V. R. for V. P.

Vivek Ramaswamy has dropped out of the Republican Party primaries in a manner that perfectly completes the first stage of his campaign to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate. He is the one primary candidate who at no point in the process had any intention of winning the primaries or setting himself up as a serious contender. His whole purpose all along, self-evidently, was to establish himself as the perfect Trump stand-in along the primary campaign trail.

Of all the candidates to enter the race, Ramaswamy was the only one who meticulously refused to set himself up as a rival to Trump on anything, the only one who eagerly courted Trump’s Fifty Million Minion March to Humiliation by identifying himself with their cause, right up to the point of shooting his hand up first, with a schoolboy’s cheerful enthusiasm, when a debate moderator asked the candidates whether they would be willing to support Trump should he win the nomination. Indeed, on the rare issue where he had previously spoken publicly against the cult and its leader, Ramaswamy was careful during his “primary campaign” to reposition himself so as to delete that awkwardly independent moment of his history. A candidate who at no point, and in no way, asserts himself as even marginally opposed to, or better than, the frontrunner in the race, may have a lot of goals in mind, but defeating the frontrunner is certainly not one of them. Garnering the attention and appreciation of the frontrunner and his followers, on the other hand, obviously is one of them.

Ramaswamy, whatever he is pretending to be, is nothing if not a craven calculator. He arrived early on at the conclusion that the foreseeable future of the Republican Party belongs to Trump and his idol-worshipping minions, and hence that opposing him or them in any way would only ensure his own erasure from any hopes of GOP electability, as it has for everyone else who has tried, until and unless they were willing to submit themselves to the shame of total self-abasement as a grovelling and apologetic ring-kisser, i.e., to imitate Ted Cruz. It would be far safer, he clearly determined, to use the primaries to effectively act as a Trump surrogate at the debates, thus currying favor with the cult, to attack any significant rivals to Trump with QAnon-friendly talking points, and to drop out of the race at the last moment before the Iowa Caucus, i.e., before ever really challenging Trump on a ballot. 

In short, Ramaswamy has run a fraudulent campaign, serving as attack dog for Trump under the pretense of being one of his rivals. He believes, it seems, that the surest way to the presidency, or at least the GOP nomination, is to play slavering sycophant to Trump for as long as it takes, puff up his paltry political resume as a vice presidential candidate (or even — who knows? — an elected VP), and then play the loyal mouthpiece until the dust clears and he can pitch himself as the most qualified person to carry the Trump mantle into the next generation.

I am tempted to say that someone should have reminded this mouthy blowhard of what happened to the last person who made a similar calculation, the one and only time that person had the nerve to stand up against Trump’s anti-constitutional vainglory. But then again, there seem to be two main differences between Mike Pence and Vivek Ramaswamy in this regard. First, Pence made his leap of faith back when naive establishmentarians were still imagining they could corral and contain Trump’s ego and thereby manage his cult’s devotion, whereas Ramaswamy is doing so years after every sentient being (including Ramaswamy himself when the winds of personal advantage seemed to be blowing that way) could see what Trump had done to the GOP, and what kind of threat he represented to the future of the constitutional republic. Second, for all his weakness and career self-seeking, Pence, like many old-style “conservative Republicans,” has always seemed to be willing to stand relatively firm on certain bare minimum principles regarding the defense and promotion of the U.S. Constitution, whereas Ramaswamy has all the appearance of one whose only motivating principles are self-promotion and personal advancement, regardless of means. Hence, while Pence served as Trump’s most faithful yesman until the conflict between that role and his sworn duty to country became too great to bear, Ramaswamy gives no evidence of having any such limiting factors in his mind — he will play the slavering sycophant through and through, without reservation or restriction, for as long as that appears to him to be the fastest and easiest way to the top. As usual with slavering sycophants, however, Ramaswamy’s vision of “the top” will turn out to be quite a bit closer to the other end.

As it happens, I suspect that Ramaswamy’s biggest obstacle to becoming Trump’s vice presidential pick is that Trump would never be able to remember or say his name correctly during campaign rallies, and as we all know, Trump’s vanity does not allow him to do anything that might cause embarrassment. Hence, I do them both a favor by profferring “VR for VP” as a campaign slogan the cult and its idol can manage, and which will save everyone the discomfort of having to remember how to say one of those weird foreign names all the time.

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