Bob Woodward injected a nice dose of adrenaline into Washington last night when he told CNN's John King that the highly speculative Biden-Clinton switch was actually "on the table." The idea of swapping Hillary Clinton in as vice president has come up a number of times in past months, but is usually shot down pretty quickly by DC political veterans.
Woodward tossing this in, though, added credibility. But then both DNC chairman Tim Kaine and White House senior advisor David Axelrod said it was nonsense. So what's going on here?
- Is Woodward Just Reporting One Man's Fantasy? New York Magazine's Dan Amira has a theory. "On page 26 of [Woodward's recently released book] Obama Wars, Woodward writes that Mark Penn, a Hillary Clinton adviser and confidant, has always thought the Switcheroo could happen in 2012, even back before Clinton accepted Obama's Secretary of State offer." So then:
Was Penn one of the "Hillary Clinton advisers" that Woodward was referring to yesterday? Probably! Because Woodward basically told Larry King the same thing a week ago that he told John King yesterday, but he framed it as something that had already been revealed in his book. ... So basically all this talk might just be based on the hopes and dreams of Mark Penn, and not much else. Glad everyone got worked up about it.
- Who Cares: It's a Great Idea "'On the table' could mean that it's some fantasy of Mark Penn's, and he's the only guy talking it up," admits The Guardian's Michael Tomasky. "But basically, this is actually a rather excellent idea ... The trick for all involved, of course, is to deny it, deny it, deny it--until the day they do it."
- No It's Not "Tutting Hillary on the ticket would be an admission of failure," declares The Spectator's Alex Massie, "and, should Obama be re-elected, leave him weak and in many ways less powerful than his Vice-President." He expands on this theme in his post, which is also worth reading for his naming Woodward "The Stenographic Sage."
- 'Not Likely, but Plausible,' judges the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jay Bookman. Biden, of course, given his "standing," would "have to agree to it, and maybe he would," given his "deep interest in international affairs"--the Secretary of State job could "appeal to him." But meanwhile, Bookman dismisses the "much more implausible scenario" that "discussing such a topic inevitably stirs talk of"--Hillary Clinton replacing not Biden, but Obama. Says Bookman: "that ain't gonna happen."
- The Last Time a Vice President Was Replaced "It's been more than three decades since a president has thrown his vice president overboard. A change at the top can be seen as a sign of disarray, panic even," writes Politics Daily's Tom Diemer. Diemer notes that Biden got some interesting support "Tuesday night from one of his predecessors, Walter Mondale. 'Joe Biden is truly a great vice president,' Mondale told a crowd in St. Paul, with Biden looking on." Then Diemer recalls that "the last president to make a change was Republican Gerald Ford, who replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller with Sen. Bob Dole in 1976 and went on to lose to a peanut farmer from Georgia named Jimmy Carter. Mondale was his running mate."