A little over a week ago, along with other contributors to this site, I received a message from its Managing Editor-in-Chief (suitably captioned: "A message from the Great and Powerful Managing Editor-in-Chief", reminiscent of a movie made in 1938, just before I was born) Bil Browning entreating us to submit some "non-factual" news items for April Fools' Day.
Without muttering audibly I dutifully complied, submitting an offering concerning Idaho Senator Larry Craig's being on John McCain's short list for the Republican Vice-Presidential nomination. You wouldn't believe the volume of e-mail that has jammed my Outlook in reaction. Well, maybe you would. Here's a smattering:
"You've got to be kidding!" wrote one irate reader. "I don't know of any serious member of the Party of Abraham Lincoln that would entertain such a thought for one minute."
Well, I can cite all kinds of examples of where the current occupant of the White House has long departed from the original roots of the G.O.P. insofar as such things as basic civil liberties are concerned. Exhibit A: The Yoo Justice Department memo throwing the Fourth Amendment under the bus in the name of the endless "War Against Terror".
Another reader wrote: "Arizona and Idaho together add up to only 14 votes in the Electoral College. Why would John McCain want to put a disgraced senator from Idaho (which would contribute 3) on the ticket?"
Gee, and here I thought that Larry had spent enough time sitting in a Minnesota airport that he could easily be considered a resident of that state, which has 10 Electoral votes at stake. If Dick Cheney could pull off a Wyoming residence despite living in Texas, wouldn't Craig's domestic stalling in Minneapolis count for something?
I would ask my scoffing readers: Do you honestly think that Larry Craig would make a worse Vice President than Dick Cheney?
And is the thought of Larry answering the phone at 3:00 am in the Lincoln Bedroom utterly untenable?
And no, I have no idea as to whether or not the Lincoln Bathroom has a telephone next to the toilet seat. Or whether you can dial out on it at 3:00 a.m. (or 3:00 p.m. for that matter). This business about a Vice-President being ready to succeed to the Presidency on Day One is pretty stupid. I'm sure that should events warrant Larry would have no trouble familiarizing himself with those kinds of official bathroom surroundings. I don't really have all that much trouble visualizing Craig as Commoder-in-Chief.
Finally, there is a lot of precedent for a sitting Vice-President-turned-President presiding over his staff while doing his other business. Lyndon Johnson was noted for it, as reported here. (I searched in vain for a picture I know I saw in Life Magazine years ago. If any reader can find one, please send it on and I'll share it with anyone else who is interested, or, well, just share it anyway.)
Besides, it was an April Fools Day exercise, folks. Doesn't anyone understand the difference between fantasy and reality when it comes to the American Vice-Presidency? We do when it comes to the Presidency.
Well, some of us do, anyway.