Trump’s true values, on display again.
I have a hard time watching the pairing of Donald Trump and Mike Pence and not thinking of other classic comedy acts – Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis…
Pence often plays the straight man to Trump’s bumbling comedy routine, only, nobody is laughing.
For leftists, it’s quite the conundrum. They’d love nothing more than to see Trump impeached, or taken out by the 25th Amendment. However, with Trump gone, they get President Pence, and his preference for his wife’s company, closeness to conservative groups, and professed Christianity is just too horrifying to fathom, as suggested in a piece today from The New Yorker, titled “The Danger of President Pence.”
In a lengthy piece, the writer gives the background on Pence, culminating in a tale of a governor who flip-flopped on many ideological issues, and was faced with a 50-50 chance of losing a reelection bid in the race for the Indiana governorship, two kids in college, two student loans, and only around $15,000 in the bank.
Pence was not a wealthy man, and the writer points out that for that reason alone, Trump was ready to pass him over.
He wasn’t Trump’s first choice. That distinction belonged to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Trump called him and asked him if he was ready, which, if anybody saw Christie’s traveling toady act, you know what his answer was.
Trump told him he’d be making his decision the next day, so to wait by his phone.
The call never came and Pence was named, some believe because of the urging of Ivanka and Jared Kushner. Some reports were that Trump even tried to find a way to back out of naming Pence, but that he was told Pence had the “look” of a Vice President, so he had to choose him.
Pence gambled on joining the Trump ticket, even as it seems they are as far apart, ideologically, as could be.
Still, Pence has done his part to play the obedient second in the team, and as the piece from The New Yorker notes, it’s a good thing, because Trump likes to let Pence know “who’s boss.”
“Trump thinks Pence is great,” Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
This is where I remind you that the Values Voter Summit invited President Trump (along with Seb Gorka and Steve Bannon) to speak at their event this past weekend.
The article delves into a lot of territory, including how Chris Christie was cut out of the transition team.
When Michael Flynn walked into a transition meeting, followed by General Keith Kellogg, Christie, who had already warned Trump that Flynn had some questionable baggage that might make him a liability, was taken aback.
Ivanka Trump quickly spoke up, announcing that she’d invited them (without letting Christie know), and greeted Flynn like a hero, gushing over his loyalty to her father. She then asked him what job he would like. Eric Trump suggested him to be the head of the Pentagon, but he was willing to settle for national security adviser.
Christie was ousted, soon after, and Pence was put in charge of the transition team.
Notably, Pence had no objections to Flynn, even after warnings from Christie and congressional Democrats.
It undoubtedly would have cost Pence to take a political stand against the worst instincts of Trump and his family. But had Pence stopped Flynn’s appointment Trump might not have become the object of a sprawling special investigation. Phil Sharp, the former Indiana representative, said, “There’s a leadership test here. There are real issues, and a failure to do something he was legally, ethically, and politically responsible for.” Sharp added, “It also failed the basic Washington litmus test of self-preservation.”
Whether Pence be a lackey, or a legitimate threat to Trump, it’s clear that whatever principles may have helped him get this far, he’s traded them off for a seat on the Trump train and a chance to be close to power.