Flavia Monteiro Colgan: Hillary's confused veepstakes

Posted: March 12, 2008

SEN. Hillary Clinton may have been able to play some other parts of the country for suckers, but she's in for a rude awakening in no-nonsense Philly - like her drop-in at Temple last night.

Over the last couple of weeks, as part of her "throwing the kitchen sink"-at-Barack-Obama strategy, Clinton has started to maintain that only she and John McCain are ready to assume the the presidency, and the role of commander in chief. No fewer than four times now, she's said that she and John McCain will bring a "lifetime of experience" to the White House, while Sen. Obama will bring "a speech from 2002," referring to his prescient speech warning against war with Iraq.

She has also said that only she and McCain have crossed the "commander in chief threshold," and Sen. Obama has not. And, of course, who can forget the infamous "3 a.m. phone call" ad?

Together, her statements are hard-hitting, and make clear that she believes that not only is Sen. Obama less qualified than Sen. McCain to be president, but that he has no business even getting close to the White House.

At the same time, she's certainly made an effort to woo voters with the prospect of being able to vote for both of the woman and the African-American as part of a Clinton-Obama ticket, though Sen. Obama has flatly rejected the idea, saying, "You won't see me as a vice presidential candidate."

Nonetheless, last week in Mississippi, Sen. Clinton said that voters who would like to vote for both of them at the same time might get that chance "someday." Just a day later, Bill Clinton said such a ticket would be "almost unstoppable," promoting the prospect.

Well, simple logic tells you that you can't have it both ways. The No. 1 reason a candidate picks a particular vice-presidential running mate is that that person is "ready on day one" (or so they say). Indeed, Bill Clinton in 1992 said of Al Gore, "And above all, I said I wanted a vice president who would be ready, should something happen to me, to immediately assume the office of president of the United States."


That's the way it should be. It's not so long ago that Gerald Ford took over for Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson took over for John Kennedy and Harry Truman had to step in for FDR.

Sometimes, there's no time for on-the-job training, either. William Henry Harrison died just 30 days into office, leaving John Tyler to jump right in.

Sen. Clinton can't have it both ways, even though she'd like to fool you into thinking that she can. Either Sen. Obama is so unqualified for office that she wouldn't possibly risk the nation by making him her vice president, or she thinks that he is eminently qualified to step in and be commander in chief on day one.

So, as Hillary Clinton tours the Philadelphia area, why don't you ask her for a dose of truth? Let her know that Philadelphians don't like to be played for dummies. *

Flavia Colgan is a member of the Daily News editorial board. Check out her blog, CitizenHunter, at www.citizenhunter.com.

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