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Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and the problem with political 'news'

Good for Bob Woodward. While out selling his new book, "Obama's Wars," an interesting look inside the administration’s decision-making process on foreign policy, he decided to stir things up a bit. So he floated his now famous idea that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden might swap jobs in 2012.

For cable television shows, this was like chum to fish. The story has now occupied several news cycles and probably hasn't stopped spinning yet. It doesn't matter if everybody inside the administration knocks the story down. "They would say that, wouldn't they?" is a response that allows the story to keep going, impervious to what anyone says.

But what this says about the current state of political "news" is not good. First, this swap is not even new speculation. In fact, it's the third time around for this story. Sally Quinn broached the idea in The Post back in June and Chris Matthews suggested it in August. Second and more important, we are a month away from a fascinating and genuinely important election that involves a big choice for voters. There is political news galore out there, actual issues between the parties. Why go on this side track?

If Republicans take over one of both houses of Congress, there will be a switch all right. How about a little attention to what difference it would make for John Boehner to take the speakership from Nancy Pelosi? How about a look at how a transition from Democratic to Republican chairs of the various Congressional committees would affect us all? And don't tell me that’s a boring story – some of the characters involved are pretty colorful. Those are the potential switches that are right there before our eyes. The Clinton-Biden switch isn’t even on the table yet, and may never be.

But these days there is no substitute, on cable especially, for brands and big personalities – it's why Christine O’Donnell has become, in less than a month, one of the best-known people in politics. The Biden-Clinton story is easy to cover, allows for endless speculation, doesn’t involve much exploration of complicated policy issues -- and it doesn't require anyone to leave a studio set and actually visit with voters or politicians around the country. And for all I know, it get ratings.

My hunch, by the way, is that this story was floated (or refloated) by Hillary Clinton staff folks, probably operatives from her 2008 campaign, as a way of generating talk about her political strengths and to keep her on the radar as a politician with a future. I wouldn’t blame them any more than I blame Woodward for this little episode. I'd just like channels that purport to cover political news to cover some actual political news, especially since there is now so little time to Election Day. In the meantime, I hope Bob sold a few books.

By E.J. Dionne  | October 7, 2010; 9:44 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Clinton for president speculation: stop the madness

Comments

You have to love people who say that Clinton who couldn't even energize her own campaign and who is one of the least charismatic figures in politics would energize the ticket. It is one of the puzzling factors of late twentieth century politics that a woman who did nothing since graduating law school but be "the wife of" ever got this far.

Posted by: 54465446 | October 7, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The political hot-stove league blather is hard enough to take in the off-season, but in the middle of a very important election campaign, it is unforgivably stupid. Strictly for "pundits" too lazy and shallow to actually pay attention to real issues -- Chris Matthews and his loud-mouthed ilk.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | October 7, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

If it weren't for this kind of sillyness there would be no WaPo.

Posted by: jdonner2 | October 7, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Woodward is doing what he does best: writing fiction. Hillary Clinton has not distinguished herself in her new role as Secretary of State. About the only effective performance she has given was the "re-start" button handed to Russia. Her snuggling up to Netanyahu and Liebermann has been particularly sickening.

Many women would make good presidents of the US. She is not one of them. I won't even get into a discussion of ex-governors of iecbergs.

CB in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | October 7, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it. "NEWS" isn't news any more. It's about selling books, papers, advertisements, or whatever else. Clinton-Biden is no more newsworthy than the Koran burner in Florida (with a following of 30), or the Islamic Center in New York. These have been "generated" events to make a dollar. TV news started as a public service commitment to the FCC for using the airwaves...it has since degenerated to entertainment. Papers and magazines have had to follow suit in order to stay alive. There are no public service standards anymore...just make a buck.

Posted by: rhino2 | October 7, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

We should have had HRC in the first place. The theft of our Florida primary vote resoundingly for her was a step in the knee-capping that robbed her. (see David Plouffe's admission of his role in this in Game Plan.)
Biden got the nod from Obummer capo Caroline K., who was herself booed off the stage and stuck the shiv in deep where HRC was concerned. A jealous mean girl at work.
Thanks but no thanks. We want Hillary, and at the top of the ticket!

Posted by: FloridaChick | October 7, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Floridachick wrote:

"Thanks but no thanks. We want Hillary, and at the top of the ticket!"

But WHY do you want her at the top, other than her last name is Clinton. That's what I can never get from any of her supporters. What are her accomplishments in life other than marrying Bill Clinton and riding his coattails.

Posted by: 54465446 | October 7, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

to all,

it makes ZERO difference who is at the top/bottom of the DIMocRATS Party ticket in 2012, as they will LOSE in the biggest landslide in American history. = FACT!

BHO & anyone else from the donkey party won't win dogcatcher ever again because NO DIMocRAT is trusted by the voters. NONE!

so save your time & money& sit quietly at home considering WHY the formerly powerful Democrat Party coalition is TOAST forever.

note: when formerly "union families" (like mine) DESERT the DIMs to be active TEA PARTY activists, you are DONE, FINISHED, KAPUT & likely forever.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | October 7, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Dionne bemoans the fact that the media is shallow, lazy, and stupid - DUH!

Media credibility has been an oxymoron for a long time and the one-note Dionne has been a willing participant in the destruction of trust in the media.

Posted by: pilsener | October 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Dionne bemoans the fact that the media is shallow, lazy, and stupid - DUH!

Media credibility has been an oxymoron for a long time and the one-note Dionne has been a willing participant in the destruction of trust in the media.

Posted by: pilsener | October 7, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yes indeed Hillary should be at the top of the ticket. She is smarter on Monday than Obama is all week and has more practical experience and charisma.

Posted by: mikes9 | October 7, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

REAL NEWS:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 10.1% in September -- up sharply from 9.3% in August and 8.9% in July. Much of this increase came during the second half of the month -- the unemployment rate was 9.4% in mid-September -- and therefore is unlikely to be picked up in the government's unemployment report on Friday.

The government's final unemployment report before the midterm elections is based on job market conditions around mid-September. Gallup's modeling of the unemployment rate is consistent with Tuesday's ADP report of a decline of 39,000 private-sector jobs, and indicates that the government's national unemployment rate in September will be in the 9.6% to 9.8% range. This is based on Gallup's mid-September measurements and the continuing decline Gallup is seeing in the U.S. workforce during 2010.

Regardless, the sharp increase in the unemployment rate during late September does not bode well for the economy during the fourth quarter, or for holiday sales. In this regard, it is essential that the Federal Reserve and other policymakers not be misled by Friday's jobs numbers. The jobs picture could be deteriorating more rapidly than the government's job release suggests.

Posted by: illogicbuster | October 7, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes indeed Hillary should be at the top of the ticket. She is smarter on Monday than Obama is all week and has more practical experience and charisma.

Posted by: mikes9 | October 7, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The Destruction of Democracy and Freedom in the USA:

A Dumb,ignorant self-centered President who is, nevertheless, strong enough to be "The Decider", and dream up disastrous wars and appoint crooks like Gonzales.

or

A Charismatic orator who parades and travels a lot but incapable of Firm action for the masses who elected him.

Posted by: lufrank1 | October 7, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

mikes9 wrote:

"Yes indeed Hillary should be at the top of the ticket. She is smarter on Monday than Obama is all week and has more practical experience and charisma."

Charisma? Hillary? Wow, that's a first.

Exactly what does she have more experience at than the President? They were both Senators who had no impact, during their time in that body. Hillary had never run anything before 2009 and neither had the President. Call it a push.

Posted by: 54465446 | October 7, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. Dionne spends most of his piece lamenting that this isn't news, maybe isn't even true, and is being discussed to the exclusion of stories of actual importance. But he then has to get in his cheap shot speculation that HRC's camp "leaked" this story (didn't he initially say that it came from Woodward)? He's got no evidence for this of course, but it's just the latest example of the kind of HRC bashing he was all too keen on during the primary. Get over it, Dionne. Sorry that your chosen one hasn't worked out as you'd hoped. As for whether HRC has distinguished herself, I think she is fairly universally regarded as one of the administration's few bright spots, as opposed to our veep, who has earned himself the right to be shunted off to the side due to his unfortunate habit of sticking his foot in his mouth. So, although there's no evidence that it's true, and there's no reason to talk about it, many of us certainly would welcome such a development.

Posted by: jl1019 | October 7, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Dionne,

When you suggest that Clinton political operatives might be responsible for planting this story, you are doing pretty much the same thing you are criticizing. Wille Brown has been making this suggestion for about two years now in his column.

Posted by: Fred1948 | October 7, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't believe how this "story" appeared on every cable show without anyone citing any credible source for its except Bob Woodward comment. Now is this suppose to be news or speculation for some one wanting attention?
Cable is the biggest joke going on.

Posted by: hairman | October 7, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Stop the coup! This is the alternative-lifestyle faction's revenge for its favorite not being selected in 08 or even put on the ticket as VP. We should be grateful to Pres. Obama for fending off what Ms. Inevitable and Mr. Stain thought would be their triumphant restoration. Let's keep it that way, you!

Posted by: phvr38 | October 7, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

You know what we have here is a government takeover of the peoples lives. They are using the old control system called "LOCUS OF CONTROL" WHICH IS WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING THAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO DO, THEY REWARD YOU WITH GIFTS, BE IT MONEY OR TAX BREAKS OR INSURANCE BREAKS. On the other hand if you do something they don't want you to do they punish you and make your life hell. So they eventually gather control over time of your mind and submission to them. Kind of like Hitler only worse.

Posted by: annieandpauldonovan | October 7, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

um 54465446,

which dem are you talking about- having done nothing since law school? I know of a Dem who did little as a community organizer, less as a state senator, even less in a quick 2 years as a US senator than ran for president- much less history or legislation than she has- what was that dude's name again?

Posted by: NYClefty | October 7, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh, but I must ask, when is Hillary going to pay the huge debt she accumulated during her failed run for the Democratic nomination for POTUS. Now, little know to
most, Bill invites people to have lunch with him if they pay down some of her debt.
OK, guess in some way we are funding that as well. So, in terms of ehical behavior, Hillary really makes Obama look good. Biden still trying to reinvent himself and Bill is squeezing people to pay down Hillary's debt. The whole bunch of them disgrace the country I fought to defend.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | October 7, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

EJ Dionne said: "My hunch, by the way, is that this story was floated (or refloated) by Hillary Clinton staff folks, probably operatives from her 2008 campaign, [...]."


The first two times this idea of Clinton as VP was mentioned, it was -- according to your own editorial! -- by Sally Quinn and Chris Matthews. How can this story be considered re-floated then, when the initial purveyors of this idea -- Sally Quinn and Chris Matthews -- are hardly what I'd call Hillary Clinton staff operatives.

In the future, try and make your snark at least somewhat believable, EJ Dionne.

Posted by: JustTheFactsPlease1 | October 9, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

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