What must Jeb Bush have been thinking as he stood at a lectern in Philadelphia as if he was being forced into an arranged marriage with Tokyo Rose?
Just a few feet away sat Hillary Clinton, right there on the same stage with the heir to the Bush political dynasty. Even worse, the former Florida governor was expected to say something nice about her as she accepted the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal.
This was a bit like Alexander Hamilton being called upon to sing the praises of Aaron Burr's excellent marksmanship.
How did Bush, the Republican savior in 2016, get into this pickle of sharing the same ZIP code with the prospective Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nominee? What was he thinking?
"Just look at her coyly sitting there like a calculating Cheshire cat. The next thing you know I'm going to be expected to have my picture taken with her. She's going to try and hug me, just to be a smarty pants suit. Then Rush Limbaugh is going to be foaming at the mouth, accusing me of being a Kenyan/Socialist/Commie. Where does it end?
"What then? Rut-ro! I'm toast, that's what. I'm about to get Charlie Cristed for actually touching a Democrat. Well I'll tell you something, it's not going to happen. What does Pop-Pop say? Wouldn't be prudent. I'll just kick the plaque across the dais to her. That ought to work.
"What possessed the National Constitution Center to give Hillary Clinton, of all people, an award for her public service and advocacy efforts on behalf of women simply because she's served in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state and advocated for women's rights? What kind of resume is that compared to my own stellar dedicated service of simply being me? What? Hugh Hefner wasn't available? Didn't they realize I'm chairman of the board? When I find out who did this, they are going to get the mother of all wedgies. Why couldn't we honor Dennis Rodman for his diplomatic skills? Or Lance Armstrong for his sportsmanship? Or a Koch brother to be named later for the heck of it?"
What must Clinton have been thinking?
"I can't remember when I've had more fun.
"Poor Jeb. I haven't seen him this flummoxed since Lawton Chiles declared 'The old he-coon walks just before the light of day,' during their 1994 gubernatorial debate. He still hasn't figured it out yet.
"He's been talking about me for several minutes now and has yet to mention one word about my career in the Senate or at State. You'd think I was getting this award for my work as a Walmart greeter.
"Did he just kick the plaque across the floor to me? Geez, I know Jeb would rather be bobbing for apples with Rand Paul down at the Villages, but this is ridiculous. I think if I get the chance and get past the retired Navy SEAL Team 6 bodyguards, the barbed wire between us and the trap door in the middle of the stage, not only am I going to give Jeb a warm hug, but a big sloppy kiss on the cheek, too. By the time I get done with him, Glenn Beck will be pushing the conspiracy theory that Rachel Maddow is Jeb's love child.
"This won't be easy. Jeb is avoiding me like Ted Kennedy bobbing and weaving away from a panting Jimmy Carter at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Wait. Did Jeb just put on a fake Groucho Marx mustache? Just for that, I'm going to try to leap into his arms and stroke his hair.
"What is it with these people? I've pounded down shots of hooch with John McCain and no one ever accused him of being a tool of Havana. But these days if a Republican exhibits so much as an iota of civility toward a Democrat they run the risk of being shunned with Hester's A for apostasy.
"Has it dawned on Jeb that if he runs for president he's going to have to talk tough about standing up to Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad, the crazies in North Korea and the rest of the world's despots, dictators and assorted thugs? But he can't risk the political damage to his electoral ambitions to have a photo taken with me? Now there's a profile in porridge for you."
As things turned out, Jeb Bush successfully avoided the black-spot photo-op with Hillary Clinton. He must as been well pleased with himself, thinking perhaps: "Mission accomplished."