Conspiracy theories are something much more associated with the radical left, as demonstrated by the now largely debunked railings of “9-11 Truthers,” a constituency that showed surprising strength among UFO enthusiasts and among radical bastions like those found on the campuses of some of the country’s most liberal universities. Nevertheless, “forecasting” remains a necessary part of strategic warning, something more art than science and therefore always involving risk. If you’re wrong, you bear criticism. Even if you’re right, you may seem wrong because your projection may preempt the opposition’s strategy. In that case, what was forecasted didn’t come to fruition. Prognostication is a risky business, but with that in mind, let’s play out a “what if?” scenario. With the White House quelling recent speculation that it may be time to revamp the veep spot on the Obama-Biden ticket, one can’t help but ask, what if?
Vice President Joe Biden’s recent gaffe, made before a racially mixed crowd in Danville, Virginia, stating Republicans sought to put “y’all back in chains,” prompted distain from his opponents and raised hackles among many Democrats, including some blacks. Later in the speech, the veep seemed to forget where he was when, as he attempted to stir the crowd’s passions, he noted that a victory in North Carolina would presage victory in the election. Wrong state, Joe.
Meanwhile, the Romney-Ryan campaign heightened their expectations for a confrontation between Representative Paul Ryan and the Vice President Biden. At the very least, since Ryan’s grasp of budget and economic matters far exceeds that of the vice president, his candidacy focuses the discussion on the economy, precisely where the Obama administration is most vulnerable. Pitting Ryan against Biden presents the Obama campaign with an enormous challenge. While the election won’t hinge on the outcome of the vice presidential debate, Ryan’s candidacy will auger well with independent voters, especially the better educated, younger voters wary of a bleak economic outlook. In short, Ryan is a boost to the Republican’s chances while Biden’s candidacy is a drag on an already wearied and troubled Democratic candidacy.
The vice president’s age, his health problems, and a long series of verbal missteps, from asking a wheel-chair bound supporter to “stand up” during the last campaign, through the “big f—ing deal” comment at the Obamacare bill signing, to this latest effort to incite racial fears, could still inspire a bold move to change the ticket. What if, prior to the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, due to personal or health reasons, Vice President Biden suddenly decides to retire? While some have denied Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s interest in filling such a void, if the campaign were to coax her into the position, the Romney-Ryan ticket is toast.
Biden brings the Democratic ticket nothing it doesn’t already have: namely unions and blue-collar voters in the already solidly blue northeast and Rust Belt states. His recent remarks probably won’t drive away legions of black supporters, but it could create enough ambivalence to dampen a portion of the turnout. Among the larger cohort of white independents Biden cannot inspire great confidence, especially among the significant portion of educated voters in the 25 to 45 demographic, a group more likely to identify with Ryan’s comparative youth rather than Biden, who is a generation older.
A Hillary Clinton candidacy would solidify support among women and shore up flagging independents. She also brings four years of foreign policy experience which will focus on the United States having ended its combat presence in Iraq and conducting a series of drone strikes and special operations missions that bagged Osama bin Laden and killed off several other key al Qaeda leaders. Indeed, Secretary Clinton’s stint at Foggy Bottom represents a relatively bright spot in an otherwise dismal four-year Obama administration. Her foreign policy experience would veer the discussion away from domestic economics back to international relations, where Ryan is a novice and Romney is inexperienced. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is a seasoned, articulate campaigner who will not be eclipsed by Ryan either on the stump or in their debate.
A Clinton candidacy would do much to rekindle the “magic” of the Clinton years, at least in the popular imagination. Just having the president and first lady standing side by side with the Clinton’s at the conclusion of the Democratic Convention would make for an awesome conclusion. Putting Bill and Hillary on the campaign trail would inspire the base, bring back independents, and prove strong among younger voters who might otherwise chill come November.
Finally, Hillary Clinton offers the Democrats the opportunity to “complete change” by looking forward to 12 rather than four more years. After four years as secretary of state and four as vice president, Hillary Rodham Clinton will be superbly situated to carry the mantle of change onto the end of the first quarter of the 21st century. Her ideology is more attuned to that of President Obama than is that of her husband. She also is more experienced, arguably savvier, her background and elite education are matters of public record, and she’s a tough politician. After 16 years of determined effort by January 2025, the radicalization of America will be completed. The United States will be a one-party country and the Republic, with its capitalist and democratic roots, may be history.
Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan was a bold move. If Team Obama counters with a Hillary Clinton candidacy, it’s a new race and one much more promising for the Democrats.
Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.