BY Michael J. Cozzillio and Krista J. Cozzillio
Recently, the highly regarded senior senators from Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar, withdrew their names from consideration as potential running mates with likely Democratic nominee Joseph Biden. Others have raised the possibility of similar selfless decisions.
Under those circumstances, the following conversation is neither a pure fantasy nor, of greater importance, a concession to some misogynistic trope that women are incapable of getting the job done. While contemplating this hypothetical exchange troubles us greatly as it once again asks women to wait in line, does it not conceivably provide us with a virtual certainty come November and a true national hero to assist the Executive branch in restoring dignity and competence to a severely damaged Presidency.
5:30 a.m. The Phone Rings …
Kamala Harris: Hello?
Amy Klobuchar: Good morning, Kamala. Did I wake you?
KH: No, I had to get up to answer the phone anyway … that was a little West Coast humor.
AK: Oh, I get it. We move a little slower in the Midwest!
KH: What’s up, Amy?
AK: I could not sleep thinking about the country’s future. I need to ask you a very serious question.
KH: Fire away.
AK: Is a woman’s place on the ticket a matter of necessity?
KH: It’s close. Where are you heading with this?
AK: Well, I want to enlist your support for a controversial idea to win in November, one that may involve setting aside personal aspirations as well as long overdue vindication for women.
KH: I am definitely wide awake now. Obviously if you are talking about the greater good, we should all be willing to step up … or step down, as it were.
AK: It’s really pretty simple. Joe has promised to name a female running mate. In light of the exigencies, what if we unselfishly help him walk back on that promise? Is it unreasonable to ask that other women will take one for the team and consider the long game? Believe me, in light of recent events, I recognize how painful such a decision would be and how much it might appear that we are abandoning so many important causes.
KH: Look, I have no problem with it. There is plenty of time for us and frankly most of the women that he is considering, except for Liz, are young enough to put things on hold for a while, and Liz can always be counted on to place the country first. The one question that I do have is why you see all of this as a zero sum game? Why can’t we have a woman VP candidate and still win?
AK: Good question. It should not be a zero sum game. But we need some slam dunk assurances that the next in line has the cachet to guarantee a win. More importantly, we are in crisis mode and there is precious little time for the typical “apprenticeship.”
KH: I’m still listening. Is there anyone who can meet that standard, man or woman?
AK: Are you sitting down?
KH: It’s only six o’clock in the morning – I’m still prone!
AK: Barack Obama. Yes, you heard right!Could you imagine another four years minimum of an administration led by smart, experienced, dignified statesmen? First and Second Ladies respected throughout the world? Trump’s links have never seen a foursome like that. Of course, we would have to convince Barry! But let’s not assume that he would reject our overtures. These guys worked together for eight years; that old “two heads” saw has never been more apt, and, to put it mildly, I think the president (and I mean Barack) would love a shot at the pseudo-president. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Is the 22nd Amendment a hurdle even if we could get everyone to play ball?
KH: Nothing in the language prohibits it. If the modern framers had wanted to foreclose the possibility, they simply could have indicated that a former two-term president could not occupy any position in the “line of succession.” John Adams was a Congressman after his presidency. If he became Speaker of the House, he may only have been precluded from being elected, even if the 22nd Amendment as it is written had been in play. But will the public feel that we are pulling a fast one?
AK: It is a fast one. A smart one. What could be wrong with two people who each are qualified to be president sharing the Oval Office? It has its problems – but consider the benefits. We would go from Dumb and Dumber to A Few Good Men. One of America’s most beloved presidents and his teammate, one of its most revered public servants – each possessing the empathy gene which is in such short supply these days.
KH: Well, if we “frame” it in the right way, we just might be able to sell it! So, let’s assume that we can convince everyone to hop on board. Do you really believe that Barack would enter this maelstrom again – play second fiddle?
AK: Honestly, I have confidence that he would never place formality or ego above rescuing the nation from despair. Our cities are aflame, 120,000 people are dead. The world’s regard for us is diminishing daily. These are desperate times calling for the most dramatic and unconventional responses. If 2020 is going to be memorable, let’s give history something to remember.
KH: OK, let’s go for it! If it goes south, though, remember I was minding my own business in some heavy REM slumber when you called.
AK: Great. Let’s meet the A-listers and get their input. Then you can call Barack.
KH: Hey, wait a minute … I can call Barack?
AK: Talk to you later … Bye!
Michael J. Cozzillio, Esq. is a former member of the faculty at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law as well as Widener Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, where he has served as Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Law. He is currently Of Counsel to Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC. Krista J. Cozzillio is a graduate of Vassar College and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. She is a former law school administrator and area piano instructor.