A Cautious Man
March 03, 2004
Well You Say You Got No New Dreams
There's a column in today's New York Times by Stephen Gillers, a professor of law at New York University, proposing that among the speculation about a Vice Presidential selection by John Kerry, "one name is conspicuously absent: Bill Clinton". See The Next Best Thing to Being President (link requires registration). After explaining that the Constitution only bars Mr. Clinton from being elected President again, he writes:
For Mr. Clinton, the appeal of the vice presidency is both political and personal. First, he could help his party win. Yes, Mr. Clinton remains a divisive figure in American politics — but not so much among Democrats. And surely many voters long for the strong economy and economic stewardship that was one of the hallmarks of his administration.With all due respect, I think Professor Gillers is thinking too small, here. Instead of VP, Senator Kerry should announce that, as President, when the Chief Justice retires the job will go to Bill Clinton.
Second, he could burnish his legacy. In exchange for joining the ticket, Mr. Clinton could negotiate for plum assignments as vice president. Mideast peace? National health care? Racial equality? He could focus on any or all of them. And from a purely personal standpoint, it might be especially gratifying for Mr. Clinton to be part of the team that defeats the man who four years ago promised to restore "character" to Mr. Clinton's own White House.
Seriously, can you picture it? Women would faint, and strong men weep, at the prospect of Chief Justice Clinton. Appointed for life, he could reign on and rain down from his judicial pinnacle for decades (at the same time still collecting hefty book royalties and honoraria). Sure, his confirmation hearing could be a little bumpy, but the same Senate that wouldn't convict him may also be more wary of a journey through the skeletons in their own closets. Republicans might even be reluctant to threaten such action during the election, considering that they are looking forward to the appointment of Justice Antonin "Duck Season" Scalia to that post.
Yes, I do believe that dangling the prospect of Bill Clinton in charge of our most sacred document, would finally make this Presidential election interesting.