Saturday, June 11, 2016

Madam Vice President?


If you needed any further evidence that Elizabeth Warren should be Hillary Clinton's running mate, all you had to do was watch her speak at the ACS Convention. Usually I don't pay much attention to speeches from politicians. Most of them are boring and predictable as dirt. We're great, they suck, yada, yada, yada. Frankly, I'd rather watch paint dry. But Warren is different. She's the EF Hutton of politicians. When she speaks, people listen.

Jimmy Stewart had nothing on Warren. She wasn't just passionate; she was mesmerizing. Me? I still have goosebumps. The way she tore into Donald Trump was a thing of beauty. I didn't know whether to laugh, applaud or cry. Tell you the truth, I did all three, sometimes at the same time. Later that night, on the Rachel Maddow show, she not only endorsed Clinton, but when Maddow asked her if she thought she was qualified to be president, she said, "Yes I do."

Well, let me second that. Warren's qualified. In fact, she's probably more qualified than most people in Washington, with the exception of her party's current nominee, and if Hillary knows what's good for her, she'll pick her as her number two. Frankly, I can't think of any one else who'd be better, and here's why.

The Base would love it: Look, there's no guarantee that Bernie Sanders will be able to reign in his supporters and deliver them for Hillary. While most will come around, there's a growing concern within the Democratic Party that enough of them might sit this one out, and if that happens, Trump wins the election.

Warren is deeply respected by the base and her presence on the ticket would solidify the party. It could also prevent Trump from stealing some of Bernie's supporters. And in an election that could potentially be decided by less than a million votes, it is vital that the Democrats get every voter they can out to the polls.

Warren drives Trump up the wall: For the last couple of weeks, Warren has gone after Trump in a series of tweets. It's clear that she's getting under his skin. It's well established that Trump has a HUGE problem with strong-willed women and always has. During the GOP debates, the only candidate that was able to put Trump in his place was Carly Florina. Both Clinton and Warren are twice the woman Fiorina is and they will prove to be a formidable tag team against Trump in the general.

Trump may have won the Republican nomination by making racist, misogynist comments, but a presidential election is another story. The general electorate isn't the GOP electorate. It's a lot more diverse and far less tolerant of inappropriate behavior. Already he's being called out for his comments on a Mexican judge. Running against two dominant women, Trump's thin skin will show itself. Calling Warren Pocahontas proves she's already getting to him. Imagine what he'll be like in another four and a half months.

The Senate's not a slam dunk. No, it's not. In fact, according to Larry Sabato, as of now the Democrats have 47 seats that are either safe, likely or lean and the Republicans have 48 that are the same. That leaves 5 tossups, among them Nevada, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Assuming the Dems hold onto Harry Reid's seat in Nevada, which would give them 48, that leaves 4 states from which to net 3 seats. The problem is they are trailing in one (Pennsylvania), leading slightly in another (Florida) and tied in the other two.

It's entirely possible they could go 0-fer, which means losing Warren's seat would be meaningless. With that in mind, the bigger priority has to be holding onto the White House. If Trump were to win, you can kiss the ACA goodbye along with a myriad of regulations from Dodd / Frank to the EPA. And the Supreme Court? That's gone too, along with 50 years of jurisprudence. Warren gives the Democrats a much better chance of keeping the GOP at bay as Hillary's vice president than as a member of a Senate minority.

Besides, Harry Reid may have come up with a plan that could potentially save Warren's seat in the event that it is needed to regain the majority. Massachusetts requires a special election to be held within 145 days of a vacancy. It is conceivable that Warren could file notice to vacate prior to the inauguration, thus limiting Republican governor Charlie Baker's ability to fill the seat. If Warren gives notice far enough in advance, she could conceivably force the special election to be held in time for the inauguration. Of course, should Clinton not win, it would be a double whammy. Not only would Democrats lose the White House, they would lose one of their best firebrands in Warren.

It's the Rust Belt states stupid. Trade, for better or worse, has taken center stage in this election. Both Trump and Sanders made it a cornerstone of their campaigns. Hillary's support for the TPP does not sit well in the midwest, particularly in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. In fact, Bernie beat her in Michigan, if only by a small margin. Trump would like nothing more than to turn the Keystone state red and flip Ohio. If he does, he can make this election a nail biter. In fact, typically when Republicans win the White House, they do so with Ohio. That's how George Bush barely defeated John Kerry in '04.

Warren can neutralize any advantage Trump might have in these states by pointing out how his policies would actually hurt blue-collar workers rather than help them. No matter what Hillary says, or does she doesn't have the weight or authority that Warren has with this voter group. Face it, the Clintons may be loved in a lot of places in the country; the industrial midwest is not one of them.

Don't worry about the Center. The fear among some in the party that Warren might drive away moderate or centrist voters is unfounded. First off, many of Warren's positions are shared by a good many voters. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans favor regulating Wall Street, higher taxes on the rich, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform and equal pay. Warren, far from driving away these voters, would attract more of them to Hillary and, more importantly, deprive Trump of one of his core arguments: that the Democrats don't care about them. And, while we're at it, you can dismiss all the "Republicans for Hillary" drivel. I'll believe this when pigs fly.

Looking at the other potential running mates, Tim Kaine does nothing for Clinton; if anything, he's a carbon copy of her: centrist, middle of the road. He neither expands her electoral map, nor shrinks it. Yes, he does no harm, but apart from that, I'm not feeling it. And while there's no doubt Julian Castro is the future of the Party, he does not have the name recognition nor the experience needed for what will be a grueling general election campaign.

No matter how many ways you slice it, Warren's name keeps coming up as the best choice. Yes, I know she's a woman and so is Clinton. I get it, two women on the same ticket. Sounds ridiculous, right? Yeah, just as ridiculous as the first 44 presidents and vice presidents all being men. I don't recall hearing a peep from anybody over their gender. And, yes, there's always the danger that Warren could upstage Clinton. But, given the stakes in this election, the risk is well worth it.

Eight years ago this nation took a leap of faith and elected its first black president. This year it could take an even greater leap of faith by electing not only its first woman president, but its first woman vice president.

Just imagine when they enter a room together: Madam President AND Madam Vice President. Now that would be a sight to behold. I can just picture the bumper sticker:

"Clinton - Warren 2016. Because It's About Damn Time."

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