Picking the running mates for the nominees is great fun, and it’s harmless because it doesn’t settle anything. Only a nominee gets to vote, and only the nominee knows.
But there’s always a smart guy or two who pretends to know what the nominee is thinking. Hillary Clinton is not yet the Democratic nominee, but the guessing game has begun on who she might choose to run with her. The Boston Globe quotes “senior campaign officials” as saying that “campaign strategists” are “intrigued” with the idea of choosing a woman to run with Hillary.
John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary’s campaign, does nothing to dampen the speculation, but the idea has all the signs of merely indulging the feminists. “We’ll start with a broad list,” he says, “and then begin to narrow it. But there is no question that there will be women on that list.” This put the name of Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, in play, where she has been trying to put it for months.
The idea of the speculation, fanned as it is from Hillary headquarters in Brooklyn, is to console Bernard Sanders’ followers, and to retain their enthusiasm crucial to Democratic prospects in November. Ms. Warren has never endorsed Hillary, which is a bright red mark against her because the Clintons prize loyalty above all, to themselves and not necessarily to God, country and party. But her friends say she would relish being the pit bull, and in recent days, as if auditioning, she has practiced scratching and biting Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Politics of the most fundamental kind say the speculation is way wide of the mark. A law professor from Harvard might help Hillary cast herself as a blue-denim populist, eager to work for the people, and not for the Wall Street hustlers to whom she and Bubba have presold access to the second Clinton White House. But selling that proposition to suspicious liberal Democrats would require a suspension of belief by people who know better.
Beyond the Thelma-and-Louise imagery, it’s not abundantly clear that Professor Warren would bring much actual campaigning help to the ticket. She inherited a slam-dunk in 2012, running against a Republican in one of the deepest blue of the blue states, and won by only 8 points on the day that Barack Obama carried Massachusetts by 23 points. Anyone enthralled by the movie can remember that Thelma and Louise drove their car off the cliff into the Grand Canyon. Not exactly a good analogy.
Not only that, but Ms. Warren would be under enormous pressure to resign her Senate seat — not to do so would be an admission that she didn’t really think she and Hillary would win — and her replacement would be appointed by a Republican governor. The Democrats think they can win back the Senate, but they’ll need every seat they’ve got now.
Elizabeth Warren might hanker to be Hillary Clinton’s pit bull, but the Republicans are likely to have the meanest pit bull themselves. A Hillary-Warren ticket would be novel, and it would put the country awash in angry estrogen. The idea is entertaining, but only as a parlor game.