“The choice is gonna knock your socks off,” said McCain operative Chester Pratt. “Not just your socks, but your support hose as well, and if we’re lucky, your undergarments, too. I think you folks in Utah are going to be real happy with John McCain’s running mate.”
Initial speculation has centered on Mitt Romney, of course, though Governor Huntsman’s name has also been mentioned. Even Bob Bennett, improbable as it might seem, has emerged as a dark horse candidate, despite the fact that he is twice as tall as McCain. Chris Cannon is a more likely choice, with campaign strategists pointing out that his essential nuttiness would divert attention away from McCain’s prickly personality, not to mention his frequent episodes of lunacy.
Attractive as all these Utahns would be, we have it on good authority that none of them will be McCain’s veep. The man who will share the podium with the Republican presidential nominee on the Fourth of July will be none other than Utah’s senior senator, and we mean senior, the honorable Orrin G. Hatch.
“That’s a pretty good guess,” said McCain operative Chester Pratt, clearly rattled. “How did you know? Course, I’m not saying you’re right, but what was the give-away? Did somebody leak you the info?”
There were, indeed, several clues. Everyone has been saying that McCain would need to pick a younger man in the full bloom of life to quell fears that the elderly hothead was simply too old, too forgetful, and too crotchety to become president. But it has been clear for a long time that what McCain really needed was someone who would make him look vigorous and virile. Just on that ground alone, it became obvious that Senator Hatch was that man.
Once the McCain people realized they needed someone tottering on the edge of the grave to divert attention away from McCain’s own decrepitude, Hatch’s name came to the top of the list. Other names, however, did come up for consideration.
Dwight Eisenhower got the enthusiastic support of many McCain insiders, including McCain himself, who reportedly was much taken with the former president’s military accomplishments. When one of the less forgetful members of the McCain team remembered that General Eisenhower was deceased, the disappointment in the room was palpable. For a while, the argument that the late commander of Allied Forces in World War II, though dead, was still more alive that the current vice president, Dick Cheney, kept his name in play. Eventually, however, the McCain campaign bowed to reality, and turned to candidates who manifested signs of life, however shaky.
Former presidential candidate Bob Dole was considered to be too youthful, so the name of the erstwhile Viagra poster boy was scratched from the list. No one was quite sure whether Strom Thurmond, last thought to be 123 years old, was still breathing. Finally it came down to Senator Hatch, and after some half-hearted squabbling (a couple of staffers didn’t like the fact that Orrin was once—many, many years ago—a drinking buddy of Teddy Kennedy and accompanied him and his bride on their honeymoon to serenade them every evening with original love songs) the man from Utah got a unanimous thumbs-up.
Insiders say Hatch has helped his cause by the enthusiasm with which he has embraced senescence. Recently, for instance, the senior senator has been making a nuisance of himself by penning crotchety letters to the vast Republican base, repeatedly spelling Barack Obama’s name incorrectly. And he has been quick off the mark in defending John McCain’s senior moments. When McCain had trouble differentiating the Sunnis from the Shiites, Senator Hatch called a news conference to say that he frequently mixes up the two groups.
“Look, trying to keep all these weird groups straight just wears me out. I often have to lie down and take a nap. Listen, it took me years just to figure out the differences between all those fellas in the Book of Mormon, the Lehites and the Nephites and the Lamanites and the Jaredites and the Whateverites. So how can you expect anyone to figure out where the Shiites fit into the picture?”
Meanwhile, in another move to make McCain more youthful, Bush cabinet member Mike Leavitt has offered to let the candidate borrow his hairpiece.
D.P. Sorensen writes satire for City Weekly.