July 11, 2012

Hillary for V.P.

Joe Biden wants a donation. He sends me emails, addressing me as “friend.” Friends I’ve actually met say I’m part of an email orgy, but I suspect the vice president has been talking to Mayoral Prince of Spin Darth Poynter, who scolded me as an “opinion-maker” — even before I began writing this visionary, electorally influential column a year ago. If the veep wants my endorsement for Obama’s re-election, he’s got it. But he won’t get what poco pesos I could afford to donate. I know he’s biting his pillow awaiting my reply, so I’m including it here, where he’s sure to see it.

Joe, I really like you — even more than Sally Field and almost as much as Julianna Margulies. You’re right up there with my favorite journalist Joes — Sonka, Gerth and Klein. But you’ve obviously mistaken me for someone who’s not as broke as our American democracy, er, plutocracy. Not everyone who lives within 2 miles of Mitch Machiavelli’s townhouse is wealthy.

I agree with you that the $100 million the Romney campaign and Republicans raised in June “is a massive sum.” If I had their money, I’d burn mine. And I’m inclined to concur that “We can still win even while getting outraised by these guys. But we’ve got to keep it close.”

I know you loathe soliciting cash from folks who are too strapped even to bake a special chocolate pie for Mitch (a la “The Help”). But even if all of your supporters were to give all they could afford, there’s no guarantee it would be enough to overcome the corporate cash that’s corrupted our republic and made Congress a lapdog of lobbyists.

That’s why I’m asking you to do something really mavericky — something guaranteed to secure your place in history as the most selfless veep ever: Step aside and persuade Hillary to run for vice president.

Nobody thinks you’ll be dumped from the ticket. If you were, “the bridges burned within party power circles could be seen from space,” according to Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News. That’s why you’ve got to volunteer. Davis makes a compelling case that “it may be the only way Obama can win” as Mitt Romney makes “gains among the independent vote Obama rode to victory in 2008.”

What’s more, no president has been re-elected with unemployment as high as 8.2 percent. Recent reports that gas prices would drop as low as $3 per gallon have been revised. And this summer drought and massive crop losses mean the cost of groceries will spike before November’s election.

That’s why Romney may be right when he says, “If I keep talking about the economy, I’m gonna win.”

Liberal guru Mark Shields said on last weekend’s “Inside Washington” broadcast, “I look at the economy and I think there’s no way Barack Obama can be re-elected. And then I look at Mitt Romney and I think there’s no way Barack Obama can lose.”

Thus far, Romney has run a ruinous campaign. And getting him to commit to a position without flip-flopping is like nailing Silly Putty to a feral pig.

But the economy remains the elephant in the room. Domestic misery is pervasive, and you remember when candidate Ronald Reagan used the four-year “misery index” to beat incumbent President Jimmy Carter like a circus monkey. That’s when the 1 percent started trickling down on the rest of us in earnest.

Hillary as the likely first woman vice president would mobilize a vital constit-uency and remain a spectacular distraction to the stagnant economy throughout the campaign. She would provide the unabated excitement GOP presidential candidate John McCain sought when he tragically opted to run with Sarah “Vain and Tall” Palin, who proved to be more abrasive as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Hillary, by contrast, has been thoroughly vetted. She’s tough, trusted and tested. She brings staggeringly high approval ratings to the table — and fierce loyalists who would be eager to knock on doors. Many of us are nostalgic for the Clinton era and its terminal surplus. My refrigerator magnet says it all: “Come back Bill; all is forgiven.”

Moving the White House forward on same-sex marriage was a milestone toward a more perfect union, a more egalitarian nation. But imagine that as half your legacy. You can evolve that idea, finish that thought. Mr. Vice President, tear down this wall.