Every now and then, you run across an idea so incredibly, astonishingly, mind-bogglingly stupid, you just have to sit and stare, dumbfounded, that anyone could have ever thought it was remotely feasible. And then, as you stare at it, you realized that it’s so stupid, you could actually support it — because it’s being pushed by the other side, and they don’t seem to realize just how badly it could backfire on them.
For example, this notion over at Politico that next year, Joe Biden could step aside for “family” or “health” reasons, and be replaced on the ticket by Bill Clinton.
I’ll get back to the huge flaw in the plan, but first, let’s look at the idea on its own merits. There’s no doubt that Bill Clinton would be preferable to Obama, but I just can’t see him taking the veep slot. The jobs should be reversed, if each man were to play to their strengths. Clinton is a career executive and has eight years as a moderately successful president; Obama was a career legislator. He’d be better suited (on paper) to the veep slot, where he would preside over the Senate. But I don’t see either man subsuming their ego to take the number two slot.
But there’s a huge legal problem that Politico attempts to double-talk its way past. And that is that Bill Clinton is Constitutionally prohibited from serving as vice-president — to most interpretations.
Thanks to the 22nd Amendment, presidents are limited to two terms, and a total of ten years less one day in office. As Clinton served eight years, he’s done. He can’t run again. In theory, under some very bizarre circumstances, he could serve less than half a term if he were to succeed into the office, and that’s how Politico hangs its theory.
But the problem is, the Constitution specifies the qualifications for vice-president are the same as president — and if he can’t run for president, he can’t run for veep. The 12th Amendment makes it indisputable:
But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Doesn’t get any clearer than that.
But what is not debatable in the least is that if he was veep and Obama were to leave office before his second term was over, Clinton could not assume the office. Which would mean that the presidency would pass to the next person in the line of succession.
And unless the Democrats retake Congress next year (an extremely remote possibility), the presidency would then pass to the Republican Speaker of the House — most likely John Boehner.
So, if Obama does dump Biden for Bill Clinton next year, he’s guaranteeing that his campaign will get wrapped up in huge legal fights and trigger a Constitutional crisis, just when he’s supposed to be campaigning for re-election. And even if he wins both the legal challenges and the campaign, he’ll have made sure that the Republicans will retake the White House if he doesn’t serve at least half his term.
On the other hand, he’ll have taken Bill Clinton and stuck him into one of the most powerless and ineffective political offices around — meaning that Clinton will either get incredibly frustrated and bored, or he’ll start subtly challenging Obama’s authority. And as we saw last December, Obama has no interest in fighting such a fight — he’d be glad to let Bill take over large parts of his job.
So, yeah, Obama administration, dump Joe Biden (the most honest guy in the administration, only because he’s to clueless to lie coherently) and bring in Bill Clinton. I triple dog dare you.
It will be glorious.