While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney slogs through the long hot summer, much of the speculation is on whom he will chose as his running mate. He'd have a hard time doing any worse than John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 (she is depicted as painfully disconnected from then-current events in the HBO movie Game Change based on the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin).
Maybe Romney should heed the words of Republican strategist Ed Rollins in making his choice. Last week Rollins complained that the GOP — let me paraphrase here — is too old, too white and too fat. He urged party members to do a better job of engaging Latino and African-American voters. I guess Romney didn't get that memo before he went to the NAACP convention seeking boos. However, he could improve his standing with the civil rights crowd — and help his problem with the ladies — by selecting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his running mate. She's not white, not fat, not that old and the right-wing crowd loves her.
But word is that Condi is not that big on the idea.
Who else is out there? New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn't help on the white and fat tip. Youthful Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, would help on the Latino front. However, for some reason the now-Catholic Rubio attended a Mormon church for several years and the conservative crowd probably doesn't want to double down on the Church of Latter-Day Saints, given evangelical suspicions about how it relates to their Christianity.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who wields his budget cuts like the sweeping scythe of the Grim Reaper, would probably help deliver the conservative base. But the guy looks like Frankenstein without the knobs in his neck. Romney probably doesn't want anyone stiffer looking and scarier than himself stumping around the country.
When asked back in April if he would consider Rick Santorum, who dogged him from the right during the primary season, Romney declared, "Everybody is on my list. I'm not taking anybody off the list, alright?"
But he may have dropped a clue about his real plan for a vice president in one of his most famous quotes of the campaign. Remember: He said, "Corporations are people, my friend." Well he should pick one of his people as a running mate. It would be the ultimate public-private partnership. My first thought is he should renew his romance with Bain Capital. But he's been running away from that relationship lately.
Indeed, the latest question is when exactly that marriage broke up in the first place. Was it 1999, as Romney claims? Or was it 2002, when his name finally came off the corporate papers? Bain doesn't even have a cool logo some model could stick on his head and strut around like a college sports mascot. And there would be the inevitable questions of how many foreign bank accounts Bain has and how many jobs it's off-shored. No, having Bain on the ticket would be the equivalent of Obama taking the Rev. Wright out on the stump. Romney will have to kick that corporation under the bus for the moment.
Although Romney was born in Detroit (we heard of his high jinks assaulting a long-haired student while attending Cranbrook), I get the feeling that none of our local auto companies would make the short list for veep. Once upon a time it was believed that what was good for GM was good for America. But now that GM has lowered itself to openly taking government welfare, it has become a second-class citizen. The same thing goes for Chrysler (I guess Chrysler is American now that Daimler has dumped it). Although Ford Motor Company didn't declare bankruptcy and take a handout like the other two, still the sting of Romney's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" column in the New York Times lingers. Besides, the auto companies would just bring along their union friends, and I don't think Romney is really a union kind of guy.
What about McDonald's? It has those golden arches that seem to beckon you to a land of enchantment and wonder. Maybe they could slip a little something into the hamburgers to make folks feel just a little bit more right-wing. On the other hand, the toys in the Happy Meal look a little too much like the "free stuff" Romney decried while speaking to the NAACP. And Ronald McDonald too closely resembles Joe Biden in a clown suit. I could imagine a vice-presidential debate with those two honking horns at each other, popping out of boxes and making balloon animals.
I thought about Geico, but Martin the gecko has a decidedly Cockney accent that wouldn't play well with the birthers. The same goes for British Petroleum. It may have oiled up the Gulf of Mexico and gotten away with it in true American corporate fashion, but we're not ready to return to any union with the Brits unless they kneel and kiss Romney's ring, build a giant wall so you can't see France from their shores and promise to give up soccer for good old American football. And William and Kate have to spend at least half their time stateside.
ExxonMobil is a real American corporation. We've got their oil from the Valdez spread all around Alaska to prove it. Then again maybe Romney doesn't want to play up the whole Alaska thing. It didn't work out so good for the last Republican presidential candidate.
Wal-Mart might be the best choice. It seems to stand for most of the same things that Romney stands for. The Walton family members are among the richest in the country, yet their employees are among the lowest paid and most badly treated — the perfect metaphor for the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. Wal-Mart doesn't stand for union organizing, and most of us are going to need their cheap prices after Romney gets through with the country. On the other hand, why should the Waltons take a pay cut and have to spend their time hobnobbing with mere politicians?
Wait a minute! It just occurred to me. There's no reason to seek any of these other corporations to be Romney's running mate. There's a corporation that has shown its toughness, its stamina, its willingness to take on the Democrats in a no-holds-barred struggle to the end. It's Koch Industries. David and Charles Koch could give us a two-headed vice president that would be content to stand behind the scenes and pull the strings. Besides, no other corporation has a better edge: The Kochs already own the Republican Party.
Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]