dissatisfied with her role, you would never know it. She has been loyal and supportive to the president and has maintained a good relationship with him and with others in the White House. If she is being left out of the policymaking, or being sent on trips to keep her out of town, she has not shown it. She is cheerful, thoughtful, serious and diligent. There are no horror stories about her coming out of the State Department. Most notable, though, is that Bill Clinton has not been the problem that so many anticipated. He has been supportive of her and of Obama, and he has stayed out of the limelight and been discreet about his own life.

In short, the arguments against Hillary Clinton being Obama's vice president have pretty much evaporated.

(Sally Quinn: The gift of the Gores)

So, what kind of running mate would she be? We've seen the team player. Now consider Hillary the Democratic campaigner. She is tireless and relentless. Given the combination of votes that she and Obama got in the 2008 primary campaign, they would be a near-unbeatable team. Clinton also appeals to independents, but importantly, she would neutralize the effect of Sarah Palin. Whatever Palin came up with, Hillary could best her -- and the Tea Party crowd as well. The Republicans would lose their "year of the woman" argument. And based on experience alone, Hillary is far more qualified to be president than any of the Republicans being considered today, including Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty and Palin.

Clinton is also young enough to be the Democratic nominee at the end of an Obama second term; she will be in her late 60s in 2016 but still younger than Ronald Reagan was when he was inaugurated in 1981 (just shy of 70) and younger than John McCain, who was 72 when he ran in 2008. Most important, were she vice president and Obama were for some reason not able to fulfill his term, she would be ready to step in.

True, Joe Biden has been rehabilitated. A recent profile in The Post portrayed him as a successful and intelligent man whose foreign policy advice is valued by the president. The gaffe-prone former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee seems to have worked out the kinks. Clearly, he is aware that he is no longer an independent voice but, rather, a representative of the president. But Biden has no intention of running for president in six years. His passion is foreign policy. He would have been an ideal choice for secretary of state had he not been Obama's running mate. And those who know him have said that secretary of state is his dream job.

It would not be out of the question for Clinton and Biden to switch jobs sometime after the midterm elections. After the president announced the switch, majorities in both houses of Congress would have to confirm Clinton to her new position, following the rules laid out in the 25th Amendment. She could then immediately begin campaigning for Obama for 2012, and she would also have at least two years in the White House as vice president to give her unassailable experience, clout and credibility. For his part, Biden would simply need Senate confirmation to get to work in Foggy Bottom.

Another scenario is that Obama could wait and choose Hillary as his running mate for 2012 and then have her step down as secretary of state so she could start campaigning. The catch with that plan, however, is that it would make Biden a lame duck and Obama would probably have to appoint an interim secretary of state.

Take it seriously.

The writer is a moderator, with Jon Meacham, of On Faith, an online conversation on religion at newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith.


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