Now that he has triumphed over the marshmallow armies of the Republican establishment, Donald Trump has focused the hiring habits that he honed on “The Apprentice” on picking a vice president. The decision is of far-reaching importance to the Trump brand since the veep’s initials may someday be monogrammed on some of the lesser doors in the White House complex.
In keeping with his respect for political tradition, Trump has tapped veteran Republican lawyer A.B. Culvahouse to vet the contestants for the heartbeat-away job. Culvahouse, who performed the same role for John McCain in 2008, knows that Trump cannot afford to make VP mistakes like these:
- Spiro Agnew (1968) frequently lapsed into derogatory language — the sort of thing that would be banned in a Trump administration — like calling a reporter “a fat Jap.”
- Geraldine Ferraro (1984) initially resisted releasing all her tax information to try to cover up the shady New York real estate deals of her husband, John Zaccaro. The Queens-based Zaccaro was, by the way, a penny-ante loser compared to the mighty Trump Empire.
- Dan Quayle (1988) never could concoct a convincing explanation of how he managed to skirt the Vietnam draft. Unlike Trump, who was afflicted with the agony of bone spurs, Quayle was healthy enough to serve in the National Guard.
- Sarah Palin (2008), who was vetted by Culvahouse, failed to display even the rudiments of basic knowledge about public policy, Washington and the world. Since Palin enthusiastically endorsed Trump, the former Alaska governor has obviously grown in wisdom.
Of course, these sorts of missteps could never happen in a world-class Trump campaign. Which is why it is easy to imagine the VP questionnaire that Trump has prepared to evaluate these potential second bananas.
How large are your hands?
Has your sex life ever been on the front page of the tabloids? If not, why not?
Have you ever been divorced? If not, why not?
If divorced, what percentage of your assets did you retain after the settlement? (If the figure is less than 90 percent, please use a separate page to detail the flaws in your pre-nuptial agreement.)
Please describe your military experience. (Note: Attending a military school in place of high school counts double.)
If you served in Vietnam, please explain how you avoided capture — unlike some losers I could mention.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy ? If not, why not?
Will you provide the last 10 years of your tax returns? If the answer is “yes,” please explain why you feel that such personal financial information is anyone’s business.
Have you released any tax information in prior political campaigns?
If so, how would you justify your refusal to release your tax returns in 2016? (Hint: Denouncing the losers in the news media who are motivated only by financial envy is a strong answer.)
Did you attend business school? If so, was it Wharton?
If you received a liberal arts degree, please list the mitigating circumstances. (Acceptable answers might include qualifying for a family trust or being so busy watching the Miss Universe pageant that you didn’t have time to study.)
What course would you teach at Trump University ? (Hint: A course entitled “Constitutional Principles” will cost you points.)
Political and policy
Have you contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns? Did you invite the Clintons to your wedding?
Name the four legs of the nuclear triad?
Judging only from Sunday morning talk shows, who are your favorite national security advisers?
Please complete the following sentence: “Some of my best friends are …”
Please also complete this sentence: “The Bush family, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are …”
Do you recall seeing thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering on 9/11? If your answer is “no,” are you sure?
Who do you think should head the Office of News Media Clarification and Correction in the Trump White House?
What should the legal penalties be for publishing false information about President Trump?
Do you consider my daughter Ivanka to be hot? If so, how hot?
Have you ever stayed in a Donald J. Trump hotel, casino or played on a Trump golf course? If so, please describe the experience in detail as responses will be judged on the sincerity of the superlatives.
If you have not had the full Trump experience, please explain why you should be considered for the second-highest office in the land.
Please prepare a cost-benefit analysis on the merits of holding another presidential election in 2020.
Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is a veteran of Politics Daily, USA Today, Time, Newsweek and The Washington Post. His book on his con-man great-uncle will be published in June: “Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer.” Follow him on Twitter @MrWalterShapiro .