Bob Woodward is suggesting that a strange scenario is being contemplated in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would run as President’s Obama’s running mate in 2012, while Vice President Joe Biden becomes Secretary of State.
White House senior adviser David Axelrod is denying the story, however.
Still, the idea is intriguing enough to explore further. President Obama and his party are facing a historic thumping in the upcoming midterm elections this November. If, a year or so later, the economy remains in the doldrums, thus causing it to appear that Obama’s presidency itself is in trouble, a grand swap to shake things up may seem appealing.
There are, however, a number of pitfalls to the scheme.
First, the whole purpose of naming Hillary Clinton Secretary of State was to buy her off with an office that would not position her to plot against President Obama. Ms. Clinton certainly has every motive for revenge, considering the shoddy way Obama used her during the 2008 campaign.
Making her vice president would mean that Obama would have to look over his shoulder throughout the second term, providing that there is even a second term. The vice presidency may be too close for someone like Hillary Clinton, who is said to still harbor presidential ambitions of her own.
With those ambitions in mind, one has to consider that if things are so bad in 2012 that a swap in vice presidents is deemed necessary, would Clinton not be tempted to challenge President Obama for the top spot in the primaries? By offering herself as a gift to the Democratic Party, and hence the country, Clinton could position herself as the savior, offering to clean up Obama’s mess and stopping someone like Sarah Palin from getting the opportunity to do so instead.
Then there is the idea of Joe Biden as Secretary of State. Biden is said to have some kind of foreign policy expertise, but that has not been readily apparent to most people. His ideas to partition Iraq and scale down the war in Afghanistan do not inspire confidence.
And remember, Joe Biden is gaffe-prone. Obama foreign policy has become dysfunctional enough without Biden in the State Department, likely to say anything at any time.
So one suspects that Axelrod is correct and this idea, likely floated by some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, is not being actively considered by the White House. Still, 2012 is a ways away and anything could happen.
Source: A Clinton-Biden swap ‘on the table’? Absolutely not, says Axelrod, Anne E. Kornblut, Washington Post, October 5th, 2010