This piece originally appeared as my monthly column in my hometown newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The worst job I ever had was back in high school--using a pitchfork to clean the livestock stalls when the country fair ended. But that task was downright delightful compared with the manure slinging involved in being Donald Trump's running mate.
As pundits speculate about who will take on this impossible task, let's explore a list of suspects (assuming Trump hasn't already cursed an unfortunate soul with his choice by the time this column is published).
Primary competitors usually make a muddy puddle of potential running mates, and this election cycle is murkier than most. A whopping sixteen other candidates sought the Republican nomination, so we would think there might be plenty to choose from.
Ted Cruz finished second, but he has called Trump a "pathological liar," a "narcissist," and a "rat," among other colorful criticisms. Well, that might be awkward on the campaign trail.
Marco Rubio won a few states and was a Republican establishment favorite, but he implied that Trump has a small … umm … you know what. There's not enough mind bleach in the world to scrub that thought away. Thanks for nothing, Marco.
John Kasich said that Trump would lead the nation on a "path to darkness" that is "the antithesis of all that American has meant for the last 240 years." "Path to Darkness 2016!" is a more apt bumper sticker than Trump's deplorable slogan, "Make America Great Again!"
After endorsing Trump, Ben Carson became perhaps the worst campaign surrogate ever, flattering Trump with such commendations as, "He has some major defects--there’s no question about it," and "Are there better people [for president]? Probably." Hillary Clinton's campaign could make an excellent ad out of Carson's "endorsement" of Trump.
Trump's most likely running mate among his former opponents is Chris Christie, who is leading Trump's ridiculously premature "transition team." But the notoriously hot-headed New Jersey governor once said of Trump, "I just don’t think that he’s suited to be president of the United States." Christie will most likely be transitioning back to the bridges of New Jersey.
Another Trump endorser is Jimmy McMillan, the founder of "The Rent is too Damn High Party." Yes, that's real. But considering McMillan is African-American and Trump has been sued for not renting to African-Americans, that match doesn't seem too damn likely.
Perhaps Trump could select one of the high-ranking Republicans in Congress who have whole-heartedly endorsed him. (Please insert cricket chirps here.)
One of the few Republicans who has campaigned enthusiastically (and incoherently) for Trump is Sarah Palin. She already has experience as a losing VP candidate, so she'll be best prepared for the drubbing Hillary will give the Donald in November. Another former party luminary rumored for VP is Newt Gingrich, whose main qualifications seem to be that he rivals Trump in scandals, con artistry, and ex-wives.
Trump could "honor" our Bay State and select former short-term Senator Scott Brown, himself once considered a presidential possibility. Trump has even been imitating Brown's racist criticism of Elizabeth Warren's Native American ancestry. That worked out so well for Brown that he now spends more time pimping weight-loss pills than serving his Wall Street overlords in Congress.
Trump has gotten so much free corporate media coverage that he could consider what passes for "professional journalists" these days. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who once salivated over the multiple Trump appearances on the allegedly liberal network, recently started a tepid Twitter war with the wannabe "Commander in Tweet," so he's probably out of the running.
Fox News's Sean Hannity has been Trump's biggest cheerleader at the propaganda wing of the Republican Party. He has a history as an apologist for criminals such as George Zimmerman and Cliven Bundy, which could translate well in defending Trump. "Fox and Friends" gave Trump a forum for his "Birther" nonsense four years ago, so any of those interchangeable morning hosts would be comfortable helping to build Trump's wall.
Trump's negative ratings are so high that he could consider someone even less popular. One possibility is Martin "Pharma Bro" Shkreli, the smirk-faced, disgraced drug industry CEO. Shkreli has praised Trump and clearly sees him as a role model when gouging patients for unspeakable profits on AIDS medication. It's only a matter of time before Maury Povich says of Trump's relationship with Shkreli, "You are the father!"
If all else fails, Trump could choose a fellow reality TV star. Those "Real Housewives" all seem to be Republicans and as fake-wealthy as Trump. As an added bonus, Trump might find his fourth wife from among the youngest in the group.
Sensible people would rather clear manure with their bare hands than ponder being Trump's Vice President. Being so closely aligned with Trump would require an extremely high tolerance for repeated embarrassment along with correspondingly low standards for honesty, knowledge of the issues, and basic human decency.
Hmm … maybe that's the answer. The most appropriate candidate to be Trump's running mate is … Trump himself! His ego is certainly "yuuuuge" enough to hold both positions simultaneously. And he'd probably be happy to take on the second job if he could find a way to profit from it at the expense of American voters.
John Sheirer is an author and teacher who lives in Florence. His most recent book is, "Make Common Sense Common Again." Find him at JohnSheirer.com.