By Gail Collins – The New York Times.
There’s no reason you couldn’t do the Republican vice-presidential search as a reality show. Donald Trump is good at that stuff. Plus it’s more than two months until the convention, and I believe that many members of his party would welcome a diversion.
The contest for the second slot is already a lot like “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Everybody has to refer to the candidate as “Mr. Trump” and pretend his boorish exhibitionism is actually a demonstration of sublime leadership.
Don’t make jokes about nobody wanting to be the winner! There are plenty of contenders. Mike Huckabee made it clear he wouldn’t say no. And look at Newt Gingrich, hopping up and down and waving his hand. Whoops — Chris Christie just shoved Newt out of the spotlight. Trump said he might like a governor, so that should give Christie a boost. And a recent poll showed that as many as 15 percent of New Jersey Republicans think he’d be a good choice.
Just imagine the reaction at the network:
Producer 1: Are you kidding me? Do you know what kind of ratings those guys will draw? Anybody remember “The Mullets?” “Life on a Stick?”
Producer 2: “How about Carly Fiorina? We could show that clip of her falling off the stage.”
Trust me, things will improve. Rudy Giuliani’s name has come up. The great thing about Trump’s picking either Giuliani or Gingrich would be that you would have, for the first time in American history, an entire ticket made up of men who are on their third wife.
Rick Perry has declared his willingness to serve. Perry was the first of the 17 Republican presidential contenders to fall out of contention, but he’s still wandering around, looking … available. Waiting to have his hopes smashed yet again. Think of him as the show’s pet armadillo.
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who became famous with that ad about hog neutering, is being mentioned. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee declared herself open to the possibility in February. We are all familiar with Blackburn’s immortal speech about government regulation, which seemed to be a reworking of the famous poem about the failure of German intellectuals to stand up to Nazism. Except … more current. (“First they came for our health care. Then they took away our light bulbs … now they are coming after our ceiling fans.”)
Trump folk are talking about Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma. She’s not all that well known, but there are tons of selling points, including her stupendous enthusiasm for executing people, and a hatred of same-sex marriage so great that she eliminated benefits for all National Guard spouses rather than give anything to gay couples. And thanks to her strong support for fracking, Oklahoma experienced 907 notable earthquakes last year.
In their first TV challenge, veep hopefuls could compete with Fallin to see who could jump up and down hard enough to make the room shake. Winner is the first to break some crockery.
Challenge Two: The Christie Gaze. Contestants stand behind an orating Mr. Trump and vie to see who can stare blankly the longest.
Challenge Three: The Rubio Feast. Some Republicans believe that Marco Rubio is way, way more willing to consider a vice-presidential slot than he’s letting on. After all, he gave up his Senate seat to run for president. If something doesn’t come up before January, he’s going to have to leave politics and actually work for a living. In this contest, candidates will have to produce a buffet featuring foods that will remind us of their cruelest attack on Trump back in the day. Rubio, in memory of his “You know what they say about men with small hands” jibe, will be cooking finger food.
Challenge Four: The Giuliani Mention. Test of who can bring up the 9/11 terror attack the most times in a five-minute duel. Don’t count out Chris Christie on this one.
Challenge Five: Senator Ernst dares her competitors to come up with catchy slogans for the Trump campaign that involve castration.
Then it’s time for product placement. Candidates will prepare a new menu at a Trump restaurant, featuring food that they can connect with one of the presidential candidate’s ethnic or religious whipping boys. The model, of course, will be Trump’s “I love Hispanics!” tweet showing him chowing down on an alleged taco bowl for Cinco de Mayo. Dark horse Mike Huckabee is already planning a “Muslims are cool!” tabbouleh salad shoot for Eid al-Fitr.
In the last episode, Ben Carson, who’s on the vice-presidential search committee, could reprise his most quoted debate remark, announcing it’s time to meet the finalists and review “the fruit salad of their life.” Then the remaining contestants could vie to lasso prominent Republicans who are fleeing from Trump’s candidacy. Extra points if you catch Paul Ryan.