Monday, January 09, 2012

Obama's Two Mates

As Republicans loudly proclaim marriage as between one man and one woman, Democrats are quietly debating White House partnerships—-not only in a new insider book on the First Lady’s role but renewed discussion of Hillary Clinton joining the President on this year’s ticket.

In the book, a New York Times reporter describes Michelle Obama “as a woman who, despite her public face as ‘mom-in-chief’...has been a behind-the-scenes force helping shape her husband’s presidency as a steady reminder and custodian of the principles he touted as a candidate,” often in conflict with members of his staff.

Such speculation echoes the days when Nancy Reagan reportedly took on the same role and is less consequential to both the President’s chances for reelection and the nation’s future than the argument for Hillary Clinton running as Vice President this year.

The case for doing that is cogently made by Bill Keller, former executive editor of the Times and now an OpEd columnist:

“She would bring to this year’s campaign a missing warmth and some of the voltage that has dissipated as Obama moved from campaigning to governing. What excites is not just the prospect of having a woman a heartbeat--and four years--away from the presidency, although she certainly embodies the aspirations of many women. It’s the possibility that the first woman at the top would have qualifications so manifest that her first-ness was a secondary consideration.”

Two years ago, Bob Woodward, in another insider book, reported: “It's on the table. And some of Hillary Clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012. President Obama needs some of the women, Latinos, retirees that she did so well with during the 2008 primaries...The other interesting question is, Hillary Clinton could run in her own right in 2016 and be younger than Ronald Reagan when he was elected president.”

As GOP pygmies throw darts at the President’s foreign-policy successes, the presence on the ticket of a Secretary of State who helped implement them would be a constant reminder of how divorced from reality such blathering really is.

In private life, Barack Obama is the model for a one man-one woman union. Politically, he has the opportunity of blessing us all by taking his vows with a former adversary and worthy partner.

Update: As the President loses his ineffectual Chief of Staff William M. Daley, he takes on Jacob J. Lew, a longtime Washington hand from the Clinton days, one small sign that the White House may be moving Hillaryward.

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