Surely she, the most polarizing Democrat, is not the only Democrat who can help Obama appeal to the voters who rejected him in Kentucky and West Virginia. And as his running mate, she would nullify his narrative. The candidate embracing the "future" should not glue himself to Washington circa 1993. Someone promising to "turn the page" should not revert to an earlier chapter. Someone whose mantra is "change" should not embrace her theme of restoration -- that the 1990s were paradise and Democrats promise paradise regained.
She, whose experiences as First Spouse have not impressed Obama as acquisitions of national security expertise, would not help him deflect McCain's predictable attack on his thin curriculum vitae. And the more she seems to be pushing Obama to choose her, the more resolutely he must resist. Otherwise, at the beginning of a contest in which McCain will portray him as a flimsy figure, Obama will define himself as someone who can be pushed around.
On the eve of the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Nelson, addressing his captains on the HMS Victory, picked up a fire poker and said: It does not matter where I put this -- unless Bonaparte tells me to put it a particular place. Then I must put it someplace else. Is Obama Nelsonian?
Selecting vice presidential candidates has recently become more serious than it was when Richard Johnson became Martin Van Buren's running mate in 1836 partly on the strength of the slogan "rumpsey dumpsey, rumpsey dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh," a distillation of the unsubstantiated story that he personally killed the Shawnee chief at the Battle of the Thames in the War of 1812.
In 1964, Barry Goldwater did not reassure queasy voters when he said that one reason he chose to run with Bill Miller, an obscure upstate New York congressman, was that Miller annoyed Lyndon Johnson. And remember the frivolousness that produced Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon's running mate in 1968 and Missouri Sen. Tom Eagleton as George McGovern's in 1972.
Clinton, having risen politically in her husband's orbit, is a moon shining with reflected light. Were Obama to hitch himself to her, he would reduce himself to a reflection of a reflection.