The media's VP drama

June is young and the summer’s delirium-inducing heat is already frying Washington.  The blood-thirsting mosquitoes are in full peckish force around my humble rancher a dozen miles off the Potomac littoral, and while they aren’t carrying coronavirus or worse protozoans, they’re infecting Washingtonians with febrile wishcasting.

And, no, I’m not referring to the feral no-goodniks snatching luxury items from high-end boutiques in City Center.  I mean the punditocracy paid to hypothesize while gawping dumbly at the urban marauders turning the capital city into an incandescent katzenjammer.

The drama du jour: President Trump considering replacing Mike Pence in the VP slot.  While witnessing a deputy swap is the equivalent of a lepidopterologist finding a Karner blue in the wild, it doesn’t stop the speculation from becoming an octennial parlor game for politicos.

Eight years ago, cable-news roundtables tittered with speculation that then-president Obama was mulling the Clinton option: faking to Biden but handing the ball to Hillary.  Mark Halperin and John Hellerman later confirmed the idea was bandied about by Obama’s top-level staff.  Like most Washington gossip, it never came to be.  But, at some point, the Bidon-Clinton switcheroo was discussed.

Might the same be happening now?  Political tea-leaf reader Curt Mills thinks so.  He reports that Pence has two possible replacements under hushed meditation. Both are blatant token picks to broaden Trump’s appeal beyond the white working class: former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and former Germany ambassador and short-lived intelligence chief Richard Grenell.

Why Haley and Grenell?  Besides the absence of pushback, and perhaps ticker-tape welcoming, from the hawkish foreign-policy establishment, both check a minority box.  Grenell is the first open homosexual to hold a cabinet seat; Haley is of Sikh descent.  The addition of either doesn’t just bump the ticket up to historical status (the first gay vice-president! Swooooooon.), but severs the talking point that Republicans are only represented by straight white men. 

Or so the conventional thinking (read: Jared Kushner’s Fifth Avenue cast of mind) goes.

Joe Biden has promised to enlist a female as his second-order. Trump could match Biden tit-for-tat with his own muliebritical veep or circumvent identity-obsessed Democrats entirely with a gay man at his side.  Whichever choice would make great fodder for the “Morning Joe” confabulations that Trump despises but can’t keep his attention off of.

The Haley pick in particular isn’t new to the grapevine.  Whispers of her ascension have soughed through elite Washington quarters for months.  Meghan McCain predicted Haley’s lancing of Pence with her stiletto; as did Paul Begala of CNN.

The inherent drama of a vice-presidential interchange makes such a move a traditional Trumpian donnée.  Ever the showman, the President craves a plot twist to keep the spotlight from casting someone else’s shadow.  What would make bigger headlines than replacing the white-haired, impassive Pence with a media-friendly diplomat or a brawling bud of Dorothy? The hooky copy writes itself: “Trump to Pence: You’re Fired!”; “Trump Throws a Hail Haley”; “Trump’s Gay Gamble”.  Here’s a freebie for the New York Post: “Trump’s Bets Big on a New Taj “Mahal(ey)”.

There’s just one problem: Trump is sui generis within the GOP ranks.  No elected Republican buys the nationalist Trumpian precepts in full.  Mike Pence helped unite evangelicals behind the former tabloid fixture in 2016, but has since subsumed his entire career and voting record to his boss’s policy whims.

Ditching Pence after a tenure of unassailable loyalty for a woman or a gay man would be a too-too sop to diversity mongers.  It would mean nothing to the Republican base.  It would win approximately zero votes from Democrats uncomfortable with the Iraq War-voting, crime bill-backing, female tress-caressing Joe Biden.

As Tucker Carlson laid out in a blazing half-hour monologue, no Republican official could bring him or herself to fully condemn the rash of looting occurring in major American cities.  Any denunciation, whether by Pence or Haley or Marco Rubio or random blue-jacketed conservative talking head, was qualified with an equal denouncement of structural racism.  Trump made no such caveat in his Rose Garden address promising a forceful end to the mayhem.

The truth is, Trump could draft the only sitting Republican on the town council of Lincoln, Rhode Island, as his number two and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.  November ballots will be cast for or against the singular man currently warming the cushioned chair behind the Resolute Desk.

Everything else is mindless palaver to fill cable-news airtime between the riots.

June is young and the summer’s delirium-inducing heat is already frying Washington.  The blood-thirsting mosquitoes are in full peckish force around my humble rancher a dozen miles off the Potomac littoral, and while they aren’t carrying coronavirus or worse protozoans, they’re infecting Washingtonians with febrile wishcasting.

And, no, I’m not referring to the feral no-goodniks snatching luxury items from high-end boutiques in City Center.  I mean the punditocracy paid to hypothesize while gawping dumbly at the urban marauders turning the capital city into an incandescent katzenjammer.

The drama du jour: President Trump considering replacing Mike Pence in the VP slot.  While witnessing a deputy swap is the equivalent of a lepidopterologist finding a Karner blue in the wild, it doesn’t stop the speculation from becoming an octennial parlor game for politicos.

Eight years ago, cable-news roundtables tittered with speculation that then-president Obama was mulling the Clinton option: faking to Biden but handing the ball to Hillary.  Mark Halperin and John Hellerman later confirmed the idea was bandied about by Obama’s top-level staff.  Like most Washington gossip, it never came to be.  But, at some point, the Bidon-Clinton switcheroo was discussed.

Might the same be happening now?  Political tea-leaf reader Curt Mills thinks so.  He reports that Pence has two possible replacements under hushed meditation. Both are blatant token picks to broaden Trump’s appeal beyond the white working class: former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and former Germany ambassador and short-lived intelligence chief Richard Grenell.

Why Haley and Grenell?  Besides the absence of pushback, and perhaps ticker-tape welcoming, from the hawkish foreign-policy establishment, both check a minority box.  Grenell is the first open homosexual to hold a cabinet seat; Haley is of Sikh descent.  The addition of either doesn’t just bump the ticket up to historical status (the first gay vice-president! Swooooooon.), but severs the talking point that Republicans are only represented by straight white men. 

Or so the conventional thinking (read: Jared Kushner’s Fifth Avenue cast of mind) goes.

Joe Biden has promised to enlist a female as his second-order. Trump could match Biden tit-for-tat with his own muliebritical veep or circumvent identity-obsessed Democrats entirely with a gay man at his side.  Whichever choice would make great fodder for the “Morning Joe” confabulations that Trump despises but can’t keep his attention off of.

The Haley pick in particular isn’t new to the grapevine.  Whispers of her ascension have soughed through elite Washington quarters for months.  Meghan McCain predicted Haley’s lancing of Pence with her stiletto; as did Paul Begala of CNN.

The inherent drama of a vice-presidential interchange makes such a move a traditional Trumpian donnée.  Ever the showman, the President craves a plot twist to keep the spotlight from casting someone else’s shadow.  What would make bigger headlines than replacing the white-haired, impassive Pence with a media-friendly diplomat or a brawling bud of Dorothy? The hooky copy writes itself: “Trump to Pence: You’re Fired!”; “Trump Throws a Hail Haley”; “Trump’s Gay Gamble”.  Here’s a freebie for the New York Post: “Trump’s Bets Big on a New Taj “Mahal(ey)”.

There’s just one problem: Trump is sui generis within the GOP ranks.  No elected Republican buys the nationalist Trumpian precepts in full.  Mike Pence helped unite evangelicals behind the former tabloid fixture in 2016, but has since subsumed his entire career and voting record to his boss’s policy whims.

Ditching Pence after a tenure of unassailable loyalty for a woman or a gay man would be a too-too sop to diversity mongers.  It would mean nothing to the Republican base.  It would win approximately zero votes from Democrats uncomfortable with the Iraq War-voting, crime bill-backing, female tress-caressing Joe Biden.

As Tucker Carlson laid out in a blazing half-hour monologue, no Republican official could bring him or herself to fully condemn the rash of looting occurring in major American cities.  Any denunciation, whether by Pence or Haley or Marco Rubio or random blue-jacketed conservative talking head, was qualified with an equal denouncement of structural racism.  Trump made no such caveat in his Rose Garden address promising a forceful end to the mayhem.

The truth is, Trump could draft the only sitting Republican on the town council of Lincoln, Rhode Island, as his number two and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference.  November ballots will be cast for or against the singular man currently warming the cushioned chair behind the Resolute Desk.

Everything else is mindless palaver to fill cable-news airtime between the riots.