The Plank

When Spins Collide

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Hillary Clinton's main argument for the presidency is that she is ready to be commander-in-chief, and Barack Obama is not. At the same time, her campaign has repeatedly floated the prospect that she could add him to her ticket as vice-President (which her polling apparently shows might attract wavering voters who like both to vote for her.) But how could she put him a heartbeat away froma  job for which he's totally unqualified? Reporters have started to ask the question.

Clinton's chief spokesman tried to square the positions thusly:

Howard Wolfson, Clinton's chief spokesman, said during a conference call with reporters that Clinton would not pick a running mate who has not met the “national security threshold” as Clinton’s military advisers and Wolfson put it on the call but that it is possible Obama could meet that threshold by this summer's Democratic convention.

Wolfson repeated Clinton's weekend assertion that picking Obama is “not something she would rule out at this point,” but he also repeated that Obama is not ready to be commander in chief, a key requirement to being Clinton’s running mate.

When asked if Obama could do something to cross that “threshold,” Wolfson said, “It’s not something that I’m prepared to rule out at this time.”

But wait -- if Obama could cross the threshold by this summer, why not vote for him, since he'd still have another six months before he assumed office?

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was asked the same thing about Obama's alleged unreadiness, and replied, "That's politics." Now, there's often a lot of comedy when campaign flaks have to justify the sort of spin that always goes on in campaigns. But the claim that Obama isn't ready to be president isn't ordinary spin, it's the central rationale for Clinton's candidacy. Now her campaign is tacitly admitting it's pure bullshit, just something she has to say to get elected.

Okay, now that they've admitted it, can we re-vote Ohio and Texas?

--Jonathan Chait

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