The Switcheroo

While we’re dealing with silly memes, might as well deal with one that just won’t go away: the idea that Obama’s going to dump Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton, perhaps asking them to exchange jobs. It’s been given fresh life by Obama’s rumored anger at his Veep for forcing his hand on same-sex marriage.

As it happens, I don’t have any inherent problem with Clinton getting a promotion, being a prominent booster of the Obama/Clinton “unity ticket” idea back in 2008. But it ain’t happening unless Biden develops health problems or a highly uncharacteristic desire for less attention. As Jeff Greenfield points out in a very thorough demolition of the meme, making a switch would be an admission of weakness that would be very difficult to publicly explain. It would also be a major distraction at a time when the Obama campaign just doesn’t need one.

As Greenfield also explains, this sort of thing has only happened in recent decades when the sitting vice president represented a major intra-party ideological problem for the president (Garner in 1940, Wallace in 1944, Rockefeller in 1976). Biden poses no such problem, and even if the occasional progressive misgivings about him were taken to be a big deal, Clinton would not scratch that particular itch. I could see the possibility that Clinton might theoretically add a percentage point to the ticket among women or Hispanics, but the time to make that calculation was four years ago.

But I’m sure we’ll keep hearing about the “Biden-Clinton Switch” on slow news days right down to the eve of the Convention.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.