I once started touring town with a crown on my head, going from diner to gas station to 4-H festival to church breakfast, announcing myself as Miss Pennsylvania, perfecting my half-smile and perky wave along the way. I did this because, even though I never participated in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant and, in fact, never had a date in high school, I badly needed some momentum in my love life. I figured that if I acted like I’d won a beauty contest, I’d eventually meet a nice doctor. Or something.
Of course, I didn’t actually do this. Even if I had attempted to snatch a crown from the pedestal of history, I wouldn’t win. One look at my hair and somewhat-lopsided eyes is a testament to the fact that I am the kind of woman grandmothers used to sit by their sides on Saturday nights to watch Lawrence Welk.
The point I am inartfully trying to make is that one does not put the cart before the horse, especially if one’s horse is three steps away from the glue factory.
Which brings me to Ted Cruz. The GOP candidate who is, by all accounts, trailing Donald Trump in both delegates and the popular vote is not only not throwing in the towel, he is wrapping it around his head like a turban and pretending to be the Amazing Kreskin who will, poof!, extract a convention victory out of Carly Fiorina’s mouth.
Last week, Cruz announced that Fiorina was going to be competing in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. No, scratch that. What he announced was that Fiorina would be his vice president pick in the general election, which he has apparently convinced himself he will be running in against either Hillary Clinton or the person who hires a member of the Salvadoran drug gang MS-18 to kidnap the former secretary of state and keep her incommunicado until November. Because essentially, that is the only way that Hillary “make sure you don’t forget the Rodham” Clinton is going to be AWOL come autumn. She is inevitable.
Cruz, on the other hand, is far from inevitable. His numbers, while better than those of John Kasich, are nothing compared to the juggernaut, Trump. And while the political honchos are still weaving scenarios in which there could be a contested convention and Cruz could snatch the nomination from Trump, those of us who are not hitting our heads against the looking glass have sadly come to the realization that it will be a Trump-Clinton contest after the conventions. This is sort of like the Rumble in the Jungle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, only with more testosterone.
So when I watched the senator from Texas get up to the podium and, after a long preamble, announce his VP choice, I was perplexed. It was just like my fantasy of pretending to have won Miss Pennsylvania, only my fantasy played out in my head while Cruz was exposing his to an audience of hopeful-but-ultimately-puzzled supporters.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Fiorina is magnificent. During the early debates, she wiped the floor with whoever else was on stage next to her, and she held her own with Trump when he went on one of his misogynistic rants about her face. I, for one, don’t understand the insults because I think she is very attractive, but my judgment is suspect. I wore rayon well beyond the 1970s.
And yet, that is an irrelevancy, which everyone except Trump seems to understand. The way a woman looks should have no bearing on the way she is perceived by voters, and I say this as a person who is frequently told that she needs a drastic makeover (so you could only imagine what I’d get if I ran for public office). Many people have also attacked Fiorina’s business record, continually pointing to the massive job losses suffered at Hewlett-Packard on her watch.
But the majority of those who have examined her history at both HP and in the business world in general have a strong and positive opinion of her abilities. Furthermore, her intelligence is awesome, and she easily dwarfs 90 percent of the people still running in the election (her new running mate being the possible exception) when it comes to brain power.
And yet, it is strange, and premature to be talking about what a great vice president Fiorina would be — and I think she’d be a great one — when the person at the top of her purported ticket has a slim-to-none chance of actually being the presidential nominee in July.
This does not mean that I don’t want him to be the nominee. I’d take anyone over Trump at this point, including the barista at my local Starbucks who finally figured out that my name is spelled with “Ch” and not a “K.” The kid clearly has a steep learning curve, but he’s learning. I can’t say the same for Trump.
With Cruz, I know I'll be getting smart, and with Fiorina, I know I'll be getting tough. The two of them together would make a formidable team. But the premature announcement looks like a Hail Mary pass made by a kid in the Pop Warner league to his mother. It looks juvenile, amateur and desperate.
Or, it could just be that magical thinking I was talking about, where you steal a crown and start parading yourself around as a winner despite all the evidence to the contrary. And that just makes you look crazy.
Which doesn’t usually win elections. At least, not up till now.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.