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David A. Bell On The Unity Ticket

The notion of a Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton "unity ticket" has been floated quite a bit the last few days. But, seriously, is the idea any good? We asked a few friends of the magazine to weigh in. Here's David A. Bell, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and a contributing editor for The New Republic.

10 Reasons for Barack Obama not to pick Hillary Clinton as his Vice President: 

1. It's wrong to say that Hillary has survived the worst the Republicans have thrown against her. In a national election, the sort of attacks which had little traction in New York senate races and the Ohio or Pennsylvania primaries could well drag her--and Obama--down. Should Obama have to spend part of his presidential campaign defending the Clintons, of all people, when Travelgate, Whitewater, Vince Foster, the Lincoln Bedroom, Marc Rich, Norman Hsu, Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Monica, and Bosnia all come oozing back up into our political life?

2. How can Obama possibly campaign as the incarnation of the future, and the repudiation of the Bad Old Politics of the Past, when he has Hillary standing next to him?

3. Dynasticism in a minor, vice-presidential key is still dynasticism, and the country is sick of it. Is John McCain going to pick Jeb Bush as his running mate? (and if it wasn't for the last name, he well might).

4. Bill. If Hillary, of all people, couldn't stop him from harming the campaign he was supposed to be helping, can Barack?

5. Hillary has simply gone too far claiming that Obama is unready to be president. Her lines will be flung back in her face--and his--endlessly by the Republicans, and in debates.

6. This seems to be one case that disproves the adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. In 2016, after a second Obama term, Hillary will be nearly 70. Does anyone think she is going to be content to put her own ambitions aside until then, and be nothing but a good team player?

7. Why should Obama give up a chance to put someone with real executive experience on the ticket? This is a weakness of his, and Hillary will not help to address it seriously, despite her vaunted "35 years."

8. A great deal of the political fence-mending that he would accomplish by choosing Hilary could be done just as well by choosing her strong supporter Evan Bayh.

9. Hillary is not Lyndon Johnson. She probably can't bring him anywhere near the number of electoral votes that Johnson brought to the Democratic ticket in 1960 (she certainly can't steal Texas for him!).

10. The obvious, unfortunate, Unevolved Nation reason, namely that some voters will be comforted by a white male on the ticket. Should Obama pay attention to this factor? No. Will he? Good question.

--David A. Bell

Alan Wolfe: Using identity politics to move beyond identity politics.
Ed Kilgore: Obama should ask her, and she should accept.
Mark Schmitt: The party doesn't need that much repairing.
Michael Tomasky: He can do better in both substantive and symbolic terms.