Ernest Hemingway advised young writers to write one true sentence. For the 2012 campaign one true sentence is this: A great nightmare for Republican strategists is that President Obama might pull a “JFK in 1960” and run with Hillary Clinton for vice president. If he does, it will lift the chances of Democrats substantially, bend the curve of history dramatically and give him a chance to reach for historical greatness in his second term.
I have focused on this matter so intensely because I believe the possibilities of this decision are so momentous, the consequences for this election are so enormous, and the state of the union is so precarious as America and the world sail again into stormy economic seas. Consider this column, on this matter, my final summation to the jury of one.
My thesis about the 2012 election is this:
The election will not ultimately be won by the candidate who most aggressively charges: You would be even worse off with my opponent than with me. It will not be won by the candidate who most cleverly asks: Are you better off than you were four years ago? It will be won by the candidate who most convincingly answers: Here is how you will be better off four years from now.
I have supported the president’s tough campaign against Mitt Romney. But at this moment, in this nation, this is not enough. If the remaining months of the 2012 campaign are conducted with the two-way negativity that is so repellent and obnoxious to voters who hunger for a roadmap to a better future, America will be doomed to four more years of dysfunctional and discredited government and politics of antagonism and gridlock.
As Michael Douglas said in “The American President”: These are serious times. They demand serious solutions. They require serious people. It is not enough for politicians to tell us why we should be afraid and whom we should blame.
America needs leaders with the clarity and courage to show us a better way. America needs a president who can govern with some mandate and authority, and a Congress that can act with some collegiality and functionality. In my view, that president should be Barack Obama and that mandate and roadmap become more clear and achievable if he runs with Hillary Clinton.
Obviously Hillary increases enthusiasm, excitement and turnout for Democrats in an election that could be decided by turnout. Hillary substantially increases Democratic fundraising in an election that could be decided by money. Hillary would help elect more Democrats to the House and Senate in a government that must break the gridlock for any president to govern effectively.
Obviously, Barack Obama would bend the curve of history by bringing the first woman to the vice presidency, thrilling countless women across the nation and around the world while reassuring voters, male and female, young and old, from Florida to Ohio.
President Obama has already begun to build his legacy. He led the economic battle that prevented a new global depression. He turned a financial crash into renewed job creation. He sowed the seeds for improved healthcare and clean energy. He fiercely defended America and courageously gave the order to kill our No. 1 enemy. He did this despite opponents who obstruct all progress, tolerate a politics of hate and fervently hope his presidency fails even if their partisanship imposes pain on the nation.
President Kennedy, in one of his first televised news conferences in 1961, spoke of pay equity for women. Think about that. I propose that President Obama, Hillary Clinton and all Democrats promise and wage a four-year legacy battle to create full pay equity for all women and to bring the words “full employment” back to the center of our national discourse, national mission and national life.
I think that wins more votes than Mitt Romney singing. Don’t you?
(The Monday Line returns next week. -Ed.)