So Donald Trump is fawning over Joni Ernst, which is getting the right people excited about his picking her to be his Vice President. And honestly, compared to a lot of other choices (Newt!) she might be the best pick.
Politically, I mean. Certainly not in terms of being good for the country, or being anywhere near the Oval Office. But given that, if she is Vice-President, her one boss is the single most dangerously-unqualified person to ever “serve” (a term that would lose all meaning in the Age of Trump), she might seem ready to go just by dint of comparison.
The Junior Senator from Iowa made her rise to right-wing prominence by releasing a pro-castration ad where she threatened to make big pork-barrel spenders “squeal”, the way she used to do with hogs. This mix of anti-PC bingo and juvenile sexuality made hearts stir, nethers tingle, and launched her into talk-radio superstardom (she remains, as far as I can tell, the only sitting senator for whom “castration” is a google autofill, though I could recommend some others).
She’s pretty, with a nice smile. She is a 20-yr veteran. She’s a hog farmer. If we want to compare her to her most obvious antecedents, she’s smarter and more polished than Sarah Palin and less of a loon than Michelle Bachman. That may seem like small beer, but it matters. She’s a pretty good talker, and most importantly, she’s amazing at lying about just how incredibly conservative she is. Let’s go over some hits.
- She’s anti-Agenda 21, which means she believes that the UN is going to come in and take our vital fluids. That’s garden-level wackadoodleness, but it is pretty damning for a grownup to believe.
- It’s not really needed to say, but she’s fairly pro-gun.
- She believes strongly that the states should decide minimum wage. That isn’t a “state vs feds” issue, solely. Or rather it is, but it is one that gets right to the heart of the issue. She thinks that states should be able to do whatever they want to people, with no Constitutional oversight, and no protection. It’s a mentality that encourages a race to the bottom, allowing states like Mississippi to become “business friendly” by removing all workers’ rights.
- More to the point, she believes strongly in nullification. It’s not incidental; it’s the core of her beliefs. She wants to essentially make the federal government subservient to the states. That’s the whole damn project. If you do so, you can strip any environmental protection, any workers’ rights, sell off all the public land, and impose whatever racial theocracy you want. That’s key to Ernst. You might think it a strange position for a senior member of the Executive Branch to have (that is, that the executive branch shouldn’t do anything), but here we are.
- I guess it isn’t that she doesn’t believe the Executive should do anything. She very strongly supports a Personhood amendment. And this is why I think she’s a good pick. During her Senate campaign, she was very clear about being very muddled on the issue, saying time and time again that such an Amendment was merely definitional, and wouldn’t change anything, so what’s the big deal. It was merely a “statement of support for Life.” It raised the question: if it didn’t do anything, why did she care? It’s a strange idea for an Amendment. Most Amendments aren’t just statements. But she was excellent about obfuscating what for the far right are important totems, but for low-information voters are confusing.
But it worked! And what’s more, though I can’t find any links now, the media was happy to let her get away with it, praising her for tacking to the middle without alienating the base (in other words, totally lying). She’s smart like that, and better at it than most Republicans.
She’s someone the media likes because they know they shouldn’t but it makes them feel very catholic to do so. Yes, if Trump picks her, her record will be taken apart, but not as much as with Newt or Sessions, for god’s sake. We’ll hear how Trump is softening his image with women, and how it’s a smart strategy to fire up the conservative base (as if they needed it). I don’t know if it’ll get him more votes. But I don’t think she’ll be a Palin-level disaster, and it might help with some extremely-low-information voters. He’ll still lose, but what the hell. It’s not like he’s going to get some steady hand on the till of the state. He’s not going to drag, say, Dick Lugar into this mess. Shit, the next best choice is Mike Pence, and he managed to make NASCAR and Wal-Mart slap down Indiana. Ernst might be the best possible pick, and that says everything you need to know.