Hillary Clinton has gone through more reincarnations than Shirley MacLaine, who insists that when she was a Moorish girl in the ninth century she had an affair with Charlemagne. Hillary has no such exotic tales in her past - Bubba is exotic enough - but she has gone through a number of roles for women who no longer stay home and bake cookies.
She was not content to stay home to be a first lady and was perceived as a "co-president" before her disastrous scheme for reforming health care put a humiliating end to that. She was elected senator from New York to enable a run for president, losing to the man in the White House now. She and Barack Obama kissed and made up, and he made her secretary of state. She has done well as the president's mouthpiece overseas.
Now the inside-the-Beltway buzz, accelerating to the decibel level of a four-alarm fire, is that Mr. Obama should dump Joe Biden and replace him with Hillary. In one scenario, Hillary and Joe merely trade places, but that would require Hillary to resign from the Cabinet, easily enough done, but such a trade would further require a cure for Joe's foot-and-mouth disease. Not so easily done.
Joe's forcing the president's hand on same-sex marriage before he was fully evolved was followed last week by a full meltdown on the stump in Youngstown, Pa. "They don't get us!" he screamed, before lapsing into an incoherent rant about rich Republicans. "They don't get who we are. My mother believed and my father believed that if I wanted to be president of the United States, that I could be."
Then he quickly remembered who he is. "I could be vice president!"
No mother before or since has dreamed of her boy growing up to be the vice president, and anyone who has sat through Psychology 101 would recognize someone overcompensating for the fear that he might actually be thrown under that crowded Obama bus to nowhere.
But wait. There may be presidential method in this motormouth madness. Joe Biden is comic relief. He has become almost lovable as a clown, providing a convenient distraction from serious problems of state. If Hillary replaces him, she becomes the inconvenient distraction, highlighting the president's weakness and insecurity, reprising Bill Clinton's boast that with Hillary on the ticket, the voters would get "two for the price of one." Bill, for the most part, has stuck to his role as an elder philanthropist, and he hasn't crashed Mr. Obama's party. But he probably couldn't restrain himself as the spouse of the veep. Making her secretary of state kept Hillary flying solo around the world, where she could only make mischief in Upper Slobovia or Lower Volta. The vice presidency would be too close.
Hillary naturally denies wanting the second-tier job. That's what they all have to say. "Being a vice president is kind of like being a first lady," she told the New York Times. "You are there to support and serve the president." Been there, done that. Walter Mondale, who was Jimmy Carter's veep, describes the office as "a four-year non-divorceable marriage."
Hillary knows what any savvy coed knows, that a woman is never more desirable than when she is unavailable. Every denial of interest fans the flames. Oxygen fed those flames with one poll shocker that Mitt Romney leads the president among women by 46 percent to 44 percent. It was a tiny margin well within the margin of error but scary to Democrats because many other polls had shown Mr. Obama with big leads among women.
Female voters are expected to believe that the GOP is conducting a war on women. The stages of a woman's life in an Obama Internet commercial called "The Life of Julia" depicts a woman as dependent on government, from cradle to senior citizenship, and reflects the demeaning Democratic view of women. So does the suggestion that women, even college graduates, need someone else to pay for their birth-control devices. That's not exactly what Betty Friedan had in mind for the liberation of women.
When Hillary was in the White House, channeling Eleanor Roosevelt, her psychic friend Jean Houston said she carried the burden of "5,000 years of subservience to men" and compared her to Joan of Arc. Hillary seems to have worked through most of her bad karma, but she would tempt fate as the veep. The president wouldn't look so hot, either. The vice presidency has been described as, among a lot of other insignificant things, a spare tire you only need when another tire goes flat. What woman wants to be a spare tire?
Suzanne Fields is a syndicated columnist.
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