Let's use our imaginations. Imagine a powerful person with great influence with the Democratic party, but not belonging to it, visiting Senator Clinton. The meeting is confidential, and must be kept secret from both Senator Obama and Chairman Dean, for were the public to believe that either man had made this proposal, it would kill the campaign. The influential person gives Clinton due credit for her strong run for the nomination, and acknowledges that concessions must be made to her to assure that her supporters will support Obama in November. However, given the reality of Obama's lead and the disastrous consequences of appearing to deny him his due by chicanery, Clinton herself must make an important concession, beyond merely conceding Obama the top spot on the ticket, in return for which she will be guaranteed the second spot-- she must divorce her husband.
It's explained to her that Bill's hovering presence undermines the argument against Senator McCain as the third term of President Bush. Bill Clinton is such an overpowering personality that, even twice removed from power as the spouse of the vice president, he would shape an Obama regime into his own third term. Obama must not be perceived as the puppet of Bill Clinton -- and neither must Hillary Clinton. The only way she would be allowed on an Obama ticket or an Obama administration will be if she cuts ties to Bill. If she says yes, the pretext could be created easily enough; if it doesn't already exist it could be contrived with little trouble. There would be no more than the minimum appearance of political expediency involved. The person with influence will make it all happen, and all she'll have to do is respond correctly.
What would she do? Your answer is likely to tell us plenty about your own opinion of Senator Clinton. If she says yes, does that demonstrate a selfless willingness to make a nearly supreme sacrifice for her party (leaving out the party's worthiness of such a gesture for the moment), or is it the ultimate cynical calculation of self-interest? If she says no, does that prove finally that hers is a true love for Bill Clinton that transcends personal ambition, or would it convince you that she is, after all, no more than a tool of the former President, and incapable of standing on her own?
I exempt myself from answering the question, because I confess that simply asking it betrays my own position. Once Obama has the nomination secured, he must not allow the slightest appearance of becoming Bill Clinton's apprentice. He cannot hope to revive his campaign against the politics of the past while suspicion exists that Mr. Clinton will be lurking near the Oval Office in a manner unprecedented in American history. Leaving Mrs. Clinton's own merits or demerits out of it, the plain fact of her marriage to the former President disqualifies her from consideration as Obama's running mate if the goal is to make Obama look like a strong leader for a new era. If she demands the vice presidency as compensation for conceding defeat, she should be turned down. If that means she fights to the finish, or beyond the finish, so be it.
Don't mistake me for one of those people who are supposedly pressuring Clinton to quit. I would never tell someone to stop running before November, and I'm not a Democrat. But I must laugh when she or her friends complain that she's been enduring some unique form of intimidation. She's experiencing nothing now that any third-party candidate hasn't already -- some of them several times over. Maybe the experience will teach her something about the American Bipolarchy, and maybe her forlorn fight will teach others something as well.