My favorite moment of the last GOP debate was when Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, after some good-natured ribbing back and forth, engaged in a low-five near the podium. It was a really humanizing moment for both of them and got me to thinking “What if these two actually teamed up?” At first I dismissed it as crazy, but after thinking about it for a while, I legitimately think that selecting Jeb Bush as his running mate is one of the smartest things Trump could possibly do. Here are about 6.5 reasons why.
- It emphasizes the “team builder” nature of his business career.
There have already been several occasions where Trump has been challenged on his individual lack of knowledge about specific topics, or specific steps he will take to implement his policies. His response is usually something like, “Look, I’m going to get a team full of really smart people, and they’ll be the best team and the smartest people, and we’re going to figure it out together.” While the media typically spins this as a cop-out and a non-answer, anyone who has spent any time in business can tell you it’s actually a pretty accurate representation of how things generally work. The CEO of a company isn’t expected to know every single detail of every single department. His main task is that of team builder. He isn’t Iron Man, he’s Nick Fury. His main job is to put the right people in place and let them do their thing. As a (relatively) successful businessperson, Trump almost certainly has decades of experience doing this, and in the long run, this is probably a more useful skill to have than “has successfully memorized the names of every cabinet minister in Tajikistan.”
- It shows that he’s willing to “listen to the experts.”
This is somewhat related to #1, but with a slightly different spin. Trump also regularly faces criticism that his views differ from “expert consensus.” This typically rears its face in scientific (vaccine-related arguments) or economic (immigration arguments) issues. But Trump has also conceded that he is open to changing his mind if new evidence is introduced. He could help hammer this point home by appointing as his top advisor someone who disagrees with him on many issues, but is generally accepted as an expert politician if nothing else. Trump can easily spin this as “I’m an expert on making deals and negotiating, Jeb is an expert on the overall political environment, and together, we’ll be unstoppable!”
- It answers the “inexperienced” criticism.
Which leads us right into the “inexperienced” criticism. This is probably the most obvious benefit, as it has been very typical in recent elections for tickets to include one person who casts themselves as the independent outsider, and the other person who casts themselves as the steady, experienced, political veteran. This is exactly why Obama was willing to saddle himself with the idiotic serial-creepazoid that is Joe Biden. The one thing Biden brought was the ability to say “I’ve been around politics for fucking ever,” which seemed to satisfy all the “EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST THING TO HAVE” people well enough. Scott Adams (who was way early to the “Trump is going to win” bandwagon) has suggested that Trump should pick someone like Mark Cuban, but what good does that do? Trump already has more than the necessary amount of outsider credentials and status. He needs to balance that out with a boring party hack. And they don’t get much boringer or hackier than Jeb Bush…
- It allows Trump to keep being Trump.
Which means that not only can Trump balance out his ticket with an experienced person, but he can also balance it out with a “nice guy.” Traditionally, the candidate ends up playing the role of the civilized, calm, collected, intellectual while the VP plays the role of attack dog (think Obama/McCain and Biden/Palin). But let’s be real – there’s no way Trump is ever going to be civilized and dignified. Nor should he be, as that isn’t his strength. Once Jeb is signed up, he can have a full-time job going around the country and “clarifying” (basically apologizing but without officially saying so) any “gaffes” Trump commits. Trump could continue to wander the country saying really outlandish things, and Jeb can begin every one of his interviews with “Look, Donald is a really passionate and energetic guy who knows how to connect with the American people. I think the issue that we’re really trying to get at here is… *insert 30 minutes of sleep-inducing policy analysis that people who work for the Washington Post will find really interesting here*”
- It displays that he can be magnanimous in victory.
So far, there have been many occasions where Trump has come across as a bully and an asshole. This helps him a lot with certain people, but undoubtedly hurts him with others (is it sexist if I say this is probably mostly women?) But Jeb has been his biggest rival thus far. To end up offering something of an olive branch to someone who he was once viciously insulting shows that Trump isn’t really a mean guy – that it was only business. It shows that he can work together with someone he disagrees with for the purpose of achieving a common goal. This plays in VERY well with his entire businessman persona and presents him as someone who is brash, but can compromise when he needs to.
- It shows some loyalty to the GOP establishment.
Let’s be honest – the GOP still doesn’t like this guy and is desperately pouring all of their resources into Carly Fiorina in the hopes that she can do something, anything, to get him out of the picture. While Trump has already signed the “GOP loyalty pledge” (a move that I don’t think helps him much at all), he probably still needs to do a little more to win over the GOP faithful, and I’m not just talking about the big donors and the other politicians here. There are a decent amount of GOP voters out there who actually do listen to Sean Hannity every day and are fiercely loyal to the GOP itself, period, full stop. Selecting one of “their” guys would be a nice bit of outreach that those people would probably appreciate, and would help “unite the party” such as it is…
Bonus. It bolsters the “Bush legacy.”
OK, this isn’t so much a reason for why Trump should select Bush, but why Bush should accept. Let’s think about the Bush family presidential legacy for a quick second. Bush 1 was Reagan’s goofy, nerdy, sidekick who had one job and failed massively at it. Bush 2 was seen as a bumbling idiot who was the straight man to Dick Cheney’s evil overlord pulling the strings behind the curtain. But in comparison to Trump, Jeb would be seen as the genius. He would be the smartest guy in the room. Surely that would be a welcome change for the family image, would it not?
DISCLAIMER: I don’t really care about politics that much at all, and I don’t plan on voting in the primaries or in the general. I’m following this stuff for entertainment value only, and wrote this piece primarily because I think it’s a good idea that I haven’t really heard anyone else advocate just yet.