Monday, June 9, 2008<

The Great Compromise (and why it can't happen)

Bringing Hillary's supporters into the Barack camp is going to be no easy feat. Here's what I think should have happened in the next couple weeks, and then i'll talk about why it can't.

In closed door meetings, Barack should agree to offer Hillary the VP nomination, which she would turn down (citing her desire to lead the fight on the issues that matter to her in the Senate). In exchange for taking part in this bit of theater, Barack would promise to make Hillary his Secretary of Defense.

This arrangement would have several benefits. First, Barack's gesture of offering the role would hopefully ease the pain of Hillary's supporters at least somewhat, and make it easier for them to vote for Barack. It would be a demonstration of Barack's respect for Hillary (which for many of Hillary's supporters seem the most concerned about - though admittedly, some just want her and only her to be president). Second, by her turning down the VP slot, we could avoid all the problems that would come with a joint ticket (including the potential for haters of both candidates to oppose it, and the fact that Obama probably doesn't want her on the ticket). Finally, it would be groundbreaking to have a female Secretary of Defense - and I think Hillary would recognize the signal she would be sending to her female supporters by taking such a post.

Now for why it won't work. For this to work best, Barack and Hillary would have to keep this deal secret. If they publicly admitted that she was in line to be SecDef, it would negate the benefits of her not being on the ticket (and might inflame the right more since she would be in such an important role). So they would want to keep it quiet. But, no one would believe that Hillary would turn down the VP role without cutting some deal because she's publicly expressed interest already. This is why I really wish Hillary had held off on pursuing the VP slot - by doing so, she has closed off options for both of them.

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