I am embarrassed to admit how much I’ve enjoyed the Donald Trump vice-presidential search. There’s nothing like a bunch of egomaniacs humiliating themselves in public to cheer up a dark day.
We got to sit through a series of very public tryouts – who can introduce Trump at a rally in the loudest, most craven manner possible? My blue ribbon went to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who hollered that Trump has “never forgotten or forsaken the people who work with their hands,” apparently skipping over all the construction workers he’s stiffed in his real estate business. Pence has also started twittering like a howling dog. (“We will not rest until we elect @realDonaldTrump as the next President of the United States of America!”)
On Wednesday, for mysterious reasons that may have been connected to trouble with the Trump plane, Indiana became the center of the veep universe. Pence was visited by a delegation that included Trump, Trump’s daughter, Trump’s sons, Trump’s son-in-law and, oh yeah, the campaign manager.
Then Newt Gingrich flew in for a sit-down with the kids, apparently followed by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. The only major vice-presidential prospect who wasn’t in Indiana was Chris Christie.
But Trump and Christie were famously close already, despite the fact that Christie once sent Ivanka Trump’s father-in-law to prison. Yes, indeed. When he was U.S. attorney, Christie prosecuted Charles Kushner, who wound up spending 14 months in the clink for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations. One of the case highlights involved a family business feud, during which Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law.
Kushner’s son Jared – Ivanka’s husband – is very influential in the Trump campaign and seems to have gotten over the send-Dad-to-the-clink issue completely. You can see why everyone has been comparing the vice-presidential search to a reality TV show. All we needed was an announcement that the final four would be competing in a challenge that involves eating raw groundhog livers.
For those of us who love obscure political factoids, it seemed appropriate that this was all going on in Indiana. The state has often been at the center of vice-presidential politics. (Dan Quayle!) Nearly a dozen Hoosiers have been nominated for the job since the Civil War. (Dan Quayle!) Several have won. (Dan Quayle!)
Former Indiana Gov. Thomas Hendricks’ pull in his home state got Grover Cleveland critical electoral votes he needed to become president after the 1884 election. It was one of the very few times that the vice-presidential selection made a big difference.
Hendricks had a long-running rivalry with another governor, Oliver Morton, which produced my favorite headline of all time, from The Chicago Times: “Hendricks a Man of the Purest Social Relations, but Morton a Foe to Society, a Seducer and a Libertine … The Former’s Name Untrammeled by Lust; the Latter’s Reeking With Filth and Slime. A Few of the Hellish Liaisons of, and Attempted Seductions by, Indiana’s Favorite Stud-Horse.”
So stop complaining about the terrible tone of the modern media.
OK, enough about Indiana. I just wanted to share. I’ve also been rooting for Sessions to show up in the vetting so I could point out that the only person ever elected to a national office from Alabama was William King, the only bachelor vice president, who was once a very close friend and sometimes roommate with James Buchanan, the only bachelor president.
See, how can you not like this stuff?
But about the Trump contenders. Each of them has a special something. Gingrich, like Trump, has been married three times. (Six-wife ticket!) Bringing Newt back would also allow the nation to revisit his interesting plan to replace unionized school janitors with poor children.
Christie has exhibited a marvelous ability to suck up abuse. Trump has made fun of him for everything from being AWOL from the governor’s office to eating Oreos. There are pictures of Trump holding a huge umbrella over his own famous head and letting Christie get wet. When you’ve currently got a 26 percent approval rating in your home state, I guess you take whatever they throw at you. However, Christie’s office denied reports that Trump once sent him out to get hamburgers.
I have a theory that women will never vote for a male presidential candidate who yells, because it reminds them of their worst boyfriends. A Trump-Christie ticket would be like the worst boyfriend sitting in the living room with his thuglike pal, watching football with their shoes off and demanding that you cook them pizza from scratch.
A Trump-Gingrich ticket would be a total of 143 years old.
None of the options are really all that terrific. But then you’ve got to be in a pretty bad place to begin with if you’re yearning for the spot beneath Trump. I just hope that if the decision came down to that liver-eating contest, somebody took pictures. It’d be a great feature for the Cleveland convention.