He rages like a bellowing baboon, evinces the integrity of Joe Isuzu, and shows the self-control of Lindsay Lohan on a bender. He shoots himself in the foot so regularly that his entire presidency may soon have no leg to stand on.
Plenty of smart people now believe Trump will be gone from the Oval Office by Labor Day, either by resignation or impeachment or via Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. It is not an unreasonable assumption.
If that happens – and this is purely hypothetical, not predictive – plenty of pressing questions will suggest themselves. Such as will President Pence emphasize the same policies as Trump? Will Pence completely re-staff the West Wing? Will the public and the media give Pence a honeymoon period?
But the biggest question, right off the bat, will be: Whom will Pence nominate for vice president?
Names that will arise but will not be chosen include Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich and Condoleezza Rice. Solid choices who surely will be seriously considered include Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Jim Mattis and Ben Sasse.
But here's both a prediction and a preference: If Trump leaves office, New Hampshire's former attorney general and Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be Pence's choice. And for good reason.
Even though Ayotte lost her bid for re-election last year – she appeared to be dragged down by Trump, who lost by a bigger margin than she did in New Hampshire – her personal favorability ratings remained net positive in the midst of a strongly negative campaign waged against her.
Ayotte is impressive, serious, and knowledgeable, but also likable and approachable. Her background as a prosecutor and her reputation for probity would make her a good counterpoint to the Trump administration's disregard for ordinary norms of behavior. Her embrace, in the Senate, of issues related to the military and homeland security, and her reputation for sober-minded realism in foreign affairs, will play well with Trump's "national-security voters." Trump's blue-collar supporters will also like that she worked across the partisan aisle to focus on boosts for manufacturing workers.
As conservative as a New Englander could possibly be while still remaining politically viable – her American Conservative Union rating of 76 is solid – Ayotte has a record puts her in the party's ideological sweet spot, acceptable to almost all factions. Those conservatives who do consider her too moderate will nonetheless be reassured by her perfect pro-life ratings and by her superb work as the Senate "shepherd" for the nomination of conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Of course, the political considerations for a mid-term vice president aren't the same – and aren't as immediately overwhelming – as they are when a nominee chooses a campaign running mate. It's not as important to seek geographical or ideological balance or other vote-attracting abilities. Still, for public confidence in an administration, especially for one led by a man not directly elected to the presidency, a sense of "balance" and proportion and complementarity is important. Ayotte offers that to Pence, in spades.
Somewhat younger, somewhat more moderate, somewhat more apt to smile, significantly more expert on military minutia, and of course more directly able to be seen as empathetic with moms and career women than Pence is, Ayotte as Pence's deputy would provide the administration with an attractive, reassuring team to operate the ship of state.
Ayotte also has a becoming way of taking issues quite seriously without taking herself too seriously. Speaking of ships (of state or otherwise), she is famously patient with people garbling the pronunciation of her last name, smiling and saying when asked: "Just remember, it's not a boat, it's a yacht [uh-yotte]."
Kelly uh-yacht and her young family would make excellent inhabitants of the vice president's residence at Washington's Naval Observatory. And the prospect of a Pence-Ayotte administration should make not just the Capital, but all Americans, know that the rough seas of the Trump-storm are abating.
Quin Hillyer (@QuinHillyer) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a former associate editorial page editor for the Washington Examiner.
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