Why Hillary Clinton Will Never Be Vice President

bonnie-goldstein

Bonnie Goldstein

Woman Up Editor
Posted:
10/9/10
Last week Washington was abuzz denying (or repeating) speculation by investigative journalist Bob Woodward of Woodward and Bernstein Watergate fame. Woodward told CNN it was "on the table" in Obama's camp for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden to exchange places before the 2012 election. He later backtracked (after the president's spokesman called the rumor "just absolutely not true"), but whatever was Bob Woodward thinking?
The former first lady is not remotely interested in the vice president's job. Don't get me wrong, as Washington jobs go, Vice President of the United States is nothing to scoff at. In addition to guaranteed invitations to state dinners, the office also comes with access, opportunity and influence.
While historically the VP post has been largely ceremonial, recent former vice presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney both acted as back up commanders in chief (especially Cheney). They served their respective administrations as assistant presidents with all the pulpit and power implied (also, crested White House stationery).
Hillary ClintonWoodward's idea has merit from VP Biden's standpoint. Prior to (eagerly) joining the ticket of an ascendant Barack Obama in August 2008, Biden was the eminence gris chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He could probably do a decent job as top ambassador, and a cabinet post would be a nice career topper. He'd eventually live out his days at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Hillary Clinton, as a viable contender in 2016 for her boss' job, has different goals. The 61-year-old stateswoman has her briefcase full working toward peace in the Middle East and needs to marshal her energy.
As part of a two career couple, Hillary Rodham Clinton's policymaking moments started relatively late in her life. As a young woman during the politically turbulent 1970s, she was a staff member in the halls of Congress. In those years, on the family hierarchy of needs, her husband's career was the more important. Like many wives, she famously let her profession take a back seat to his.
Since her husband's semi-retirement, Mrs. Clinton has gracefully and effectively pursued her own career ambitions (and I for one am appreciating the cracks in the glass ceiling). Being secretary of state has a broad global impact and, although it requires a lot of time out of town, offers her many opportunities for principled policy. She seems tired but happy.

Nevertheless, I am the same age as Hillary and suspect that she must only have so much stamina. Delayed gratification comes at a cost.

I can envision one last Clinton run for president in six years. But it's hard to imagine in two, instead of a steady job brokering peace, Hillary would be (again) campaigning for someone else to sit in the Oval Office. Woodward might know how to follow the money, but he has a lot to learn about middle-aged women.