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08.16.12

Dump Joe Biden? Nah

Sorry, Sarah, Obama isn't putting Hillary on the ticket.

The dump-Biden movement is getting a lot of play at the moment.

Which is remarkable, given that it’s based on a total fantasy.

The more intriguing question is why conservatives are pushing the notion that Hillary should replace Joe on the ticket. A newfound respect for the skills of the secretary of State? Nah. They’re probably just stirring up trouble.

A year ago, there was maybe a tiny chance that Barack Obama would conclude that the woman he ran against in 2008 would give him such a boost as his running mate that he had to make the switch. But now, less than three weeks before the Democratic convention in Charlotte? Come on.

But there it was on Thursday, a screaming Drudge headline: “WH MEET: OBAMA, BIDEN, CLINTON.” As if they were all getting together to orchestrate the musical chairs. Right.

Drudge linked to a one-sentence Weekly Standard piece that said the meeting, followed by a POTUS-VPOTUS weekly lunch, could “further fuel  speculation”—as in the piece the day before in Bill Kristol’s magazine headlined, “Obama Still Has Time to Dump Biden.”

But wait! Some national political figures think this is a good idea!

“Really,” Sarah Palin told Fox News about the man she called Joe in the debate, “the strategists there in the Obama campaign have got to look at a diplomatic way of replacing Joe Biden on the ticket with Hillary.” What’s more, said the woman who had a, shall we say, challenging campaign for VP, “an Obama/Clinton ticket would have a darn good chance of winning.”     

John McCain echoed the assessment in a separate Fox interview. “I think it might be wise to do that,” he said. McCain at least noted that “it’s not going to happen,” adding this dig: “If I were Hillary Clinton, I’m not sure I’d want to be on that team.”

So their agenda is pretty clear: Scuff up the Obama-Biden ticket by saying it would sure be in the president’s interest to get himself a new running mate—and have some fun in the process.

Biden opened the door to the latest round of chatter with his gaffe earlier this week. The vice president was addressing a campaign rally in Virginia and talking about how Mitt Romney, if he made it to the Oval Office, was “going to let the big banks once again write their own rules—unchain Wall Street.”

He then added: “They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

That racially charged slavery metaphor, though Biden insists he was talking about deregulation, was unfortunate. The president had to dismiss it as a distraction. And it revived Biden’s image as a politician whose mouth sometimes outruns his brain.

He can get carried away, as we saw in his declaration that health care reform was a BFD. But the recent gossip obscures the fact that Biden has been an effective and passionate advocate for his boss, connecting with blue-collar audiences in a visceral way. He also wields substantial influence in the administration, from foreign policy (where he had far more experience than Obama) to relations with Capitol Hill.

Is dumping an incumbent vice president unprecedented? As the Standard notes, it hasn’t happened since 1944, when FDR dropped Henry Wallace at the convention in favor of Harry Truman, which turned out, of course, to have huge historical consequences. Even if Obama was tempted to join forces with Hillary Clinton, imagine how disorganized and desperate such a last-minute move would look.

Joe Biden is a lock to be renominated in Charlotte. Everything else is just the sort of humid hot air that emanates from Washington in August.