Obama Hints at Naming Clinton to His ‘Team of Rivals’

Earlier today I posted Air America’s Thom Hartman’s message that Obama should “ask” Clinton to be his VP, in response to the news that Obama has pegged “Jim Johnson to begin vetting potential vice presidential picks.”

The post was met with some disgruntled responses from both Clinton and Obama supporters. And elesewhere in the blogosphere there’s been similar discussions holding forth, with few agreeing on the pragmatism of the idea of a “unity ticket.” Personally, I think given the long drawn out primary season and the fact that both candidates are still winning primaries, it’s sort of a win–win situation for Obama to have Clinton on the ticket.

I’ve talked to a lot of people off the blogs who actually love the idea of an Obama — Clinton ticket. It’s not so popular with Obama bloggers who ever, many of whom shudder at the thought, out their sheer vehemence (and ever growing ) against Hillary Clinton.

They could be in for a surprise however, because today, “near the end of his town hall at B’nai Torah synagogue this afternoon here in Boca Raton, Barack Obama dropped his strongest hint yet that he’d consider asking Hillary Clinton to–gasp!–join his ticket.” Obama in fact cited a historic precedent of filling a president’s team with a “Team Of Rivals“:

It came in response to a question from a man named Mike, a “50 year” resident of Pompano Beach. “I want to know if you’d consider everybody who is a possible help to you as a running mate,” he said. “Even if his or her spouse is an occasional pain in the butt.” Obama laughed. No names necessary; he seemed to get the drift. “Ah,” he said. “I’m… well, look.” Pause. Smile. Applause. “Look, look, look,” he said, quieting the crowd. “We’ve got more work to do. Two more weeks to go. So I don’t want to jump the gun.” Then, suddenly, he warmed to the idea:

I can tell you this. My goal is to have the best possible government. And that means me winning. So, I’m very practical in my thinking. I’m a practical guy. One of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln. Awhile back, there was a wonderful book written by Doris Kearns Goodwin called ‘Team of Rivals,’ in which she talked about how Lincoln basically pulled all the people he’d been running against into his Cabinet. Because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was, ‘How can we get the country through this time of crisis?’ I think that has to be the approach one takes to the vice president and the Cabinet.

If the “Lincoln in ‘Team of Rivals'” reference sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In a much-discussed London Times op-ed from May 4, prominent libertarian-conservative writer Andrew Sullivan made exactly the same comparison in support of a Democratic dream ticket. “There’s… a way for Obama to explain this choice in a way that does not violate — and in fact strengthens — his core message,” he wrote. “His model in this should be Abraham Lincoln. What Lincoln did, as Doris Kearns Goodwin explained in her brilliant book, “Team Of Rivals,” was to bring his most bitter opponents into his cabinet in order to maintain national and party unity at a time of crisis. Obama — who is a green legislator from Illinois, just as Lincoln was — could signal to his own supporters in picking Clinton that he isn’t capitulating to old politics, he is demonstrating his capacity to reach out and engage and co-opt his rivals and opponents.” Incidentally, Sullivan is widely recognized as the mainstream blogosphere’s most vocal Obama cheerleader–and Clinton’s most vociferous critic. Obama is aware of his work. That the Illinois senator would describe his vice-presidential selection process by spouting the same argument as Sullivan–and citing the same book–strikes me as sign that Clinton is (at the very least) under consideration.

Obamabot (Hillary Hater) Al Giordano said today before the event in Boca Raton that the concept of the “nightmare ticket” was dead, via his un-named sources. Personally, I’d be pleased as punch to see Giordano proved wrong on this one… though he would never admit it. For every reason why a “unity” ticket won’t fly, there are as many good reasons why it will. Still, not everyone agrees. Time will tell… Stay tuned…

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