This appears to be a week for wildly implausible political punditry. First, Douglas Schoen and Andrew Stein proposed in The Wall Street Journal that Hillary Clinton mount a comeback by challenging Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. Then, in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman held out the prospect of Biden dropping Kamala Harris and choosing Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (Wy.) as his running mate when he seeks re-election two years from now.
In the spirit of these farfetched scenarios, I'd like to add one of my own that at least has the virtue of pointing in the direction of something that could conceivably (but won't) happen and might marginally help Democrats to increase their electoral support if it did.
"Hogan" is, of course, Larry Hogan, the popular Republican governor of the deep blue state of Maryland. He clearly wants to run for president, despite the fact that his moderate policy stances and all-around reasonableness place him on the outer fringes of a GOP deep in the throes of conspiratorial populist convulsions. This means Hogan has a close-to-zero chance of going anywhere in the Republican primaries in 2024.
But what if Hogan switched parties to become a conservative Democrat? He wouldn't have a whole lot of ideological company among Democratic officeholders, but he'd arguably be less of an outlier than he currently is in a party that treats absolute loyalty to Trump — including a willingness to parrot his delusional lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and excuse his incitement of an insurrection against the national legislature — as a non-negotiable requirement for advancement.
So let's assume Hogan flips to the Dems. And Biden continues to flounder. And Harris' approval numbers continue to flag. And polls reveal Biden's surest path to broader popularity involves tracking away from the progressive left and boldly embracing the ideological center. If all of those conditionals line up just right, isn't Biden bound to dump Harris and tap Hogan instead?
Almost certainly not. (A Democrat dissing the first woman of color to make it within a heartbeat of the presidency in favor of a former Republican white guy? Give me a break.) But it's a far more likely scenario than Biden elevating Cheney, who remains a conservative Republican in every respect besides fealty to Trump, shares a last name with the man many Democrats took to calling Darth Vader when he served as vice president to George W. Bush, and who has no track record of winning votes outside of Wyoming, one of the most homogeneously Republican states in the country.
By all means, let's indulge in outright political fantasy in order to fill column inches. But we pundits really should be careful to ground our pipe dreams just the tiniest bit in political reality. Otherwise, we run the considerable risk of looking ridiculous.