Obama Took Hillary As VP "Very Seriously"

I like to keep it pretty apolitical here at The Consumerist, but when Obama uttered the very same PR-double-speak phrase, “taking it seriously,” that we’ve been skewering for eight months, I had to post it.

WHO: Barack Obama
WHAT: Shortly before the opening of the Democratic National Convention, Obama assured America that Hillary was always a viable candidate in his VP search.
WHERE: Obama Dismisses Worries About Clinton Fallout [New York Times]
THE QUOTE: “‘I’ve tried not to have long discussions about short lists, long lists…But I’ve said publicly before and I will repeat again that Senator Clinton would be on anybody’s short list, so I took her very seriously.”

“Taking it seriously” is a phrase companies (and now, presidential candidates) use over and over again to appear contrite or thoughtful without actually saying or doing anything. Our series of posts documenting the phrase’s attempts recurrences are our attempt to question how much seriousness-taking is actually going on.

(Thanks to Michael Belisle!)

(Photo: BohPhoto)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ctaylor says:

    I dislike both major candidates, but I suppose I will have to take Obama very seriously now.

  2. scoobydoo says:

    I’m sure he also “looked into it”, and would “have someone get back to her” as soon as possible.

  3. umbriago says:

    I saw McCain on CSPAN today and it didn’t look good at all….

    Man: Senator McCain, with all your wealth, how can you possibly understand what average Americans are going through here in Palookaville?
    McCain: I think I have a house in Palookaville…
    Man: People are struggling! We’re living in distress!
    McCain: I may have a house there, too…
    Man: We don’t need a president who’s been locked away on Easy Street!
    McCain: That one’s more like a condominium than a house…
    Man: I give up. I need a beer.
    McCain: Cha-ching! More houses!

  4. iCanhasLs2plz says:


  5. Mfalconieri says:

    @umbriago: Nice. Not a McCain fan. One the bus was named “Straight Talk Express” I knew he sucked. It’s like when a lawyer told me ” I am not going to screw you”, he didn’t screw me but he sure as hell tried.

  6. kyle4 says:

    Breaking the politics taboo are we? Bring on the debate then I guess.

    Bill Clinton said he was taking “Monica Lewinsky” very seriously and we all know how that turned out.

  7. unpolloloco says:

    Seriously, “taking it seriously” is getting old

  8. AngelofMotrin says:


    Gizmodo sums it up best when talking about Joe Biden

    “VP Candidate Biden Is No Friend to File Sharing, Net Neutrality Protection or Online Privacy”

    I think this just secures my vote for Bob Barr.

    wishes Ron Paul was still running…..

  9. dwarf74 says:

    For a moment I thought I got my Yelp and Consumerist RSS feeds backwards!

  10. Dyscord says:

    Wow. I totally didn’t expect to see this here.

    It is amusing, but while “Taking it seriously” is something that’s ingrained into the brains of CEOs and spokespeople of big companies, I think in this case, Obama actually meant what he said.

    Just a poor choice of words.

  11. balthisar says:

    @Dyscord: Why would he mean what he said in this case when he doesn’t in other cases? (I can say the same about McCain, too.)

  12. bravo369 says:

    thank god he didn’t select her. for me, the last few elections have really been about who i dislike less but this year, i’m finally completely FOR someone. That would have been completely erased if Hillary was his running mate.

  13. Can we get off the “taken seriously” bandwagon.

    Sometimes “taken seriously” is an actual valid term.

    I am sure BO strongly considered the consequences of taking HRC…. and her Bill Baggage.

    Time for a clean start.

  14. biggyfred says:

    You got your Wonkette in my Consumerist.


  15. @farker:

    Because it was “taken seriously”.

  16. @biggyfred: COTD!

  17. Hawk07 says:


    Too bad they didn’t ask John Kerry the same question when he was running. Both are married to very wealthy women that have more homes and estates than all of us put together.

  18. cmdrsass says:

    @reeg2: It’s just an excuse to talk about Obama because he’s so dreamy. *bats eyelashes*. I’m guessing Roz will be busy with this one

  19. MyPetFly says:

    I have to post this SOMEWHERE…

    Why wasn’t anyone waving “Chappaquiddick” signs when good old Teddy was speaking at the convention? He’s a louse.

  20. Expanding Buttocks says:

    I’m sure he’ll take this seriously… google “Obama federally sued as ineligible to run for presidency.”

  21. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @farker: Folks, a reminder. If you’re posting just to bitch, you’re going to lose your posting privileges. Quit whining and post something substantive to discuss.

  22. Bladefist says:

    @umbriago: I laughed at that. Nice. But seriously, his wife into private businesses, and renting out houses. He is a senator.

    There are a ton of reasons not to like McCain, but, here in America, we don’t vote for the poorer candidate. If you’re class envious, just remember Obama is rich too. They’re all rich.

    Back on topic- I love that he picked Biden. It’s status quo. 35 years in the senate. I’m republican, mmmmm I love me some status quo.

    But seriously, Clinton said way too many attacks in the primaries against him, how could he pick her? Actually Biden did too, but not near as many/as bad. He also needed to pick up some white male votes, and pick up a red state. It’s all political guys. Nothin is changin

  23. redwall_hp says:

    Hey Consumerist, as a blogger I keep political stuff out of my websites. I consider it very unprofessional for politics to enter a non-political blog, especially in a slanted manner such as this appears to be.

    Please do not let this happen again.

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    @MyPetFly: Chappaquiddick? Chappaquiddick?!?!??! Won’t someone please think of the Crystal Pepsi??!?!?


  25. @MercuryPDX: I too am much more concerned about issues important to my generation, like Crystal Pepsi. And “Crystal Clear Amoco Ultimate”. I miss optically clear gas the most of all. (“But it was just regular high test!” you say? Bah. Does it say “Clear” at the pump today? That’s what I thought.)

    @Bladefist: I’m looking forward to Biden gaffe-watch. It should be entertaining, even though perhaps nobody can live up to W.’s legacy in that arena.

    But who knows? Biden is a man that launched his ill-fated presidential campaign by calling Obama “clean” and “articulate”. And yet, somehow, here we are today.

  26. gatewaytoheaven says:

    I wonder if Hillary takes Obama “very seriously.”

  27. nforcer says:

    I really don’t think this instance of the phrase “taking it seriously” is much like the other ones. Nothing bad or reputation-damaging happened, and nobody has anything to apologize for or try to rectify. I’m pretty sure Obama meant that he heavily considered choosing Hillary Clinton as a running mate. Not trying to be cynical, but I think that taking this string of words “seriously” in this case is a bit of a stretch.

  28. mooksas says:

    @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: You guys first!

    @Hawk07: Um, where ya been? They went after Kerry’s wife and her money with everything they had; they’re just sorry now because the shoe is on the other foot.

    This is such a fallacious argument. It’s like saying when anyone says “Have a nice day!” that what they always really mean is “Screw you!” just because some people have used the phrase that way in the past. I mean, what else are you supposed to say when you are truly taking something seriously? This line of reactionary, dog whistle thinking only produces knee jerk reactions that cuts off critical thinking before it ever begins.

    And to think that a campaign that has been as competent as Barack’s has been, wouldn’t seriously consider Hilary as a running mate is political naivete embodied. He hasn’t gotten this far by running with blinders on.

    Hilary’s super low ratings with independents (especially when compared to Biden’s relatively high ratings) no doubt played a major factor in dooming her chance for a spot on the ticket.

    But Ben, you say that this post is part of your “attempt to question how much seriousness-taking is actually going on”. But I see no attempt, only naive innuendo.

  29. kyle4 says:

    @redwall_hp: If you’re interested, you could send your comment to the Editors of the site, the email links are to the left there.

    While I don’t mind political discussion (I do welcome it, depending on who the person is) I was caught off guard by Consumerist alluding to it, considering how much heated debate and insults can stem from it.

  30. What I think is a good discussion is the analogy between when businesses screw you over they say…….

    …”yes, we’re taking this very seriously..”

    that this happens to sound like when Obama said “yes, we took her very seriously.”, as in not really at all.

    I’m not thrilled with the maverick, but Obama/Biden?


    Joe “Worst Bankruptcy Law in History” Biden?


  31. TechnoDestructo says:

    @bravo369: I was kind of hoping he did pick her, just so my decision as to whom I should vote against would be easy. McCain could still pick Lieberman, though…that would be just as easy, since he was on the anti-violent-videogame bandwagon WITH Hillary Clinton back…oh was it the late 90s?

  32. magic8ball says:

    @MyPetFly: Because he already took it seriously?

  33. tc4b says:

    The politicians affiliated with my chosen party are vastly superior to those in yours! For some reason!

  34. eliot99 says:

    It’s very unfortunate that this has appeared here. Unsubscribe.

  35. mac-phisto says:

    @AngelofMotrin, IamNotToddDavis: remember that the VP position is little more than ceremonial – nobody really wants the position & it is often career-ending for most politicians. personally, i think this is the DNC putting biden out to pasture – they weren’t ready to do that to clinton yet.

    so really, if you’re not a biden fan, that’s another reason to vote for the ticket – it keeps him out of important senate subcommittees.

  36. majortom1029 says:

    Clinton can do more good still in the senate. You need somebody in the senate to get bills from the president to pass.

  37. ViperBorg says:

    I take both candidates “very seriously”.

  38. stinerman says:


    They’re all rich.

    There’s your problem.

  39. TouchMyMonkey says:

    Well, as far as I’m concerned, it was the appropriate response. Would I put a divisive figure like Hillary Clinton on my ticket? Hell no. As for those 18,000,000 shards from the glass ceiling raining down to shred our dreams (thanks, Mr. Trudeau), I don’t believe for a minute that even 80% of them actually supported Sen. Clinton or intended to vote for ANY Democrat in November.

    When you can switch parties a month before the primary and switch right back again afterward, a primary isn’t really closed, is it? How many states let people do that?

    Tell y’all what; the next contest should be a national primary run by the national party (because the state parties did such a bang-up job of running it themselves), and only allow people who have been registered party members for ONE YEAR to participate. See who comes out on top then. I bet the Democratic Party ends up with a much better candidate than it would letting Iowa and New Hampshire pick him/her for us.

    Process, people. Process.

  40. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @redwall_hp: OMG LOLLERSKATES!

    The only thing funnier than a politician using the “taking it seriously” phrase is that comment right there.

    I would be very surprised if he really considered her for VP. Would she even want to be VP?

  41. I’m sympathetic, really, with your frustration and always up for a political discussion. I don’t think it belongs on this blog, though.

    By all means, be angry as Hell. But work hard for Obama and hold his feet to the fire after he’s elected. Not because it’s what Hillary is asking you to do. But because, if the next two Supreme court justices are Scalia clones, I hope your anger will have been worth it.

  42. Bladefist says:

    Consumerist: I disagree with some of the commenters above. I think politics and consumerism have a close relationship. If you look at the big news on digg, you see people are upset with Biden, and his views on net neutrality and the like. If politics doesn’t affect consumers, then I don’t know what does. They make all the regulations, control taxing, etc etc.

    Also, I commend this post for being critical of Obama. I know that most of your readers are pro-Obama. You stuck your neck out there for a story.

    @stinerman: That’ll never change. It costs over 30k to even run as a republican. But I’m not sure thats a bad thing. A lot of people are rich because they are successful, smart, ambious people. (sure some are rich from corruption, or inheriting Dads company). But if a person couldn’t make it big in the private sector, I’m not sure running a country is up their ally. Turn your focus to McCain and Obama. Are either of them really ready?

    @Michael Belisle: I don’t expect as many gaffes out of him as Obama.

  43. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @Bladefist: You gauge the public’s sentiments on people based on the quantity of spam on digg? Come on, now; you know better than that. If I came on here saying John McCain was an alien from Alpha Centauri, and that it must be true based on digg traffic, you’d be calling bullshit. Admit it.

  44. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Consumerist: I disagree with some of the commenters above. I think politics and consumerism have a close relationship.

    @Bladefist: Exactly. There’s a reason Consumerist has a government tag. Posts about the FDIC, USPS, CSPC, FDA, airline passengers bill of rights, regulating pay day loan centers, ect. and nobody complains. Consumerist points out that a politician said they were taking something seriously (which is funnier than it is critical anyway) and suddenly politics are inappropriate for this blog.

  45. dragonvpm says:

    @Bladefist: I agree with the general premise that consumerism and politics are connected and that politics does have a place on the Consumerist, but I think this particular post completely misses the point of the “we take it seriously” meme.

    The words in and of themselves don’t matter, the problem is that invariably the person saying them is so far down the ladder, that neither we, nor the company in question could care less what they take seriously or not. It’s a scripted platitude that has next to no meaning when it comes from a random CSR.

    However, take it out of that context and if someone is using it to explain or discuss something they personally did or were involved in then the article comes off as Beavis and Buttheady (“huh-huh-huh, he said seriously”). It’s taking some words and forcing them into this particular meme and it does a pretty sad job of it. I don’t have a problem with the Consumerist discussing actual policy positions, or even personal characteristics/history that might inform my decision in the election, but this particular article totally misses the point that “take it seriously” really goes to (and what makes it funny when we hear a CSR say it).

  46. Bladefist says:

    @HurtsSoGood: Oh I don’t gauge digg on anything bigger then digg. I just find it a good place to find out what the extreme left is thinking. Obama has a huge base there, and when they start being anti-Obama, I know he is in trouble.

    @dragonvpm: You over complicate the series of articles under ‘taking it seriously’ It’s just a collection of people saying that exact phrase, who are in reality, not.

  47. dragonvpm says:

    @Bladefist: I disagree, if you look at ALL the previous posts, they come from companies and it looked like most of them came from random people at those companies in the form of either a fairly anonymous letter or a statement from a fairly interchangeable spokesperson or CSR agent.

    My point is that it seems unfair to categorize one particular person’s statement that HE takes something seriously in the same category as the rest of the articles. McDonald’s can’t take something seriously because it’s not a person so when that phrase is used it’s clearly BS, an actual person OTOH, can actually mean that they took something seriously.

    If you really don’t see the distinction then I don’t know what else to tell you.

  48. Erwos says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    “Consumerist points out that BARACK OBAMA said they were taking something seriously”

    Fixed that for you. If this was McCain, there’d be no outrage.

  49. Kos says:

    There was no way Bill was going to give access to his Clinton Library donor list so there was no way Hillary could get a serious vetting. End of story. Get over it.

  50. @mac-phisto: This comforts me little to none at all.

  51. Trai_Dep says:

    One guy, a minority immigrant, arrives with nothing, earns his money and finds himself at the end of the day doing well through the fruits of his hard work and smarts. Isn’t that the American Dream?
    The other guy divorces the wife who patiently waited years for him to be freed from prison because – well – accident victims aren’t as pretty as booze distributor heiresses half your age. Marries for money then quickly becomes an arriviste who thinks that those that earn $5m/yr aren’t rich while being unable to count the number of homes he owns. He shrugs it off, blaming the Viet Cong for his many gaffes, as is his habit. Fine, this is America.
    It’s when the second guy calls the first guy out for being a latté-sipping, out-of-touch elitist where I call shenanigans. The hypocrisy is what amazes, not the net worth.
    But since Conservatives have trouble with that word – well, untrue: they take to hypocrisy like pigs do mud – they don’t see the difference between the two men’s history.
    It’s the hypocrisy that we should take very seriously.

    Who’d trade a Senate seat for that of the Veep? Does anyone seriously think Hills would accept the slot if Obama offered it?
    Although, I think Obama needs to frequent Consumerist more often – then he’d know taking it very seriously has jumped the shark.

  52. ivanthemute says:

    @Dyscord: I think in this case, Obama actually meant what he said.

    Not so. Aparently, Obama’s staff didn’t even attempt to have Clinton vetted.

  53. OnceWasCool says:

    Bill is the problem with Hillary being VP, but Biden was a very bad choice. Biden, who for years has received money from credit card companies is just politics gone wrong. It’s Biden’s corruption that makes this a consumer issue since he is not for us.

    I know how biased it is here and I might get bashed, but I think the McCain will be the best for our country.

  54. Shenanigans Was Taken says:

    @Trai_Dep: You called? I didn’t get a VM…

  55. Bladefist says:

    @IamNotToddDavis: It’s funny. Before the VP slot was filled, it was hugely important. Now that Obama picked, and most people don’t like the guy, it’s no longer an important position.

    If the position has no real power, why does everyone hate Cheney? Cuz of his smile?

  56. Trai_Dep says:

    @Bladefist: Usually, the guy that sits in the Captain’s chair in the WH wants to – or rather, has the capacity to – run the place. Not so much in this case.
    I agree with what (I think) you’re saying: traditionally, the Veep slot is something the Beltway insiders blather on and on about to fill airtime, but in the end, it doesn’t impact much. I’d humbly suggest Quayle vs Benson as Exhibit A for this view…

  57. Orv says:

    @OnceWasCool: I think Biden is a good choice. He fills Obama’s foreign policy gap. He also raises the bar for McCain’s veep choice.

    @Bladefist: Nah, Obama’s not rich. McCain says you need $5 million before you can be considered rich, and Obama only has $4 million. ;)

  58. Bladefist says:

    @Orv: Technically speaking, McCain isn’t rich either.


    His wife is rich, and gives him money for his campaigns. But their money is totally separate. His comment about needing 5 million to be considered rich is pretty lame. But if Cindy was to ever leave him, Obama would be considerably richer then McCain

  59. Counterpoint says:

    I think this article is incredibly apt, because if people have been following the VP situation then they’d know that Obama had zero interest in Hillary. In fact, this statement was made just to placate her supporters, when in fact they didn’t even vet her for the position.

    It is amusing to see some of the reactions here. Politics blind some people so much that they get so defensive about the simplest of things. This post illustrated Obama using the same phrase, in much the same way that many companies do and get skewered here. It’s not saying Obama shouldn’t be President, vote McCain, or anything near that, yet some people are acting like Ben posted a link to donate to McCain’s campaign.

  60. Orv says:

    @Bladefist: If you marry someone rich, and they give you money on request, that still counts as your money in my book. I understand it may be something different in the world of creative tax accounting.

  61. Tiber says:

    I never got why people are mad whenever the consumerist posts something that’s not about how some company has been kicking puppies and stealing candy from babies. I see this article as being fairly lighthearted. As for politics, even if the consumerist tries to avoid politics in posts, half of them end up as partisan battles anyway. The title even mentioned Obama’s name; don’t pretend you had no idea it was going to get political. You could just not read the article if it doesn’t interest you.

    As to the topic at hand, the “dream ticket” was lip service right from the moment Hillary dreamed it up as a way to get the votes of indecisive stupid people. Hillary’s bid for the ’08 presidency died a long time ago, and any attempts to reanimate it as VP would result in either failure or a hideous zombie.

    As to his current selection, my reaction would be “who the h*** is Joe Biden?”, except I realized that I didn’t care. The fact that he may or may not be a corporate shill is a bit of a worry, but unless Obama kicks the bucket, it’s not like it’s going to matter. His pick was solely for the political points, and I expect the same from McCain (though voters may pay more attention to his pick on account of his age).

  62. Trai_Dep says:

    I agree. I like occasional topics that don’t fit the strict definition of Consumerist’s charter for the variety and they’re often fun.
    I’m also of the mind that if people aren’t interested – or at least understand – politics, they’re being myopic. Laws define the commercial landscape of our lives and if you don’t track the people making the laws, you’re missing 3/4 of why what’s happening to you is.
    Welcome back, Ben!

  63. Dyscord says:

    When I said that he “Meant what he said”, I meant that he probably did take it seriously and thought it over or something. Which is the opposite of when the big companies say it because they just want people to get off their back.

  64. Trai_Dep says:

    @Counterpoint: Between Whitewater and her stints in the AK governor’s mansion (twice), the White House (twice), running and winning a Senate seat and running one of the longest primary campaigns to be the Dem nominee we’ve had in recent history, I think Hills has been vetted ‘aplenty.
    Nothing Obama’s vetting people could do could match what she’s already been through, so wouldn’t a campaign vetting her seem, well, stupid?

    It’s wonderful – awesome really – that McCain is brimming over with so much care and concern for Hillary’s feelings. Her feelings!
    Aww… It almost makes up for McCain calling his own wife a c*nt and trollop!

  65. Let’s hope you don’t have to run any stories about executive carpet bombing any time soon.

  66. BillsBurg says:

    @stinerman: OK, this was posted earlier today so that means it’s about waaaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the curve, but, if you’re running for President, your rich, end of statement.

  67. redkamel says:

    wait Obama took her very seriously? I would be PISSED if somone took my very seriously. I hope he gives it back.

    PS theres a differnece between being rich and being so rich you dont know how rich you are. which is what “I dont know how many houses I have” sounds like. I am not bagging on McCain specifically since I guess his wife does a lot of real estate so the numbers probably always changing.

  68. farker says:

    Why s ths n th Cnsmrst?

  69. reeg2 says:

    wk pst. jz.