For those who are seeking signs and portents for the 2012 presidential matchup, may I suggest a trip to Delaware? Here’s what you won’t be seeing: Joe Biden’s name on the “Obama 2012” bumper stickers.
Yes, even though it’s only April 2011, the latest Obama bumper stickers have arrived, along with the heavy spring pollen count. But I thought it was curious that the campaign hadn’t done a special run, at least, of “Obama-Biden” stickers for the Blue Hen State.
In 2008, in addition to the usual “Obama-Biden” stickers, local Dems sported special “Delaware’s Joe Biden” stickers on their cars. This was funny considering how the campaign had remade Biden into the “scrappy kid from Scranton” to capture the Pennsylvania votes that Obama had lost to Hillary Clinton in the primary. (Never mind that Joe had spent over half a century living in Delaware, but I digress.)
Lest you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, remember that Bill Clinton’s White House constantly referred to the “Clinton-Gore administration” as a way to cement in people’s minds that Al Gore would carry on Clinton’s policies in the following decade. It essentially became a one-breath word: “ClintonGore.” Not so with the current administration.
There’s room for only one person on the stage in this administration, and it’s the president. For the other guy, being vice president seems to be a transition-to-retirement job.
What will the 2012 campaign bring? If Obama opts for Biden again or a Biden-like running mate, it means he is less concerned about establishing a legacy candidate for 2016, seeking instead to ensure he is the sole light in the presidential sky. Those new bumper stickers may be a hint that Obama is leaning toward the “sole light” approach.
Since this is a fluid situation, I promise to keep a keen eye on developments from the parking lot of my local Happy Harry’s drugstore!
Joanne Butler is a senior economics fellow at the Caesar Rodney Institute of Delaware. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.