Local View: Republican dream ticket would slate Trump for VP
From the column: "The high hurdle in this hypothetical, of course, would be persuading the egotistical former president to play second fiddle."
It was usually around this time of year when we’d wait with extreme impatience for the weather to break so we could gather at the old ball field for a pickup game.
Charlie, my oldest brother, and Chubsy Michau, who lived on the next block, appointed themselves team captains. One would flip a bat in the air to the other, and they would take turns gripping it, until the captain whose hand ended up on the knob at the top got first pick.
In those days, there were two other players from the neighborhood so bad at hitting and fielding that if one ended up on your squad, your chances of winning were zilch.
So, with a wink and a silent pact, the captains agreed that if Dickie B. or Ronnie Z. showed up, they would be assigned the role of catcher, where they couldn’t cause much damage behind home plate. And more importantly, it was understood that their turn at bat would not count. In other words, they would enjoy full benefits of participation, but the results would not go into the box score.
A similar kind of gentleman’s agreement may offer a resolution for Republicans for the 2024 presidential election. Will former President Donald Trump run? Will his 2020 loss and civil and criminal investigations doom the party's chances for victory? Will election results be contested again? Will there be a second Capitol insurrection?
To say that party regulars are afflicted with anxiety is an understatement: They can hop on the Trump train to another possible defeat or risk his wrath and considerable influence by choosing another path. Cold sweat might be a more accurate description than anxiety.
As someone outside the party, allow me to prescribe an antidote to Republican angst in the form of a dream ticket, a pair of candidates which the majority of voters might find acceptable. The idea is to nominate a qualified Republican candidate to run for president — and then slate Trump for VP.
What better way to stack the deck in your party’s favor than by including the ever-popular Trump, but installing him in a position in which his words and actions won’t really count in the “box score.”
Think of the advantages: Trump’s base would be appeased rather than incited, and they’d loyally march to the polls to support the ticket. Traditional Republicans and even independents could cast their presidential vote for a Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, or Nikki Haley, among others, secure in the knowledge that any of these experienced officeholders could be depended upon to support the platform and to make rational decisions in a crisis.
The high hurdle in this hypothetical, of course, would be persuading the egotistical former president to play second fiddle, especially if it’s to someone with whom he has sparred in the past, which would include all three of the aforementioned.
But Trump, with a history of succumbing to pressure applied by party stalwarts — as happened with issues such as guns, health care, and Dreamers when he was in office — might very well be persuaded that his return to the White House depends on his being demoted to VP.
Not to mention that occupying the office of runner-up would get him what he wanted, minus the responsibilities that he found annoying about being president.
Victory would send him back to Washington and behind a bully pulpit for his cherished rallies and press briefings. And Twitter and Facebook would be compelled to reinstate his accounts.
Furthermore, he’d be the executive branch’s designated official for travel to foreign countries, disaster areas, funerals, and coronations, where he’d be welcomed with bands, military parades, banquets, and even traditional dancing, which he so obviously enjoyed. Recall that memorable sword dance video in Saudi Arabia.
It’s well known that Trump loves the pomp and ceremony which the “duties” of the vice president historically involve, while he hates the real work of the presidency, especially when it requires reading, preparation, listening, or deep thought.
Being vice president would be a win for him, for the Republican Party, for the news media, and for whoever is elected president. And it would be a win, of course, for the country, which then would be spared further impeachments, “perfect” phone calls, a president who prefers to leave them in the dark about a global pandemic, and a president called by the Daily Mirror in the UK “Putin’s Poodle” for embracing the odious war criminal (85% of Republicans regard Russia as our enemy, according to a recent YouGov poll).
And if, while in office, one of the current criminal investigations against Trump leads to an indictment, he can make a quick and relatively quiet exit, a la Spiro Agnew.
David McGrath is formerly of Hayward, is an emeritus professor of Native American literature at the College of DuPage in Illinois, and is a frequent contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.