17 October 2017

The Danger

The newest issue of The New Yorker, which hit newsstands yesterday, contains a comprehensive article by the award-winning investigative journalist Jane Mayer (link here) with the title "The Danger of President Pence." The piece, it almost goes without saying, is about current Vice President Michael Pence and both profiles him and also speculates what he would be like as President if Donald Trump does not complete his term.

The article makes quite clear that Trump is contemptuous of his vice president, even though the two get along decently and Pence is a loyal cheerleader. This short excerpt is particularly telling:

"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 both reveals Trump's woefully hypocrisy on social issues and Pence's masochistic streak that he will just sit there like a loyal toadie while he is openly mocked. Trump pretends to be conservative, but this glimpse behind the curtain reveals he's clearly not.

It also exposes the fact that he picked Pence simply to pander to religious conservatives. Trump makes no effort to hide that this makes him a shameless demagogue -- pretending to be pious onstage but is actually profane offstage.

The article also nicely documents how incredibly incompetent Pence was as governor. Had Trump not picked him to be his vice president, Pence almost certainly would have been defeated when he ran for re-election in 2016.

Because the succession is established by the U.S. Constitution, Pence would become President if Trump is unable to complete his term. The only way to prevent that would be if Pence left office before Trump, as happened when Spiro Agnew resigned before Richard Nixon resigned.

Like many, I do not look forward to a President Pence. However, arguably he would not be quite as bad as Trump. On social policy, there would be little difference between the two administrations, but Pence does not seem to be mentally ill and unstable as Trump appears to be.

In the best of all worlds, given how Special Counsel Robert Mueller's criminal investigation of the President is playing out, hopefully Trump will hang on until about the end of the second year of his term, then he would be replaced by Pence, who would serve about two years.

Both would effectively be lame ducks and achieve little. They would then be replaced by a progressive Democrat in the 2020 election.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak up!