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Obama Needs Hillary, But Does She Need Him?

12:02 PM, May 22, 2012 • By JAY COST
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I really enjoyed the boss's argument for dumping Joe Biden from the ticket in favor of Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton received nearly 18 million votes in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Her rating in a Washington Post survey a couple of weeks ago was 65 percent favorable, 27 percent unfavorable. Biden hurts Obama. She would help him. 

Indeed. The typical problem with dumping a veep is that it signals real trouble at the top of the ticket, which is a bad story to get into the press. However, Hillary Clinton has so much star power that adding her to the ticket would create such positive buzz that those "Obama's in trouble" stories would probably go ignored.

Of course, does this make sense for Clinton? After all, Barack Obama is in trouble; so yes, she can help him, but can he help her? Maybe not. 

If she is truly done with presidential politics, then a stint as vice president -- in an office utterly bereft of power and full of hassle -- is really not worth her time. She'd be better of retiring or continuing on as secretary of state (or some other post that has real power).

If she isn't done with presidential politics, then it makes sense to leave the administration at the end of this term, get a campaign organized, and run either with or against Obama in 2016. That's the real beauty of her situation at the moment: right now, she's the only Democrat in the entire country who could be both pro-Obama or anti-Obama, depending on how the president is viewed in four years. If she joins up with Obama as the vice presidential nominee, then she spoils that.

So really, why should Clinton bother? Her stint as secretary of state has totally reformed her image, and given her maximum flexibility for her future. Maybe she shouldn't risk all her political capital on a venture that brings her nothing in return.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

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