There's no current wisdom more conventional than that which has Hillary Clinton entirely out of the veepstakes. Take the opening of yesterday's Hardball, for example, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: It didn't get much notice in the media and it didn't show up in any newspaper obituary pages, but the idea of a Democratic ticket of Obama and Hillary Clinton died a very quiet death this week. How did the dream-team ticket disappear so fast and so quietly?
Introducing a later segment, Barnicle displayed a statement from a group that had been pushing the idea of Hillary for veep now saying that it's abandoned its effort "because it seems that Senator Obama has made his decision to offer the slot on the ticket to another candidate." The subsequent schmoozefest with Dem consultant Steve McMahon and Air America honcho Mark Green took it as a given that Hillary would not be the VP candidate, focusing instead on what other role she might play in the campaign.
View video here.
But not so fast . . .
Remember that Letterman Top 10: signs Barack Obama is overconfident? Number two was "announced his running mate will be Andy Dick." Funny, yes, but Letterman also had a point. Taking a weak running mate is a luxury, a sign a candidate is confident he can make it on his own.
But just how confident can Obama be today? His nine-point lead of just a week ago is gone. The latest Gallup poll shows him dead-even with McCain. And that's among all registered voters. A recent Gallup poll of likely voters actually showed McCain with a four-point lead.
What if the trend continues? What if by the time of the Dem convention, McCain has edged ahead among registered voters--at a point in the election calendar when Michael Dukakis was 17 points up on George H.W.? How good would Tim Kaine, or one of the other innocuous names being floated like Evan Bayh, be looking to the Obama folks at that point?
Consider on the other hand if at the convention Obama sprung the surprise announcement that Hillary would be the VP. Massive thunderbolt. Wall to wall coverage. McCain's message wiped from the radar screen for a week. Dem party revved to the max. Fundraising through the roof. Feminists enthralled. And putting the shoe on the other foot, if you're a McCain backer, aren't you hoping he takes a Tim Kaine? Wouldn't a Hillary nomination send a shiver of anxiety?
Think about it, and keep an eye on the polls . . .