Now for the hard part: What to do with Hillary.
I have a question for all of you PR Junkies reading this. If you were part of Obama's inner circle, how would you handle this powder keg of an issue? If you were Communications Director, what would you advise?
But first let's review the game.
The long national nightmare is indeed over. The Democratic primaries, which now seem longer than the NBA playoffs, have come to a historic end. Barack Obama will be the first Black man ever to run for president.
Barack, take a few minutes off and enjoy the splendor of it all.....
Done? Good, now it's time to grapple with the Hillary question.
Like her husband, Hillary Clinton has this annoying tendency of never going away. And this could become a PR and media disaster for Obama if he doesn't handle her the exact right way. This newly victorious and articulate leader of the Democratic Party is one misstep away from alienating Hillary supporters. One soundbite, one ill-chosen phrase could unleash a civil war between the two camps.
Obama took the first step last night toward reconciliation by devoting a huge chunk of his victory speech to Clinton.
His homage to her was so persuasive, so all-encompassing that one wanted to rush out and add a Hillary Clinton statue to the National Mall in Washington.
Unfortunately, this will not be enough.
In a move that my PR friend Fraser Seitel descirbed to Fox News last night as "blatant chutzpah," Clinton told a group of lawmakers that yes, she would accept Obama's offer of the VP slot. By doing this, Clinton made sure that Obama would not enjoy his spotlight alone. By squeezing the vice presidential question into the news before the primary results from South Dakota and Montana were in, Clinton stepped into that circle of light. And believe me, she's not going away.
So what does Obama do now?
If he chooses Clinton as his vice presidential running mate, he must live with a candidate whose ego is so large and whose presence is so big that Obama runs the risk of being overshadowed. Is it possible for Hillary to take a subservient role here?
Then there's the very real political question involving the one word Obama pounded into our heads since Iowa: Change. How are you the candidate for change if you're putting the one person on the ticket who represents the old way.
“It’s backward looking to pick a Clinton at this point — and he’s all about forward looking, to being about change,” Matt Bennett, a co-founder of Third Way, a moderate Democratic organization to The New York Times this morning. “He’s all about a fundamentally new kind of politics. Picking a Clinton is by definition backward looking, and I just don’t think he wants that.”
Then there's the bizarre question of what to do about Bill. If you're having a difficult time grasping the enormity of this question, then imagine Bill Clinton in the vice presidential mansion with nothing to do.
Better hide the china because something's gonna break.