Obama/Hagel '08

Let me get some disclaimers out of the way up front.  First, I am a Clinton supporter.  Second, unless a comet strikes, I expect to be voting for Barack Obama in November.  Third, who Obama chooses as VP does not affect my vote; I plan to be blindly loyal to the Democratic Party regardless.

Fourth, this diary is not a joke.  I can already hear people saying, "Don't you realize Hagel votes with the Bush agenda 95% of the time???" Yes, of course I do.  Let me explain why I don't think it matters, and why I believe Hagel would be Obama's smartest choice for a running mate.

1. Yes, Hagel is a conservative, but the VP has exactly as much authority as the President chooses to delegate to him.  There would be no need to worry that Hagel would suddenly privatize Social Security or nominate conservative judges when no one is watching.  He could make useful contributions in the area of foreign policy and perform the usual ceremonial duties of the office.

This is a choice that is primarily about getting elected in the first place. Anyone who Obama thinks would be a useful part of the team, he can always appoint to a Cabinet post or have as an advisor.  There is no particular requirement that the VP has to be someone who can contribute to the domestic policy agenda - although there's little doubt that Hagel could be helpful in terms of working with the Senate and reaching across the aisle in negotiations.

2. On Iraq and the general subject of US foreign policy, the labels liberal and conservative are no longer a meaningful way of talking about things. As Glenn Greenwald argued long ago, the critical question is whether you are with the neo-cons or against them, and Hagel is unquestionably against them.

American political conflicts are usually described in terms of "liberal versus conservative," but that is really no longer the division which drives our most important political debates. The predominant political conflicts over the last five years have been driven by a different dichotomy -- those who believe in neoconservatism versus those who do not. Neoconservatism is responsible for virtually every significant political controversy during the Bush administration -- from our invasion of Iraq to the array constitutional abuses perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism -- and that ideological dispute is even what is driving the war over Joe Lieberman's Senate seat. It is not traditional conservatism or liberalism, but rather one's views on neoconservativsm, which have become the single most important factor in where one falls on the political spectrum.

The reason why former Republicans like Wesley Clark and Chuck Hagel (yes, Clark was technically never a Republican, but he was a Reagan supporter) have been broadly accepted by liberal Democrats is that they stand in implacable opposition to the Iraq war, the neocon agenda, and the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war.  Hagel can make the case against McCain's brand of neoconservatism just as well as any liberal Democrat did.  In fact, he can probably do so more effectively, because he can demonstrate to voters that opposition to the Bush/McCain Doctrine is not a "liberal" position, it is a common-sense position in the common national interest.

3. Hagel can certainly go toe-to-toe with McCain on issues of foreign policy, and he can somewhat insulate Obama from McCain's ad hominem attacks on his youth, foreign policy inexperience, and lack of military service.  But more importantly, Hagel represents a way for Obama to add foreign policy experience to the ticket WITHOUT showing weakness.

Assume, for example, Obama picks someone like Wes Clark, who would certainly be a strong choice.  The media narrative instantly becomes that Obama made this choice in order to shore up his national security bona fides, and it reinforces the idea that Obama is someone who needs help on foreign policy.  With Hagel as the pick, this doesn't happen, because virtually all the focus would be on the novelty of the bipartisan ticket, the first in ages.  The pick instantly reinforces Obama's promise to be a new kind of politican, and backs up his claim to be a unity-seeker.

4. Hagel helps Obama with the constituencies where he most needs it.  No, he wouldn't help bring back the Clinton supporters who think she got a raw deal in this primary, but in my book, those people are either coming back or they aren't.  Where Obama struggles is with conservative Democrats of the type found in places like Kentucky and West Virginia; it's not just about race, as some would have it, but about national security where these Democrats simply have more conservative views.  The Hagel choice instantly reassures moderate voters that Obama does not, in fact, have some radical liberal agenda. In fact, I can't imagine a more effective way for Obama to drive home the point that his beliefs on foreign policy are widely shared.

In terms of working-class voters who lack confidence in Obama's ability to address economic issues, Hagel doesn't directly provide assistance, but he does free up Obama to focus his message on a more populist, domestically-focused agenda - the area where Democrats are traditionally stronger - while Hagel deals with some of the day-to-day exchanges with McCain on foreign policy.  Just because Obama is right and McCain is wrong on the merits does not change the fact that if every day becomes a back-and-forth with McCain on whether we should talk with Iran, we're taking our eye off the ball and failing to address the serious concerns voters have about their economic future.

5. Hagel appears to be interested in the job, and he is a strong campaigner with the gravitas to deliver meaningful attacks and rebuttals on foreign policy issues.

"We know from past campaigns that presidential candidates will say many things," Hagel said of some of McCain's recent rhetoric, namely his policy on talking to Iran. "But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world, that difference between what they said and what responsibilities they have to fulfill are vastly different. I'm very upset with John with some of the things he's been saying. And I can't get into the psychoanalysis of it. But I believe that John is smarter than some of the things he is saying. He is, he understands it more. John is a man who reads a lot, he's been around the world. I want him to get above that and maybe when he gets into the general election, and becomes the general election candidate he will have a higher-level discourse on these things."

Hagel, speaking to a small gathering at the residence of the Italian ambassador, took umbrage with several positions taken by the McCain campaign, including the Arizona Senator's criticism of Obama for pledging to engage with Iran. Engagement is not, and should not be confused for, capitulation, he argued.

"I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way...."

Hagel then offered a wry tweak of his GOP colleague. "I am confident that if Obama is elected president that is the approach we will take. And my friend John McCain said some other things about that. We'll see, but in my opinion it has to be done. It is essential."

Sometimes when Democrats reach across the aisle, as with Bill Clinton's choice of a Republican as Secretary of Defense, it comes across as a sign of weakness, an acknowledgment that Democrats aren't really trusted on certain issues.  In this particular case, because Obama hasn't shied away from taking assertive stands on foreign policy issues throughout this campaign, I think it comes across as a show of strength rather than weakness.  It's a way to grab the broad center of the debate and demonstrate that McCain is the one with the truly radical and extremist agenda.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this would be an inspired choice, and a choice without the downside which some might fear.  Your thoughts?

Tags: Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel (all tags)

Comments

64 Comments

I thought this was a Democratic blog? n/t

by bobswern 2008-05-22 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I thought this was a Democratic blog? n/t

Thanks for reading!

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I thought this was a Democratic blog? n/t

Yeah, forget those dirty Republicans, right? I mean, we don't need any of their votes or support, especially from the ones appalled at what their party has become.

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I don't believe John Mccain is proposing a neoconservative brand in any way .

It is not neo conservative to advocate for what he thinks is a position that would protect America's national security.

That said if Chuck Hagel is on the ticket , it would make me less likely to vote for that ticket .

Not only for reasons related to Iraq but because I believe Clinton would do a better job in advocating a sensible foreign policy position than Hagel.

by lori 2008-05-22 09:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

It is not neo conservative to advocate for what he thinks is a position that would protect America's national security.

- In terms of Iraq and Iran that is.

Great write up.

by lori 2008-05-22 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Something that's interesting is that back in the late 90s, the candidate the neoconservatives like Bill Kristol were hoping to get in the White House was not George W. Bush.  It was John McCain.

I'm curious where you see McCain's foreign policy agenda deviating substantially from Bush's, other than that hopefully he'd be more competent at it.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I have read quite a few of your comments as it relates to foreign policy / National security and it seems your issues with Mccain are directly tied to his position on Iraq and Iran.

I don't see much of a difference in his position vis a vis Iran from Clinton , he doesn't want to talk to Ahmadinejad personally without preconditions like Clinton and he is not rejecting talks with Iran , which is more or less Clinton's position and in terms of Iraq Mccain has been more right than wrong  in terms of the aftermath of the invasion and the surge .

I do not regard his his Iraq position as a neo con position , its a sensible position to me and I believe its a principled position.

Moreover I believe our candidate's position are similar to his outside of pandering.

by lori 2008-05-22 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Moreover I believe our candidate's position are similar to his outside of pandering.

- on iraq

by lori 2008-05-22 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I don't have time and the resources at hand here, but McCain has engaged in one of the most successful whitewashes of his own record that I've ever seen.

He was part of the "we'll be greeted with flowers and home by Christmas" crowd.  He defended Rumsfeld until it became politically untenable to do so.  He votes with George W. Bush 100% of the time, even on issues where the President is ostensibly opposed to him.

Moreover, he has a permanent occupation in mind.  The "100 years would be fine by me" quote isn't a cheap shot - his defense of it, that we should be able to establish a long-term presence in Iraq without incurring casualties = without regard to how you would get to that point - is the neocon position.

A long term military occupation of Iraq is what he wants - as distinct from the Republicans who want to pacify the country and then get out.  We can quibble with labels all day long, but his approach to foreign policy is incredibly dangerous.  The US military and its stature in the rest of the world can't take much more of this.

by Jess81 2008-05-23 12:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

John McCain 2000 was not a neo-con

John McCain 2008 is a big-time Neo-con

McCain has voted with the bush neo-cons over 90% of the time over the last few years.

by CaptainMorgan 2008-05-22 09:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

As a former Republican, I like this idea a lot. I know, a lot of my lefty friends go nuts at this idea, but I like Chuck Hagel, and he'd truly exemplify a show at a unity ticket. Nothing like this has ever been done in modern history.

I said in 2004, that Kerry/McCain would've been unstoppable. Now, I'm not sure the dynamic is the same here- Hagel may be better as SecDef, or something, with someone like Webb as Veep- but I would support an Obama/Hagel ticket because I know they're both good people, and most importantly, willing to listen to other people's opinions and consider them.

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:23PM | 0 recs
no, no Republican should be on the ticket

I am sorry to say this, but Obama is a smoker (or has been for many years), and I believe he has a family history of cancer.

No Republican should be in line to become president if Obama dies.

Hagel has voted to confirm every Bush judge and has a terrible record on any number of other domestic issues too.

I can't remember ever disagreeing so strongly with Steve M on anything.

by desmoinesdem 2008-05-22 09:41PM | 0 recs
Re: no, no Republican should be on the ticket

Well, I'd certainly agree that that is the strongest argument against any sort of bipartisan ticket.

I certainly do not mean to suggest that Chuck Hagel is my hero or that he is the person I would most want to serve as VP.  But if the goal is to elect Obama instead of McCain, I think I can make a reasonable case that this would be the most effective choice.

Always nice to hear from you, by the way.  Every time someone says "no one ever said anything bad about caucuses before Hillary started losing them!" I always think of you.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:53PM | 0 recs
while barack is a smoker...

he's also 46.

to me, hagel is not a balancing selection as a reinforcing one.  i agree that a hagel selection reinforces his themes of unity and bipartisanship.  but it also reinforces his positions of wanting to reorder american foreign policy.  the one thing i'd demand from a hagel vice presidency is that he take the lead in getting obama policies through congress, including pushing his fellow republicans to support obama's legislation.  as i've said before, you have to have broad consenses to fundamentally change our federal laws (such as health care), something that hillary could never have achieved.  hagel as veep would only be useful if he committed to getting out there in front of all of obama's policies, not just the one's he's agreed with in the past...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:13AM | 0 recs
OK - - Hillary is a neo con AIPAC Lieberdem,
but Hagel, Webb, Bayh, Strickland, they're all peachy keen potential running mates for a progressive campaign ???
I feel like I've fallen thru the looking glass.
BTW - picking a Republican for your cabinet (and basically ending his/her political career) is WAY different than giving a conservative Republican a leg up for a future presidential run.
by kosnomore 2008-05-22 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: OK - - Hillary is a neo con AIPAC Lieberdem,

I know you support a progressive agenda, but the Republicans aren't the enemies, and neither are the more conservative Democrats. If you want to govern the country effectively, you need to be able to compromise- a word our current President probably couldn't pronounce. That's what balancing Obama's ticket with someone like Hagel, Webb, etc, will do.

It says, hey, I'm serious when I'm talking about the United States of America. This isn't red verus blue, this is America. We're not against each other. I think it sends a helluva message.

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:31PM | 0 recs
I don't believe in unilateral disarmanent - -
and I care about our issues because I think we're right and we need to help our fellow citizens.  There IS a difference between democrats and republicans, and I'm willing to fight for that difference.
Hagel opposes women's reproductive rights, he opposes workers rights to organize, he opposes public aid to the less fortunate, public support for education and strict environmental laws.  Yes, he's WRONG.  We are RIGHT.  And I'll fight 'im.
PS - my comment about Hillary was sarcastic!
by kosnomore 2008-05-22 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: I don't believe in unilateral disarmanent - -

Well, he'd be Vice President in this scenario, keep that in mind.

As far as I've seen... for instance let's take reproductive rights. Hagel's made it clear he's against abortion- but I listened to an interview of him once on NPR, and he made it sound like he figured everyone was against abortion. I agree with him there- you agree a woman should have a right to make decisions about her own body, but I'm sure you don't run around going "HURRAY, ABORTION!!!"

He said the problem is more nuanced and complicated than a ban/don't ban final option, and we needed to work for things like sex ed, etc, but that his personal feelings led him to be against abortion unless necessary.

I don't see that as being an antithesis of a Democratic platform chaired by Barack Obama. It'd be an "Agree to disagree" option, where we'd spend more time trying to prevent abortion from having to be an option.

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:44PM | 0 recs
putting a Republican in the cabinet is ok

but not in line to become president if Obama dies.

I also oppose giving a Republican a very important cabinet position like State or Defense. That would just reinforce the false GOP talking point that only Republicans can handle military security and foreign policy.

by desmoinesdem 2008-05-22 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: putting a Republican in the cabinet is ok

But what if they were the right person for the job, irrespective of political affiliation? That's what Obama is going for, I think, and it's one of the reasons I like him so much.

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:46PM | 0 recs
Re: putting a Republican in the cabinet is ok

I agree with THAT more than I agree with your point on Hagel as VP.  I'm agnostic on it at the moment - my personal choice at the moment is Jim Webb, who's sort of a poor man's Chuck Hagel, but also reinforces Barack Obama in a fundamental way.

Check out his comments on "appalachia" recently - they're right up Barack Obama's alley.

But back to Hagel: I believe that his politics are more wrong than right, but that he's a decent and reasonable person, and his foreign policy ideas are very much in line with Barack Obama's.  That matters to me.  He's also a very talented spokesperson and it would be a shame to let him go.  If not VP, then what?  A position with real power?  A position like SecDef where, as you said, it sends the message "we can only trust Republicans to defend the country"?

by Jess81 2008-05-23 12:32AM | 0 recs
is webb a good candidate???

will he spend the long hours crossing this country, campaigning hard for the ticket.  i'd love to have hillary's energy and attack dog nature without having all her baggage.  no one has worked harder on the campaign trail in the last six weeks...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:25AM | 0 recs
yeah, yeah, yeah...

because tomorrow, you'll wake up and the country will suddenly have turned progressive!

once again, we return to the historical examples of reagan-bush and jfk-lbj.  bush ran against reagan policies in 1980, and sought to legislate them into law when he finally became president.  lbj thought kennedy was nuts about civil rights legislation, correctly predicting it would divide the south, and then went further than kennedy probably could have.  

more to the point, i think this whole missionary notion that we can convert the country magically to progressive positions is naive.  people do not suddently decide that they were wrong all these years.  you have to work with them, in areas of mutual interest (such as ending the war in iraq, changing our foreign policy to adapt to the 21st century, etc) before they will challenge themselves about their own stereotypes.

the reason that conservatives had been successful in taking what was once thought extreme to be mainstream political positions is that they have a doctrine of moving the center to the right, instead of the lame dlc doctrine of moving to the center.  it's time that progressives took up that goal, of moving the center to the left, and this might be one way to start that...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Great idea, Steve.  I hope that Obama picks Hagel as his running mate and publicly announces that before the convention.  That alone would probably cause 100 Obama-leaning super delegates to change their mind and thus throw the nomination to Hillary!

by markjay 2008-05-22 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

He's right; compromising and building a rapport with the other side is idiotic at best. Who wants that? Not our girl, that's for sure! GO HIL!

/snark

by ragekage 2008-05-22 09:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Obama isn't sufficiently partisan in a too-conservative/too-liberal kind of way. If he puts Hagel on the ticket, we won't vote for him because he's too conservative. Otherwise, he's likely to lose because he's too liberal and can't connect with  working-class voters. And so, if you couldn't already tell, in the Hillaryverse politicians must exemplify both and neither traits at once. The only escape from this paradox is to actually be Hillary Clinton -- in which case, none of the aforementioned rules actually apply.

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 09:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

What are  you talking about?  I said nothing about whether I would vote for the ticket or not, or, indeed, whether anybody would vote for the ticket or not.  I said nothing about Obama being too liberal or too conservative.

What I suggested was that some Super Delegates, who for the most part have devoted much of their adult life to building the Democratic Party, might not like to see a die-hard conservative Republican on the Democratic Party presidential ticket.

by markjay 2008-05-22 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

What are  you talking about?  I said nothing about whether I would vote for the ticket or not, or, indeed, whether anybody would vote for the ticket or not.  I said nothing about Obama being too liberal or too conservative.

I wasn't specifically addressing you, Mark. I was simply characterizing some of nonsense that passes for argument on this site. But now that I've got your attention Mark, do you think that Obama needs to reinforce his left or right flank?

What I suggested was that some Super Delegates, who for the most part have devoted much of their adult life to building the Democratic Party, might not like to see a die-hard conservative Republican on the Democratic Party presidential ticket.

Who cares, so long as we win?

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

do you think that Obama needs to reinforce his left or right flank?

I think he needs to reinforce his right flank.

Who cares, so long as we win?

Well, this might not help him win.  First, it could conceivable cost him the nomination.  Second, if he wins the nomination, it could still anger a lot of Democratic leaders who end up not going to bat as much for Obama in the GE.  Third, if Mccain responds by nominating a moderate, such as Mike Bloomberg, Colin Powell, or Condoleeza Rice (you may not see her as a moderate but most people probably would), Obama might not get any benefit from this at all.

Assuming that Obama wins the nomination, I think a better way to go is to nominate Clinton (or possibly a strong Clinton supporter, like Strickland or Clark), thus simultaneously reinforcing his right flank (Clinton, Strickland, and Clark all have more appeal to moderate and conservative Dems than Obama has) and healing the divide in the party.

by markjay 2008-05-22 10:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I think he needs to reinforce his right flank.

Good -- I'm glad you're part of the reality-based community.

First, it could conceivable cost him the nomination.  Second, if he wins the nomination, it could still anger a lot of Democratic leaders who end up not going to bat as much for Obama in the GE.

Well, I can see your point, but the whole point of the move is to capture the center -- not to please partisan Democrats.

Third, if Mccain responds by nominating a moderate, such as Mike Bloomberg, Colin Powell, or Condoleeza Rice (you may not see her as a moderate but most people probably would), Obama might not get any benefit from this at all.

Oh, Obama will benefit so long as McCain is running as the Republican nominee in the wake of GWB. Right now, McCain has to fight a two-front war. Any move that seizes the middle and forces McCain to anger the right-wing is electorally helpful. Plus, I don't think Bloomberg want to go down with the S.S. McCain; Rice and Powell are useless as they simply tie McCain closer to Bush.

Assuming that Obama wins the nomination, I think a better way to go is to nominate Clinton (or possibly a strong Clinton supporter, like Strickland or Clark), thus simultaneously reinforcing his right flank...

I think Clark and Strickland are possibilities (I'd rather see Rendell), but I think we need to dispel with the onerous myth that Hillary Clinton appeals to conservative voters. I know Senator Clinton has been playing make-believe for the past month, but the reality is that Hillary Clinton is a pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun, urban, Ivy-league graduate representing New York in the U.S. Senate. To pretend she's the second-coming of Huey Long is pure nonsense. Put Edwards or Schweitzer on the ticket if those are the folks you want to appeal to, but don't hastily buy into the image that Hillary's crafted as of late -- there's no reality to it and it won't last a minute in the general.  

...(Clinton, Strickland, and Clark all have more appeal to moderate and conservative Dems than Obama has)

You certainly can't prove that. Clinton has won moderate and conservative Democrats in some states  (mostly Appalachia and the South) but has lost them in others. And Stickland and Clark are both unknown quantities. Plus, there's another thing to consider: conservative positions vs. populist personality. Sometimes, I think the latter is actually more effective. In that case, nominate a real "mensch" like Rendell, Biden, or Schweitzer.  

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 11:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Personality matters a great deal.

Which is why I'm foursquare against an Obama/Clark ticket - and it pains me to say it because I like Clark.  But the chemistry on that ticket would be like "I'd like a plate of optimism with a side order of sunshine.  Extra syrup."

I still think Webb is perfect.  It reinforces the ticket (the Clinton/Gore model) - as opposed to balancing it (the Dukakis Bentsen model).  It plays up Obama's two main stengths: post-partisanship and a strong anti-war framework.  Webb has both.  Webb is also one hell of an attack dog.

And, by the way, what is Jim Webb's passion?  What are all his books about?  Those economically depressed, Scotch-Irish, Appalachian people that continue to be the one nut Obama cannot crack.

by Jess81 2008-05-23 12:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I'm with you on Webb.  He's a dose of salts and an authentic human being as well.  And an economic populist in every fibre of his being.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-05-23 01:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

That's  a thoughtful response.  And I would agree that Clinton doesn't appeal to the right flank as much as some other possible choices.  However, while appealing to the right flank is one priority, its not the only priority.  I think healing the rift in the Democratic Party,  and appealing to the broad range of demographic groups in the party, are other motives.  So I think Hillary appeals to the right flank somewhat and also achieves these other goals.

by markjay 2008-05-23 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Or here's another thought.  Imagine that McCain responded by selecting Hillary Clinton as his VP!!!

Now, I have never in a million years bought into the argument that Hillary would consider running as an independent or in joining forces with McCain.  She is a rock-solid Democrat.  But, if Obama crossed parties to nominate Hagel, wouldn't that give a green light for Hillary to cross parties and accept the invitation of McCain?  You certainly couldn't chastise Hillary for being on a cross-party ticket without simultaneously chastising Obama for starting the whole cross-party ticket thing.

And I think McCain-Clinton would smash Obama-Hagel.

But, anyway, it's never going to happen.

by markjay 2008-05-22 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I think Jon Stewart already beat you to this idea.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 10:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

But, if Obama crossed parties to nominate Hagel, wouldn't that give a green light for Hillary to cross parties and accept the invitation of McCain?  You certainly couldn't chastise Hillary for being on a cross-party ticket without simultaneously chastising Obama for starting the whole cross-party ticket thing.

Sure I could. One would be the Democratic nominee, the other would be a traitor.

And I think McCain-Clinton would smash Obama-Hagel.

You're dreaming. Obama would simply add Clinton to the pro-Iraq War Washington establishment and continue to thump both of 'em. When 80% of the country thinks we're on the wrong-track and the president and Congress are both incredibly unpopular, the easiest thing in the world would be to run against two Washington insiders. Plus, I don't even want to think about the level of Republican defection (as if they needed another reason to hate McCain).

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 11:49PM | 0 recs
i think it's possible -- and i think she'd take it

in fact, i suspect it's a good possibility, no matter what obama does.  mccain and hillary are good friends, they share lots of positions -- i can't count all the times i've been told that hillary's supporters are closer to mccain than they are to barack, which i've always accepted at face value.

hillary has been a strong conservative democrat and she'd be a strong veep choice for mccain.  plus, she brings a demographic that is already leaning towards mccain anyway.  think of all the feminists that hillary could bring into the republican party!  it's probably mccain's only chance at winning...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:37AM | 0 recs
interesting supposition...

i'd love to know who those superdelegates are.  my own experience has been the reverse.  there are people in the party who are obsessed with converting republicans into democrats, as if that were the key to everything.

while i won't quibble that your local experience may be different, i can't think i've ever run into democratic activists who aren't welcoming of republicans turning into democrats.  in fact, in my experience, surprisingly so...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I didn't say it's idiotic.  I just said that I expect a fair number of Super Delegates wouldn't alike it.  Do you disagree?  If so, argue your point.

by markjay 2008-05-22 09:48PM | 0 recs
yes, i don't think there is a single superdelegate

who would switch from obama to clinton because of it.  the democratic party has always been, in actuality, the big tent party.  the three new congressmen we elected this year are probably as conservative as the typical republican.  hagel is probably more liberal (relatively speaking) than our new congressman from mississippi...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: yes, i don't think there is a single superdele

Yes, we are a big tent party that welcomes Democrats of all stripes.  If Hagel, for example, left the Republican Party and joined the Democratic Party, Most people would probably swallow their opposition.

But we are not so big tent that we take up the cause of electing Republicans to office.  If Hagel remained a Republican, his joining the ticket would mean that the entire party apparatus was being asked to campaign for a Republican to the second highest office in the land, placing a Republican a heartbeat from the presidency.  I'm sure that a lot of Democratic leaders would rebel at that (in fact, so much that it would never happen, as Obama would get a firm word from his key allies in the Democratic Party leadership not to go there).

by markjay 2008-05-23 05:14AM | 0 recs
hagel is already an outcast in the gop...

i actually think his holding onto the republican label would be the only benefit he'd bring as the veep nominee.  you may think the vice-presidency is more important than i do, though...

by bored now 2008-05-23 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Would it really?  I'm not clowning around here.

Understand that while there are plenty of progressive Clinton supporters like you and I, it's really not the left flank that Obama needs to shore up for the GE.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I know you are being serious, and I am too.   Hagel is not really a centrist Republican.  He's been centrist on some issues, such as Iraq, but his overall background is as a die-hard conservative Republican.

The Super Delegates are the party leaders.  A lot of them might not look too kindly on blurring the lines between Democrats and Republicans, giving a Republican a leg up to be the next President, and potentially creating down-ticket problems (after all, if three of the four people at the top of the ticket are Republicans -- two on the Republican side and one on the Democratic side -- might that not make it harder on down-ticket races)?

by markjay 2008-05-22 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Well, anyone who had a serious problem with blurring the lines between Democrats and Republicans probably shouldn't have been supporting Obama in the first place!

Hagel would be 70 years old by the time the 2016 election rolls around.  I confess I simply do not see the scenario where he serves 8 years as Obama's VP and then turns right around and runs for election as a Republican.  Maybe it's just me.

I'm not sure I understand your point about down-ticket races.  To my mind, if lots of moderate voters are pulling the lever for Obama instead of McCain, that's likely to be good news for the down-ticket races.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Understand that while there are plenty of progressive Clinton supporters like you and I, it's really not the left flank that Obama needs to shore up for the GE.

I would tend to agree with you Steve, but if you haven't noticed, the problem with Obama amongst your compatriots seems to vacillate from too-conservative to too-liberal by the day. Smart, long-term thinking would have Obama reinforce his right flank. But at this point, the biggest problem with Obama on this site is that he isn't Hillary Clinton.

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Well, even though I posted the diary at this site, it's not necessarily the Clinton dead-enders I hope to persuade.

I have long been a critic of Obama for not running a sufficiently partisan campaign, for blaming "partisanship" as if it's everybody's fault.  That's all water under the bridge now.  He ran the campaign he ran, he is who he is, and my belief is that this VP choice would fit in very nicely with the themes of his campaign.

If Hillary were the nominee, I certainly wouldn't be suggesting Hagel as her VP.  She'd have different concerns and different problems to address.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I think it's a good idea too, Steve. I don't think you'll find a lot of support for it here, but it's definitely smart politics. It's also a way to keep Obama from straying too far from the center on certain issues (guns, abortion, etc.). On national security, Obama and Hagel seem to be largely of the same mind, which leaves only fiscal issues. I don't think Hagel is much of a plutocrat, so perhaps they can reach some kind of consensus. Entitlements do need to be reformed (despite what many liberals seem to believe -- ever heard of Baumol's cost disease?) so maybe we can exchange Social Security for single-payer in an Obama/Hagel administration.

by RP McMurphy 2008-05-22 09:31PM | 0 recs
I like Hagel as a person

But I don't like him on the ticket.... he's very pro-life I believe which would make me worry about Obama's safety

by CaptainMorgan 2008-05-22 09:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

The ticket would be awkward.  Obama needs a running mate who reinforces his message, not someone who contradicts it.  Hagel also drags Obama's poll numbers down to the floor in most match-ups.  

by BPK80 2008-05-22 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Don't you think it directly reinforces his themes of unity, change, and a different kind of politics?  A bipartisan ticket isn't something you see every day, and on foreign policy you're getting a direct reinforcement of Obama's substantive position.

by Steve M 2008-05-22 09:38PM | 0 recs
once you get out of the clouds...

you will see that hagel does in fact reinforce his message...

by bored now 2008-05-23 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

Well, it's certainly thinking outside the box.

by rfahey22 2008-05-22 09:39PM | 0 recs
Mr. Democratic Party Brand!

Obama does not have to make a choice until late August.  We will not really know where he stands against McCain in State polling until a few weeks after Clinton concedes.

This is a choice that is primarily about getting elected in the first place.

This is debatable.  What type of President they would be if they assumed the Presidency, the future of the Democratic Party and what type of Vice President they would be, are all major considerations.  You seem to give these factors no weight.  I know winning is paramount but the history of the impact of VP choices on people's thinking is thin, as you acknowledge...  

...who Obama chooses as VP does not affect my vote...

If you feel this way, what type of voter would you be appealing to with this choice where it would make a difference?  Low info voters?  High info voters know that Obama does not have a radical and extreme agenda.  Hagel has very low national name recognition and the time between the convention and the election is unusually short.  I agree that the novelty of this would be the main impression and storyline but Obama and his candidacy are novel enough and I think he will go with a more traditional and less risky choice (I'm currently sweet on Brian Schweitzer).  A risky and unconventional choice would suggest and acknowledge weakness (like Ferarro in 1984).

If you are going to go in this direction, I would think that someone with stature, like Colin Powell (who in my opinion, is apolitical and a social moderate), would be a better choice.  I was more intrigued with Powell as a VP possibility in 2007 but now I don't think that Obama will need him to win.  Hagel, Powell and even HRC are more Hail Mary choices if Obama is behind in late August which I do not believe will be the case.   But, we'll have to wait and see.  

by mboehm 2008-05-23 12:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Mr. Democratic Party Brand!

I don't really want to get into an argument because I've enjoyed the discussion in this diary, but I believe you are making the classic Democratic error of dividing the world up into two groups: "high info voters" who have the same information as you and therefore think as you do, and "low info voters" who we really shouldn't sully ourselves by worrying about.

I like Brian Schweitzer too and think he would be an excellent choice.  I don't really know what his game is, though.

I believe the argument I am making requires one to be relatively clear-eyed about Obama's electoral strengths and weaknesses.  If you believe he doesn't have any significant weaknesses and that all he has to do is make a safe pick and cruise to victory, then you're probably right, there's no need to rock the boat with this idea.

by Steve M 2008-05-23 06:52AM | 0 recs
This is just not going to happen Steve.

I appreciated the way he schooled Bush on the war, but that doesn't make him VP.  If he wants to be in the cabinet in a military role--Defense or Veteran Affairs--I'm all for it.  But I don't want him anywhere else, especially the VP.  

And the one big flaw in your argument?  We don't want him to be President.  Whether he runs for President after the VP stint or has to fill in for Obama for some reason, I don't want him a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

by The Distillery 2008-05-23 12:16AM | 0 recs
No

I think you make a perfectly good case, Steve -- plenty of merit there.

I'm even one of those 'post-partisan' Obama backers that thinks we CAN get along with the GOP (once we steal the left, center left, center, and even slice off the center right -- and leave them with the far right).

That said - I still think the VP job has to stay in the party and go to a loyal Democrat.  

No interest in Hagel (or Bloomberg, for that matter).

However, I don't vote for VP, either -- so I'm not especially invested in who Obama picks.   My personal pick would be Tim Kaine, but I'd be fine with any Democrat excepting Sam Nunn (in which case I'd grumble, but that's about it).

by zonk 2008-05-23 03:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I can't imagine a worse choice than a Republican in a state that will stay red because of an issue that was last election.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-05-23 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

I think it's an interesting idea, although I would prefer some other candidates.  But I agree with you that the "bipartisan ticket" theme would be pretty huge in attracting some of the indies and disaffected republicans that Obama likely lost because of Wright.  

Ultimately, I prefer Sebelius, Webb, or Schweitzer, all of whom also play into Obama's unity theme and all of whom were, iirc, against the war.  

by HSTruman 2008-05-23 05:11AM | 0 recs
Idea is crazy

I really can not comprehend why anyone thinks Hagel as VP is a good idea. Remember the VP is also there in case something happens to the President. Do you trust Hagel to carry on Obama's agenda if something would happen to him? I know Obama and Hagel are similiar in foreign policy but what about domestic. I can not see them implementing the same economic policies at all.  I'm sorry but Obama picking Hagel is like McCain picking Kucinich.

by harmony94 2008-05-23 05:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

oh god.

Hagel?  Sure, he seems like a nice guy, but damn-it - NO.

enough with this crap.  A few other posters stated it best - the SD's will swing it to Hillary if Obama picks a conservative republican

sure, Hagel is against the war, but wait A MINUTE!!!

He voted for the AUMF JUST LIKE HILLARY.  All the naysayers for Hillary being veep because Obama is so anti-Iraq and questions Hillary's "judgement" on the AUMF - you are going to have the same problem with Hagel.

and a lot of people will just go with McCain - if you think this is going to entice republicans over, forget about it.  the top dog is still a dem

by colebiancardi 2008-05-23 05:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

This election is set up to beat Republicans.  Therefore, I see no good reason to put one in the VP slot and, thus, to make him the frontrunner for 2016.  

Unless the math shows EVERY OTHER CHOICE losing to McCain, we need a Democrat on the ticket.  And that's nothing against Hagel, who at least seems to be much more principled than many of his Republican colleagues.  Should he be Obama's token Republican in the cabinet, I'd be ok with that, too.  But not VP.

by freedom78 2008-05-23 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

what about abortion rights, gay rights, Social Security, separation of church and state, and the environment? He would have to go 360 on those issues, because he is ultra-conservative on all of them. And that is not happening anytime soon. There would be no way to get the Hillary voters back on board with this kind of candidate, even the liberal base would find out about his conservative stances on everything, and wouldn't turn out. He would be a god awful choice.

by DiamondJay 2008-05-23 08:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama/Hagel '08

As I addressed in point #1, the VP does not have power over any of this unless the President wants him to.

by Steve M 2008-05-23 09:11AM | 0 recs

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