Two rumors circulated today. One is that Obama has begun the process of selecting a Vice President. The other, which seems to have gained steam through the day, is that Bill Clinton wants Hillary to be Obama’s Vice President.
While I think Hillary as V.P. is a horrible idea, all the buzz got me wondering: could Hillary even survive the Vice Presidential vetting process? Some background, courtesy of Marc Ambinder, about Jim Johnson who is leading the search for Obama — and the vetting process:
Johnson, a former CEO of Fannie Mae who is currently vice chairman of Perseus LLC, a merchant bank, also vetted vice presidential candidates for Walter Mondale, whose campaign he chaired. On the eve of the convention in 1984, Mr. Mondale was set to choose Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, only to find irreconcilable political problems with the business dealings of Ms. Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro instead. Ironically, questions about Ferraro’s husband, a real estate developer, would dog her throughout the general election campaign. Mr. Johnson said later that the experience if 1984 had taught him to start much earlier and vet much more thoroughly.
The vetting process entails a rigorous schedule of interviews focusing on everything from politics to potential embarrassments — Did they ever employ a nanny on whose behalf they did not pay Social Security taxes, for example; did they experiment with drugs or people in college? — and potential candidates are required to give the search team access to their tax returns and other financial records.
This sounds pretty rigorous — and the potential V.P. nominees have to comply.
Hillary always claims she’s fully vetted, but that’s not true. And, the vetting process includes the spouse.
Basically, this means Obama’s vetting team would have access to all the Clinton’s records — all the stuff that hasn’t become public. The Clintons would have to open up the library funders and foundation donors. They’d have to name everyone who has paid Bill Clinton to speak or do any other work. They’d investigate all of Bill’s dealings with Ron Burkle, for example. And, for sure, they’d have to investigate a lot of other rumors that swirl about.
The Clintons can keep their own secrets when they run the show. But, this won’t be their show. They won’t have Howard Wolfson and his team stonewalling reporters who are asking prying questions.
If the Clintons want the V.P. job, they can’t say no to any question asked. And, it’s pretty clear that Jim Johnson knows what questions to ask. That seems like a risky proposition for the Clintons. Sure would be fun to be a fly on the wall during those interviews.