President Obama would be foolish not to dump Vice President Joe Biden from his re-election ticket and rope in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a growing chorus of, well, mostly conservative and Republican commentators. At The Weekly Standard, William Kristol argues that Clinton would help Obama win back white working-class voters; The Washington Times' Joseph Curl says that Clinton's enormous popularity would put Obama over the top. Even some liberals, like The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky, are pushing the idea, arguing that Clinton would give Obama an election-ensuring 20-point advantage among female voters. Maybe so, but here are five reasons the much-ballyhooed Biden-Clinton switcheroo just won't happen:
1. Everyone denies, believably, that the change is in the works
The idea of swapping Clinton for Biden has been around since at least 2010, and "the White House has constantly shot down the rumors," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. Plus, Biden says he's in it for the long haul, and more importantly, Clinton says that this is her last year of serving in public office, period. On top of that, Obama has Biden out on the trail, stumping for the campaign in key areas around the country. "If that's the sign of a president who's about to toss his vice president overboard, they're putting on a pretty good act."
2. Biden is a serious asset
This idea is being floated again now because of White House anger over Biden's recent Meet the Press appearance, in which he said he supported gay marriage, forcing Obama's hand, says Maggie Haberman at Politico. And in fact, "Biden's tendency to wander off-script is a familiar downside to having him on the ticket." At the same time, though, Joe from Scranton's "ability to connect with voters, especially working-class voters, is a serious upside," now more than ever. Biden's blue-collar appeal is probably a big part of why "he's attracting so much attention from the Right."
3. Clinton wouldn't really help Obama much
There's also this big, eternal truth: "Vice presidents don't make much of a difference," says Harry J. Enten at Britain's The Guardian. No voters will change their mind based on Obama's No. 2, and if Obama's coalition is less enthusiastic than in 2012, it's "not in places where Clinton could help." Does anyone really think young voters, or blacks, will be swayed by putting Clinton on the ticket? "I could see the possibility that Clinton might theoretically add a percentage point to the ticket among women or Hispanics," says Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly, "but the time to make that calculation was four years ago," not now.
4. The swap would be awkward, even counterproductive
In the instances when sitting presidents, "in more-or-less modern times," have swapped out their VP at re-election time — Gerald Ford in 1976, and FDR in 1940 and again in 1944 — they did so because of ideological splits, says Jeff Greenfield at Yahoo News. That's not the case with Obama and Biden. In fact, try describing "with a straight face" how Obama would explain the swap. The only believable answer — "I've concluded that my re-election will be much more likely if I run with Hillary Clinton" — would be electoral poison. Voters don't want to hear politicians admitting to playing politics.
5. Replacing Biden would smack of desperation
The Obama critics making this "fundamentally ridiculous argument" aren't really trying to help Obama beat Mitt Romney, of course, says Outside the Beltway's Mataconis. They are intelligent enough to know that, unless Biden has to sit out for serious medical reasons, a Biden-Clinton switcheroo "would be seen, correctly, as an act of desperation and weakness on Obama's part." And Obama is far from desperate. Still, with three long months before the Democratic National Convention, there are "plenty of other opportunities for the rest of the punditocracy to float this ridiculous scenario, and perhaps even a few others." Enjoy.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- The slippery slope of Twitter's attempts to stop harassment against women
Subscribe to the Week