It’s high summer – the Fourth of July is behind us, and the vacation season is ahead of us.
We should be reading novels on the beach, hiking verdant mountain trails, splashing in lakes . . . but instead we’re caught up in the suspense about who Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will choose as their running mates.
The qualifications for vice presidential candidates are complicated: They must be plausibly qualified to take the top spot if the president dies or becomes incapacitated; they must bring along a bloc of voters the candidate needs to win; they must be effective campaigners, but not so effective they outshine the presidential candidate; and they must pass a rigorous vetting process that checks every closet for skeletons.
In Trump’s case, the winning VP candidate must also make up for Trump’s lack of political and legislative experience. Trump’s leading candidates include New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich. Both fill the required qualification for political experience, but both make us wonder just how much hubris can fit on one ticket.
We also wonder whether Trump realizes that when he has a falling out with his vice president, he can’t just say “you’re fired.”
If he thought it would bring in more women’s votes, Trump might pick the ever-ebullient Sarah Palin, or, perhaps more likely, Mary Fallin, the conservative governor of Oklahoma, though neither would probably rate a “10” in Trump’s judgment. Or if he wants to shore up his credibility with social conservatives, he might pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana who has been reliably anti-choice and anti-LGBT rights – both issues on which Trump himself has been slippery over the years.
But really, is America ready for two men on the same ticket? We ask because a similarly ludicrous question has been posed about the possibility of Hillary Clinton picking Elizabeth Warren as her running mate.
That choice would be sort of redundantly historic for women, and it would certainly bring out all those disaffected Bernie Sanders voters. It would also mark a clean break between Clinton and Wall Street. It’s a long shot – only slightly more likely than a Clinton- Sanders ticket.
Julian Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or Thomas Perez, the Secretary of the Department of Labor, are also in the running. It would be historic to have a Latino in the White House (especially one named Castro!), but Trump has so alienated Latinos already that Clinton may feel a greater need to shore up support among white men.
Thus, she may go with a more buttoned-down choice such as Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. If she does that, she will have failed to learn a key lesson of this year’s race: if you want media coverage, you can’t just be normal; you have to compete with the Greatest Show on Earth, complete with elephants and clowns.
Whatever the choices, the suspense will be dispelled before July’s national conventions are over, happily leaving us the whole month of August to loll around on the beach.