Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Littlefinger the Kingmaker

Sorry. Image via.
BooMan was wondering yesterday why Indiana's governor Mike Pence would be under serious consideration as Trump's vice presidential nominee: why he'd want the awful job in the first place (because he's not so confident he can get reelected governor, though not in as desperate shape as Chris Christie, but in more of a hurry than Christie, whose term has another two years to go); and what use he is to Trump, which as far as Boo is concerned is about nil—he's a real rightwing extremist on moral, economic, and foreign policy issues, and a prissy, humorless drip, unlikely to dissuade any business leaders, women, and young people from voting for Clinton.

I had a hypothesis which is pretty dumb, but fairly entertaining.

It's connected with the hypothesis that Trump doesn't want to win this election and doesn't even want to run but can't figure out how to get out of it without embarrassing himself: that Pence is being prepped to be the Hubert Humphrey of this convention, the one who can be acclaimed as the nominee without having stood in any primaries when Trump withdraws.

For the party, it would be something of a rescue: they wouldn't be able to win the presidency, but they've certainly given up on that for this year anyway—what they want desperately to do is hold on to the houses of Congress, which they well may be unable to do with Trump at the head of the ticket, and Pence, in spite of his radicalism, is such a zero in public personality that he at least won't do any harm. The press will treat him as a savior, ignoring his policy views and admiring his clothes and his noncontroversial speech style and presidential white hair. The loser candidates will gladly back him because he's not one of them (the reason they haven't been able to unify up to now is that after the campaign they all hate each other too much). The various Republican constituencies—the sexual obsessives, the libertarians, the Weekly Standard pseudo-wonks—will all find things they can admire (there were Kochs and Kristols touting him as an insurgent candidate all spring).

For Trump himself, he's a real choke artist, as we know from his real estate career. What he likes to do is to back out of a deal toward the end, working mainly to look as if he's in control and preserving his brand: that's why there are so many projects in the New York–New Jersey area named after him though he hasn't owned them for years, if ever. His ideal solution to his political problem would be to duck out of the presidential campaign with that $5-billion payoff and naming rights to the party, which could now be called the Trump Party and Republican Golf Resort.

Naming the nominee, serving as a Shortfinger the Kingmaker pushing his own candidate nobody's ever quite heard of, would be playing his Apprentice role, which begins with the assumption that he is the best person for all jobs by definition and therefore the best person to decide who's good enough. Who's better than the winner? The host of the show!

Image by Lincoln Agnew for Indianapolis Monthly.

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

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