Mitt Romney is going to pick a running mate! I know this for a fact because I got a personal email from Mitt saying that he would very much like to introduce me to his selection after I pay $3 to enter a special "Join My VP Choice and Me at a Future Event" contest.
It's that or Michelle Obama's personal invitation to "a little celebration" for the president's birthday at their home in Chicago. Which also involves a $3-per-ticket raffle, but I could tell from her warm message that the first lady is really hoping the winner is me.
"Future Event" does not sound quite as cool as "a little celebration." Still, if it involves meeting Tim Pawlenty ...
We have been hearing so much about Romney's possible picks for vice president. Who will it be? As a public service, I have been reading the books written by the likeliest contenders. Just so you won't have to.
Bobby Jindal: Leadership and Crisis
Readers of books by politicians with presidential ambitions is always an endurance contest, in which we are forced to struggle through long chapters with titles such as "Do We Really Want to Be Like Europe?" in order to get to the little nuggets of personal stuff.
Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, sounds kind of charming when he's writing about his family life. (On one of his first dates with his wife-to-be, a chemical engineer, Jindal took her to New Orleans where "we drove down River Road, and I pointed out plantation homes and Supriya pointed out chemical plants.") Also, he delivered one of his children himself on a bathroom floor. And I really would have liked more details about how he got to be in charge of the state health care system at age 24.
The policy part is much more predictable. He doesn't want us to be like Europe.
Tim Pawlenty: Courage to Stand
Pawlenty is said to have bonded with Romney when they were both passed over by John McCain in favor of Sarah Palin. That seems like a sort of pathetic foundation on which to build a relationship, but this book demonstrates that the two men actually have a lot of other things in common.
For instance, they were both governors. In Pawlenty's case, of Minnesota. ("Minnesota is an interesting place.")
They are also both proud of having a lively sense of humor. In his book, Pawlenty tells readers that once when he was introduced to a man who had just gotten a new hearing aid, he cracked up the room by "moving my lips as if I were talking but without saying anything so he'd think something was wrong."
Paul Ryan: Young Guns
One of the great things about Paul Ryan's book is that it's short and he only wrote a third of it. You can get credit for having read the entire oeuvre of the premier budget wonk in the House of Representatives in less than an hour.
Young Guns begins on March 11, 2010, which I'm sure you remember as the day when House Republicans agreed to a one-year moratorium on earmarks. Afterward, Ryan; Eric Cantor, the future majority leader; and the Republican whip, Kevin McCarthy, "gathered around Diet Cokes and bottled water to discuss this milestone" for the benefit of their readers. During this discussion, Ryan expresses the opinion that Democrats want government to be more like that of Europe.
Later, Ryan contributes three chapters on policy, in which he accuses liberals of trying to create "a new American person who no longer strives to better oneself." If you are looking for personal insight, all I can tell you is that as a kid, when he got a B rather than an A on his report card, his allowance was cut from $4 to $2.
Rob Portman: Wisdom's Paradise
I am totally rooting that Romney picks Sen. Rob Portman for his running mate. First of all, Portman is from my hometown Cincinnati, as is the House speaker, John Boehner. If Portman became vice president, we could probably expect a surge of stories about how Cincinnati is taking over the nation's politics, and I would enjoy that very much.
Also, he does an excellent imitation of a chicken.
Portman's biggest literary achievement is co-writing this book about the history of a Shaker settlement in Ohio, which was far and away the most enjoyable read on my list. It does not contain any insights on the nation's drift toward the dictatorship of big government, but it does have an interesting section on the Shakers' feelings about the danger of "reckless bathing."
Condoleezza Rice: No Higher Honor
Oh, please! Condoleezza Rice is not going to be nominated for vice president. Mitt Romney was having a bad day/week/month, and some of his supporters decided to float a distraction with a name that would help bloggers generate a lot of Web traffic.
I will be discussing this phenomenon further in my upcoming post: "Lady Gaga Is Being Vetted by the Romney Campaign."