Feature

Hillary: Imagining what could have been

Will Obama regret bypassing Hillary?

If Barack Obama loses this election, said Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard, historians will point to one critical mistake: He should have chosen Hillary Clinton as his running mate. “Obama had his reasons” for bypassing her, of course, starting with the fact that she undercut his mantra of “change.” But it’s now clear he made a huge miscalculation. By choosing Sen. Joseph Biden as his running mate, Obama opened the door for John McCain to counterpunch by choosing Sarah Palin—who quickly electrified the Republican base and reversed the Democrats’ lead. Clinton would have unified the Democrats and strengthened Obama’s chances in such crucial states as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Biden, for his part, has generated little enthusiasm and is not likely to turn any swing states blue. No wonder that even Biden has mused that Clinton “might have been a better pick.” And who would Obama rather see facing Palin in the vice presidential debate, “the tough woman or Senator Windbag?” That’s a “no-brainer.” 

Biden’s not the only one having second thoughts, said Glenn Thrush and Martin Kady II in Politico.com. “Palin’s presence—coupled with Clinton’s absence—may be altering one of the great verities of American politics: that women voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats.” Indeed, Obama left the Democratic convention with an 8-point lead among white women; “by the time McCain pulled out of St. Paul, Minn., with Palin at his side, he had taken a 12-point lead.” If Obama can’t count on the Democrats’ traditional advantage among women, his campaign is in deep trouble. “I don’t think Palin would be seeing these kinds of gains,” said Julia Piscitelli of American University’s Women and Politics Institute, “if Hillary was on the ticket.”

“Spare us the instant Hillary Clinton nostalgia,” said Toby Harnden in Realclearpolitics.com.  Have we already forgotten that Republicans used to “salivate at the prospect of facing a polarizing candidate with more baggage than Heathrow airport?” Now they’re hailing the once-vilified former first lady as “a gutsy heroine callously cast aside by Obama.” Democrats who fall for this charade are dupes. It’s true, said Gail Collins in The New York Times, that among Democrats, “Hillary now lives in a golden alternative universe.” In fact, the moment they nominated Obama, Democrats began fretting “that Clinton was by far the better choice.” But such angst is the “nature of the party.” My advice: “Just chill for a few weeks until the debates start and let the Sarah Palin thing play itself out.”

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