MICHAEL GOODWIN: Hillary for Veep? Get Real!

A headline says it all: "Hillary for vice president movement gains traction." I have no doubt it's true, but I have a question: Why?

On one level, the answer is obvious -- politics. Without a boost of voters and enthusiasm, President Obama is looking like a one-termer. Hillary, to those who want her on the ticket, is the solution. They believe she could supply the troops to eke out a second Obama term in 2012 while securing heir-apparent status for 2016.

As for Joe Biden, if he isn't expendable, nobody is.

But there's another level on which to consider the movement, and it leads to me conclude the Hillary-as-veep scenario is half-baked and will never happen.

It starts with competence. Unless Obama starts to show he can govern, nobody, especially a member of his Cabinet, can help him survive the coming voter backlash.

He's had large Democratic majorities to back his Big Government, blank-check approach, yet the economy refuses to cooperate. The official unemployment rate of 9.5 percent undercounts millions of Americans working part-time or who have stopped looking for a job.

Meanwhile, the debt piles up -- 40 percent of this year's budget is borrowed -- and the tax and regulatory burdens he's planning or has already imposed are certain to retard growth.

Finally, the nation remains bitterly divided, with Obama overtly partisan despite promises to the contrary. He blames George W. Bush for something nearly every day.

Hillary would be no help with either problem. She is at least as polarizing as Obama is, and has no background on economic issues. She's never met a payroll, and lost the 2008 nomination after blowing through a $100 million war chest in one-third of the primaries.

As first lady and senator, she never met a tax hike or government program she didn't embrace, so has no credibility to negate Obama's big-spender rep.

But isn't she "a team player who has earned good marks" as secretary of state, as former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder wrote in urging Obama to make the switch?

Ah, no. Inadvertently, Wilder has put his finger on the ultimate reason why Clinton can't save Obama.

America's foreign policy is a mess, from the surge/withdraw incoherence in Afghanistan to the damaging snits with allies that have alarmed our friends without bringing a single adversary to our side.

On Iran, the United States wasted more than a year in fruitless "engagement" before getting Security Council support on sanctions. But even the White House doesn't believe the sanctions will stop the mullahs' nuke march, yet there remains doubt around the world about whether America is determined to stop Iran, or is ready to try containment after it has a bomb.

Clinton is identified with all those issues, not to mention the ineffective entreaties to get China and Russia to stop trading with Iran and North Korea. A good team player on an unpopular, losing team wouldn't be a virtue to most voters, especially independents. And she can't very well run with Obama if she decides to oppose him on major policies.

Add the negatives up and it's hard to see how she could be on the Obama ticket. While she and Bubba desperately want to restore the Clinton presidency, I suspect some of the growing 2012 chatter is a signal to her supporters not to give up.

But the calendar is her enemy. She won't run a primary against Obama in 2012 -- even if she beat him, she'd divide the party and lose the black vote in a general election. So she has to wait until 2016.

By then, she'll be 69. Certainly not too old, but that's a very long time to sustain a political base, either as a secretary of state or, more likely, as a private citizen.

Sure, anything can happen in politics. But another President Clinton looks like the longest of long shots.

Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.

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