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Democratic Party Politics: An Exercise In Speculation

June 3rd, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

I’d like to take a moment to offer some emerging speculation on my part. First, let me state that I’ve intentionally chosen to limit my participation in the animosity that has typified the Democratic primary between Clinton and Obama supporters. In truth, I’m happy to support either candidate in November and I think that should ultimately be the position of all Democrats.

Notwithstanding, the announcement by Clinton surrogates that she is interested in the vice presidency has piqued my propensity for measured cynicism. First a little background. Early yesterday, the media reported that Hillary Clinton was prepared to concede the nomination to Senator Obama. In short order, Terry McAuliffe, the man cited to have made the revelation, renounced the report; stating that neither candidate had the necessary delegates to declare victory.

Shortly thereafter, the Clinton campaign released an official statement reiterating that position and suggesting that no concession would be forthcoming Tuesday night. This all followed a report in which Bill Clinton spoke as if the campaign had reached its inevitable end. Then by Tuesday morning, the word from Clinton surrogates was that the New York Senator was interested in the vice presidency.

Now onto my speculation. The construction and chronology of these events raised my antennae. The conflicting information simply doesn’t add up and that always leads me to look for plausible alternate motivations. Let me posit a question in order to illustrate my contention. What is the purpose of leaking one’s willingness to serve as vice president if one refuses to concede defeat? Isn’t that the equivalent of presenting a contradiction that lacks the logic to achieve comprehension…especially when one is so ardently opposed to acknowledging defeat? When confronted by such inconsistencies, I suspect something else is percolating in the background.

As I sit here writing this posting, MSNBC is reporting that the Obama camp is looking for a negotiated arrangement which would afford Clinton the opportunity to decline the vice presidential nomination while assuring the Obama camp that she will in fact refuse the offer. Presumably, the underlying motivation is all about allowing Senator Clinton a noble and notable exit.

If this latest information is correct, then it’s possible the leak indicating that Clinton may be interested in the vice presidency could have been released as the means to insure that the offer would in fact be forthcoming. While that may appear logical on its surface, it seems to me that the offer and subsequent declination could have easily been negotiated in private without any preemptive public disclosures…which would have prevented it from appearing to be a contrivance.

Therefore, I wonder if there is another motive that would explain this string of discordant events. Stay with me for a moment. Suppose that Senator Clinton is seeking to create a double bind for Senator Obama…one that would preclude his receiving the support of already disgruntled Clinton backers? Suppose Senator Clinton has no intention of an arrangement whereby her answer to the offer would be predetermined.

Suppose having this dialogue in public is the preferred strategy…and one that would afford Senator Clinton the opportunity to assert a slight if the offer isn’t made…and isn’t made without preconditions. Suppose Clinton also knows that Obama has no intention of actually having Clinton as his running mate and that he would require an arrangement whereby Senator Clinton commits to declining the offer before it can or will be delivered. Hence, if she knows all of this to be true, a public dialogue could serve another purpose.

In this instance, Clinton may believe she’s apt to appear magnanimous while portraying Senator Obama as manipulative and willing to slight his opponent in the full view of the voting public. In other words, a publicly negotiated offer and declination would no doubt be seen as a sham. Hence, if the offer wouldn’t be made without already knowing the answer, it could be viewed negatively and insure that the already reluctant Clinton supporters would refuse to back Obama in November. That would greatly hinder the likelihood Senator Obama could be elected.

This could potentially leave Senator Clinton in a position to run again in four years…arguing that had she been on the ticket the outcome would likely have been different. That, coupled with all of the other arguments she has made to be the nominee, could allow her to portray herself as the rightful candidate in 2012…the candidate that she can argue should have been the Democratic choice in 2008…or at the very least on the ticket.

As I stated from the outset, this is strictly an exercise in speculation. It’s certainly possible that there are plausible explanations for the inconsistencies I’ve noted. Throughout this election, my instincts have not led me to conclude a sinister strategy on the part of Senator Clinton. Yes, it’s been clear that winning is her goal and that she is an adept combatant. Then again, we’ve only now reached the point at which she has been backed into a corner with very limited alternatives.

Fortunately, upcoming events will either confirm the unassuming and impartial perceptions I’ve held for many months or they will illuminate my naivete and validate the suspicions of many that Senator Clinton is simply a strident and self-serving strategist. In a nation tainted by eight years of unyielding partisanship, I would be greatly saddened by confirmation of the latter. In the interest of enabling the nation to move forward with a renewed optimism, I certainly hope the next few days will affirm the former.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 3 Responses to “Democratic Party Politics: An Exercise In Speculation”

  2. By rube cretin on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    Daniel, Thanks for the excellent post. According to the link in your missive, “The senator’s remarks came in response to a question from Democratic Rep. Nydia Velazquez who said she believed the best way for Obama to win over key voting blocs, including Hispanics, would be for him to choose Clinton as his running mate.

    “I am open to it,” Clinton replied, if it would help the party’s prospects in November.”

    I fail to see the sinister nature of this comment as has been suggested in the media and throughout the blogs. I view it as a simply statement of total support for Obama. You, my friend, are not naive. The lady will do anything she is asked to do to insure victory in November. The problem before Obama is how to get Hillary supporters to join his team. I’m sure there are many strategic tactics being gamed, but the simplest way is to simply put her on the ticket and move on to the fight with the repups. Rep. Nydia Velazquez was stating her political opinion and i agree with it.

  3. By Gorbe on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    A major problem with your argument is that Clinton would be writing her political obituary if she is perceived as hindering or in anyway interfering with an Obama victory against McBush.

    Obama’s supporters (the other half of democratic voters besides Hillary’s) already suspect she may have done damage with such remarks as herself and McCain being ready to be president; but Obama only gives good speeches.

    If the Democratic quest for the White House is torpedoed by HRC’s too-clever-by-half antics, there will be hell to pay.

  4. By rube cretin on Jun 4, 2008 | Reply

    Gorbe,
    Obama supporters to Hillary. “Get on your knees bitch and bow down. If anything goes wrong you are to blame and “there will be hell to pay.” No wonder her grass root supporters are upset. I know I live with one.

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