All this speculation about a veep for Hillary, Barack, or John has got me thinking about one of my favorite subjects: the sidekick. The sidekick has always been an important literary and/or dramatic figure. The sidekick tells the hero’s story or serves as the foil so that the hero can show off (“What’re we going to do now, Roy?” “Elementary, my dear Watson.”).
Turns out there are actually three types of sidekicks. The most populated category is the sidekick who is an “inferior” (please note the quotes) social, racial, or cultural specimen. I call this category the Tonto. The job of the Tonto is to scout around, fetch food and water, hold the horses, occasionally get beat up, and to ask the right questions. A smaller category is the Watson, a sidekick who is the social and ethnic equal of the hero, but who is kind of a dim bulb. Pat Buttram for Gene Autrey, Gabby Hayes for Roy Rogers, Watson for Holmes. Finally, there is the smallest category of all, the Jeeves, usually used in comic situations. This sidekick is the social inferior of the hero, but the intellectual or moral superior. It’s so small that I can think of only two people: Jeeves and Sancho Panza.
In our pc times, the first type of sidekick is disappearing. Instead, we get the buddy system, in which two ethnically diverse types find common ground. Riggs and Murtaugh, Jackie Chan and Chris Rock. It all started with Starsky and Hutch, don’cha know.
So, what is our new veep going to be? Keeping in mind that we have to “balance the ticket,” I think I’ll have to propose a new category: the shadow. It’s a sidekick whose job is to stand around and support the president until the president either 1) kicks off, 2) serves eight years and then gets out of the way, or 3) has to resign. Given the fact that any politician has a brass-bound super-sized ego, this is a hard role to fill.