Matt Drudge is floating a rumor from an alleged "insider" that John Kerry is going to shock the world by naming Hillary Clinton as his VP choice. Now, given that Kerry is probably going to name his actual choice, early next week a cautious man would hesitate to make a prediction. But no one ever said . . .
Anyway, I would be stunned and amazed if Hillary got the nod, for three reasons:
First, Hillary is one of the most disliked politicians in America. She has amazing appeal among hard core Democrats, when she appears at a partisan event she is received like a rock star. Here is part of Peter Coyote's version of Hillary at the '96 Democratic convention:
Hillary's moment arrives and it is stunning. John Lennon's "Imagine" plays and the crowd leaps to its feet, waving a blizzard of white signs which read WELCOME HOME HILLARY. They are fused into one throat, and the intensity of the reception provokes goose-bumps all over my body. They are thanking her; loving her; supporting her; nursing her wounds; making up for the vicious barbs and slices of the opposition; saying they don't care, they love her. She tries, I admit that she tries to stop them and begin her speech, but can't. The applause holds her in place until they are spent and she can begin.
But get her away from the faithful, and Hillary has very strong negatives. As Michael Barone noted last year:
She remains one of the most polarizing figures ever in American politics. In 14 Gallup polls taken between December 1999 and June 2003, the percentage expressing negative feelings about her has ranged between 39% and 53% and averages 45%--very high negatives, far higher than any Republican nominee is likely to have going into the race.
It is going to be a tight election, the candidates are neck and neck, and I can't believe a cautious guy like Kerry is going to put someone on the ticket who is likely to drive at least some voters away.
Second, anyone who knows Washington knows that the town runs on leaks. Insiders leak to curry favor with the press, to advance their agenda, and just because--in the words of our former President--they can. If Kerry was seriously considering Hillary, we would have heard it from someone other than Drudge, for heaven's sake. In fact, I think it likely that Kerry himself would have had someone float the rumor, in order to gauge the public reaction, before taking a step like this.
Third, I think she would make a lousy president (and hence, a lousy VP). This is an opinion shared by a lot of people who had to work with her. This is what Brad DeLong, Berkeley professor, hard core liberal and former Clinton staffer had to say:
My two cents' worth--and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994--is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.
So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system...
Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch--the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.
Well, we will know for sure in a week or so.