My thesis is simple: If Obama wishes to be re-elected in 2012, he would hamstring himself if he did not hire Hillary as his running mate. Biden has served his purpose. He should be offered the vista of a dignified retirement and the prospect of a vice-presidential library in Scranton, Pennsylvania, that “absolute jerkwater of a town” where he was raised. (Would Obama dare to dangle Biden before the nation as a Supreme Court nominee? Don’t count it out. Remember Harriet Miers!) It is quite unlikely that Biden would agree to replace Hillary as secretary of State, as some have suggested.
Of course, if Obama is in as much trouble in two years as he is today, there’s little he can do to stave off defeat, with or without Biden. But the GOP being what it currently is—a sclerotic, brain-dead, knee-jerk outfit at sixes and sevens with the American people and bereft of ideas with which to counter the incumbents (most of the wounds on Obama have been inflicted by Tea Party insurgents)—the chances are that Obama in 2012 will be competitive in a cutthroat election.
But if the GOP gets its act together—if Chris Christie rises to supra-Jersey heights, for example—or Obama implodes, the Democrats will need a frame to hold the party together. Hillary Clinton would be that frame.