High gas prices, rising unemployment, and tumbling home values may be lousy news for most Americans, but more and more our troubled economy looks like just the ticket for getting veep short-lister Mitt Romney on the bill with John McCain. Romney, my sources tell me, is insisting to top politicos in Boston and Washington that he does not think McCain will pick him. Problem is, few of these folks are buying the humble act. Here is what one conservative insider with Romney ties just told me in an E-mail:
My gut tells me he is going to choose Romney. He's vetted, he is credible on economic issues, he is acceptable to all three wings of the GOP conservative base (economic conservatives, social conservatives—except for strain of anti-mormonism in some southern states, national security conservatives), he is a proven vote getter in Michigan (also the Romney name is good in Wisconsin, where his dad opened up auto plants), there are a lot of mormons in CO, NM, NV—all key swing states, and he can provide a big boost to McCain's fundraising.
Me: This all reminds me of a wonderful scene in the 1990 film Awakenings about the catatonic victims of a long-ago encephalitis epidemic. (Stick with me on this one, gang.) Everyone just assumes that these stricken people have no awareness of their environment or the passage of time. When a young doctor (played by Robin Williams) wonders how on earth his fellow medical researchers can be so sure of their assumption, an older doctor (played by Max von Sydow) matter of factly replies, "Because the alternative is unthinkable."
And this is how I view the Race for No. 2. The alternatives are unthinkable. Well, almost. They pretty much all create as many problems as they solve. Take Tim Pawlenty, another guy on the short list, my sources tell me. The Minnesota governor might—might—help McCain in the "Land of a Thousand Lakes" and even in Wisconsin. But will voters perceive him as "ready on Day One" to handle a foreign policy crisis or fix the economy?
Watch McCain make fools of us all and pick former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.