The Vice Presidential Vacuum
06-06-2008
I recently suggested that Barack Obama should resolve the question of whether to partner with Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket, before moving on to a broader running mate search. To do otherwise risks undercutting the roll-out of his eventual pick, if the media is simultaneously preoccupied with the political drama of Clinton being passed over for the spot. It is possible that Clinton’s what does Hillary want moment on Tuesday actually bought Obama some more time, as Clinton supporters and party officials quickly backed away from the appearance of trying to force the presumptive nominee’s hand on the issue. But even if the pressure is off for the moment, Obama will still face the same difficult set of decisions in the near future.
 
Viewed in this light, Obama’s decision to maintain complete radio silence on all things vice presidential until the process is complete may actually serve to complicate matters. Establishing an information vacuum is probably the surest way to guarantee that the media will attempt to read the vice presidential tea leaves in ways that may cause the campaign unforeseen headaches. At a minimum, those with even a remote chance of making it onto the short list should be prepared to have their every waking moment monitored for signs that Obama is secretly showing them some vice presidential favor. While I understand the desire of the Obama campaign to avoid the media circus that accompanies the traditional parade of possible running mates, going to the other extreme may unintentionally create an even bigger one.


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