Now that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have sewn up their nominations and darned their convention platforms, intrigue now turns to whom they will select to be their successor once they are impeached and thrown into jail (Trump for fraud, malfeasance, perjury, and war crimes; Clinton for emailing). This is a major decision that not only determines who is a heartbeat (actually, a lack of a heatbeat) from the Presidency, but has long-term ramifications for the future of each candidate’s party and the ideological direction of our country. (Or not, if they pick some oldsters.)
Perceptive political analysts are fond of saying that the selection of a Vice-President usually does not matter—voters base their decisions on who is at the head of the ticket, not the buttocks. But the office of Vice-President has assumed a major role in recent Presidential administrations, beginning with Al Gore, who became a legitimate junior partner to Bill Clinton and led some important administration initiatives. For example, if it weren’t for Gore, government would not, today, be reinvented. Imagine! The larger responsibilities of the Vice-President metastasized with the undisclosed term of Dick Cheney, who for years played a pivotal role in successfully and totally ruining the county, probably forever. Most recently, of course, Joe Biden has been an excellent second fiddle to Obama’s masterful alpenhorn. The best part about Biden’s performance is that he takes all the heat off Obama for creepy shoulder-rubs. Bush could have really used someone like that.
What’s more, the Vice-Presidential selection is one of the decisive factors shaping voters’ perceptions of the Presidential wannabe. With the right pick, Trump can transform his candidacy from an ill-fated, bigoted, misogynistic experiment in social media outrage to a sadly misguided, xenophobic, know-nothing demonstration of electoral catastrophe. Instead of losing the election by 8 or 9 points, he might win it by negative 5 or 6 points, thereby also losing. Similarly, Clinton can help dissolve lingering distrust from Sanders supporters, and gain the backing of independent voters, via a carefully calculated selection of two people, one of which is Sanders and the other of which is the real choice.*
Thus the political class’s obsessive nattering about nabobs who might be chosen as Vice-President is not a waste of time; it’s a waste of resources, too.
This year, there many highly-qualified candidates for Clinton and Trump to select from. Unfortunately, they all live in Finland, which is a very well-run, depressing place.
For Clinton, her choice comes down to five American options: Sherrod Brown, a nice car salesman from Ohio; Tim Kaine, a Methodist church piano-player from Virginia or maybe West Virginia (?); Julian Castro, former mayor of Mexico City (??) and current Administrative Assistant of the Department of Housing and Urban Development plus Suburban Beautification; Tom Perez, U.S. Secretary of Laboring; and Elizabeth “Goofy Pocohantas” Warren, U.S. Senator from Angry Harvard. Most insiders suspect that Tim Kaine best matches Clinton’s needs, which include appealing to centrists, maintaining Democratic Senate seats (both Brown and Warren would have a Republican governor select their replacements), and, most importantly, humming “Finlandia” ironically whenever Sanders comes near. However, the obvious choice for Clinton is not Kaine, but Xavier Becerra, a Congressman from Congress. Becerra is the highest-ranking Latino in the Military Order of Congressional Latinos, and you pronounce the “X” like an “H.” It’s the obvious choice for political hipsters to predict.
Trump has fewer options, if simply because no one likes him nor the slicked-back hair of his creepy, entitled sons. However, if Trump wished to double-down and then triple-down and then multiply his outsider appeal by, say, 7, his premier option would be Newt Gingrich, who, like Trump, cheated on and then divorced some of his spouses. Other options in that same vein include irritable Chris Christie, former possessor of self-respect, and irritant Jeff Sessions, current U.S. Senator from Alabama. But if Trump determines that he needs to soften his appeal to neo-Nazis and compete for the female vote, then the obvious choice for him is Joni Ernst, U.S. Senator from Iowa and a military veteran and a popular character from an ’80s cartoon (“Joni and the Corncobs”). According to my sources, she does not have “blood coming out of her wherever,” which is exactly the kind of non-menstruating woman Trump can work with.
Of course, all of this is pure speculation informed by a superior sense of my own intelligence. We’ll soon know who the actual picks are, and, with any luck, I’ll be right. But I want American to win, too. After all, we’re in this thing together, except for the two people who want to run this place. They’re in it for themselves.
*Trust me. With the right targeted advertising, it can work.