“Crawling at your feet, said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), you may observe a Bread-and-butter-fly. Its wings are thin slices of bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.”
“And what does it live on?” “Weak tea with cream in it.”
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Some Democratic leaders are advancing the “dream ticket” scenario. “Put them together and they cannot lose,” they say. “I’m open to it,” she says.
This is the Obama dilemma. Having clinched the Democratic nomination, Senator Obama must now decide whether to invite Senator Clinton to join his ticket. Rejecting her will almost certainly alienate Mrs. Clinton’s most dedicated supporters who feel cheated by a convoluted nominating process. Ironically, if the Democrats employed the same straightforward nominating process as the Republicans, Mrs. Clinton would have clinched the nomination long ago.
Conversely, selecting Mrs. Clinton would almost certainly alienate the enthusiastic legions attracted to Mr. Obama as a new political leader who promised a break from old-style politics. It would be hard to select a running mate more representative of the old-style politics of division than Mrs. Clinton. No doubt, Mr. Obama took notice of her “victory speech” after he had locked-up the nomination on Tuesday night.
Some may say, that just like in Lewis Carroll’s story, Mr. Obama has seemingly become the bread-and-butter-fly and Mrs. Clinton the weak tea with cream. Without her, Mr. Obama will flounder. With her, his core support will dissolve. It seems the dream-like world Carroll created may swallow the Democratic Party and its presumptive nominee.
But before Democratic leaders rush to counsel Mr. Obama one way or the other, they should consider two things: 1. This election is eerily reminiscent of 1972 and 2. Both members of the “dream ticket” are incomplete — together or individually.
In 1972, the Democrats nominated George McGovern. On Election Day, President Nixon beat Mr. McGovern by 61%-38%, resulting in an absolute blowout of Nixon taking 49 states. While it’s extremely unlikely Mr. Obama would lose to Mr. McCain by the same 49-1 margin, the Democrats are embarking on a path with a proven history of defeat.
During 1972, in a friendly environment, Democrats demonstrated they had become weak on military and national security matters, and so they lost. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson all had been strong defense hawks. So had their party. But in 1972, Mr. McGovern and the Democrats were against the war.