Heading into Democratic Unity Weekend, with Hillary Clinton expected to end her presidential campaign and endorse Barack Obama, it's worth taking one last look at what might have been -- in fact, what was indeed the case from Tuesday night when Obama clinched the nomination until Thursday night when Hillary let it be known she was pulling out of the race: classic Clintonism.
After all, what did Hillary do after Barack became the all-but-official presidential nominee? Go gracious on us and concede? Pledge political fealty to the party standard bearer? Not on your life. She gave another rootin'-tootin' campaign speech about her favorite cause: Herself.
"A lot of people are asking, 'What does Hillary want?'" she said at a rally following Obama's victory speech. "I want what I have always fought for: I want the nearly 18 million people who voted for me to be respected and heard and no longer invisible."
What was she talking about? The "invisible" votes, sorry, didn't add up to political victory but, in Hillaryland, everyone's a winner, especially Hillary. That is, Barack won but Hillary wanted to take the marbles home. Apparently, she has since decided to sail a ship-of-stately into the political sunset (tomorrow is another day). But at that moment, age-old, familiar "I want it because it's mine" Clintonism confounded convention to gratify the lust for power. In a word (at least I think it's a word): Waa-aaa-aaa!
Then again, Hillary later let it drop, ton-of-bricks-like, she would like to be Obama's running mate.
But don't call her, Barack. She'll call you -- eventually. As the New York Post reported, "He tried to call her twice following (his) speech -- but got her voicemail."
The paper adds: "She finally returned the call as his plane was about to fly out of St. Paul to Washington. He offered to meet her but nothing was finalized."
Outside the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Obama was asked whether he was disappointed by Clinton's non-concession speech. He replied: "I thought Sen. Clinton, after a long-fought campaign, was understandably focused on her supporters."
Ouch. Bad sign. This obviously prepared and overly diplomatic response was way too deferential for the top of any ticket, especially one who has already made history, in Obama's case for being the least-experienced -- sorry -- the first black presidential nominee.
But Obama's Hillary problem only got worse. "I just spoke to her today and we are going to be having a conversation in the coming weeks." (Now, there's an executive for you.) When a reporter asked whether Clinton indicated whether she would be dropping out of the race, Obama replied this way: "It wasn't a detailed conversation."
Uh-oh. This champion just doesn't play power politics in the same league as the runner-up. Indeed, it was party elders who forced Hillary out of the race more than the Obama victory. Now I understand why The New York Times' Maureen Dowd calls Obama "Bambi."
Even so, we are hearing endless speculation on an Obama-Hillary "dream" ticket.
Not from Obama supporters, of course. They see Hillary seeking political parity, not supporting the nominee. New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries voiced another nightmarish concern: Bill "running around the White House with a whole lot of free time on his hands." Which is exactly what Dick Morris was talking about when he described an Obama-Hillary ticket as a menage a trois, with Bill as "the unexpected roommate."
Then there was this from Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod: "Obviously, she's an incredibly formidable person" -- read: scary -- "but it's way too early to talk about that." Right. But it wasn't too early for Lanny Davis, a Hillary supporter and former special counsel to Bill, to start a petition drive to put Hillary on the ticket.
What if it works? Imagine the phone call from Barack -- assuming Hillary picks it up -- as he opens with a political pick-up line borrowed from their debates: "You're likeable enough, Hillary."
Somehow, I don't see this happening. And I haven't even mentioned all the Obama-supporting former Clintonistas -- Bill Richardson, Robert Reich, Tom Andrew and now Rahm Emanuel just out from "under the desk" with his Obama endorsement -- who would have to enter witness protection programs just to survive an Obama-Clinton-Clinton campaign, let alone administration. As Jimmy Carter put it while nixing the prospect (I can't believe I'm quoting Jimmy Carter), with Obama and Hillary "you could have the worst of both worlds."
But I can dream, can't I?