Debra J. Saunders

Of course Hillary Rodham Clinton would be willing to be Barack Obama's running mate. Look at her marriage and tell me she won't settle for second place. Clinton's adult life has been about doing -- and enduring -- whatever it takes to get a hold on the White House. On the road to the top, vice president trumps failed Democratic presidential candidate.

Late Wednesday, aides confirmed that Clinton will suspend her campaign and endorse Obama. The announcement was the latest twist since longtime Clintonista Lanny Davis posted a petition asking Obama to consider Clinton as his running mate. Davis -- now with the "Hillary for VP '08 Committee," which, he says, is independent of the Clinton campaign -- wrote, "Together, you stand the best chance of making U.S. history not once but twice -- the first African American president and the first female vice president since the founding of our great nation."

Give up, says conventional wisdom: Obama will never pick Clinton to be his running mate, people who are supposed to know argue -- because he doesn't like her.

The impeccable Obama brand doesn't need the tarnish of all that scruffy Clinton baggage -- an argument excruciatingly catalogued in a recent Vanity Fair article about Bill Clinton's out-of-control behavior, they say. Then there's the big question: How do you vet Bubba?

Also: She might overshadow Obama.

Worse, he might overshadow Obama.

Besides, there is something unseemly in the way Clinton worked her supporters into a lather of angry victim-hood that blamed sexism for her failure to win the delegates needed to sew up the nomination, even as her surrogates suggested that a black candidate cannot win in November.

You know what: None of that matters.

Obama may not like Clinton, but any candidate who has glad-handed countless strangers and charmed big checks from self-important donors is not going to let a little thing like personal feelings get in the way.

"If Hillary Clinton really wants the job, he has no choice in the matter," noted pollster Scott Rasmussen.

On the phone Wednesday, Rasmussen laid out the numbers. On his website, Rasmussen had written that while Obama led McCain with 43 percent to 41 percent of the vote, Democrats have a 63 percent chance of winning the White House in November. "The Democratic presidential nominee will have to make an effort to lose," Rasmussen noted, but "it could happen."

Even as the reputed Democratic front-runner, Obama could not beat Clinton in key states such as Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio. Tuesday night, Clinton noted that she had "nearly 18 million" votes and she wanted those voters "to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible." Like magic, Lanny Davis pulled his petition out of a hat.

"Barack Obama needs those votes," Rasmussen said of the working-class and female Democrats who supported Clinton. And it would be dangerous for Obama to send the message that he does not care about these important elements in the Democratic base. Hence, Rasmussen added, Clinton as running mate would "unify the party."

And the party needs unity. In terms of the popular vote, Obama and Clinton practically tied. According to a RealClearPolitics tally that does not include the Michigan vote (since Obama's name was not on the ballot), Obama garnered 17,535,458 votes to Clinton's 17,493,836. Look at the numbers, Davis told me, "It's in Obama's interest to put her on the ticket."

Team Obama likes to talk about Obamacons -- you know, those independent-minded Republicans who support Obama. In March, Gallup found that 28 percent of Clinton backers would vote for McCain instead of Obama in November. It's the independent-minded Democrats, or McCainocrats, who instead might make the difference.

Clinton's announcement that she is bowing out and endorsing Obama gives Obama face. Now, if he were to pick her, at least it would not look as if he did so with a gun to his head.

As a Clinton critic, I've been heartened by the left's realization this campaign season that the Clintons are dangerously opportunistic and downright toxic. And it has been good to see the Democratic Party move away from the Clinton culture, from which the party derived so much power. In preferring Obama, Democrats looked as if they stood for something more than simply winning.

And now Obama may need her to win the White House.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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