As I read that Hillary Clinton responded with a “wow” when a Iowan asked if she’d consider Barack Obama for the Supreme Court, I couldn’t help thinking back to the opening of an “exclusive” interview Mr. Obama gave POLITICO. Glenn Thrush began
Barack Obama, that prematurely gray elder statesman, is laboring mightily to remain neutral during Hillary Clinton’s battle with Bernie Sanders in Iowa, the state that cemented his political legend and secured his path to the presidency.
But in a candid 40-minute interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast as the first flakes of the blizzard fell outside the Oval Office, he couldn’t hide his obvious affection for Clinton or his implicit feeling that she, not Sanders, best understands the unpalatably pragmatic demands of a presidency.
Quid pro quo? The former Secretary of State is probably more or less sincere. Or, alternatively, having embraced the Obama legacy for her own in her campaign for President, it would look rather ungrateful if she didn’t gush at the chance to possibly reward Mr. Obama, should she become president.
Here’s what happened, according to Tony Leys of the Des Moines Register:
The Democratic presidential candidate was responding to a question from a voter, who noted that the next president probably will have several Supreme Court appointments to make. The man wondered aloud if Obama might be one of them if Clinton moves into the White House.
“Wow! What a great idea!” Clinton exclaimed as the crowd of 450 people roared approval and applauded.
“I’ll be sure to take that under advisement,” she said. “I mean, he’s brilliant. He can set forth an argument, and he was a law professor, so he’s got all the credentials. Now, we do have to get a Democratic Senate to get him confirmed.”
She laughingly added that she wasn’t sure if he would be interested. “He may have other things to do.”
Leys then refers to an interview Obama gave to Jeffrey Toobin that appeared in 2014 in theNew Yorker. Toobin asked Obama “if, like William Howard Taft, he entertained thoughts of serving as a judge later in his career.” [Mr. Taft, after serving as President, later became the tenth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.]
Leys observes “Obama didn’t rule it out, though he voiced doubts.” Toobin put it differently: Obama “sounded tempted by the idea.”