Much of my concern over the chaos in Washington, and many of these posts, have been focused on the words and actions of Donald Trump. Vice President Mike Pence has largely escaped the wrath of these writings. This is not particularly surprising given that, in general, the President sucks up so much oxygen that everything else is starved for air. His policies and pronouncements have been so wildly erratic that they deserve continued commentary and critique. But the public discourse is ill-served if the Vice President is completely left out of the equation.
In my previous post, I asked readers to consider their stance on impeachment. In the comments section that followed, my friend Bob Kent responded that he was not supportive of impeachment and gave, as one of his reasons, this succinct point: “If we win, we lose; we get Pence.” Indeed.
And while he has been largely eclipsed by the dominance of his boss, the Vice President has not remained totally invisible, albeit in a less than flattering light. Building on his long history of hostility to the LGBTQ community when he was Governor of Indiana, we can add Pence’s sycophantic adulation of the President in cabinet meetings, press conferences and other public forums, deeply unsettling questions about his lying to the American people about Michael Flynn and his robotic silence during the televised confrontation between Donald Trump, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
Such appearances cannot be dismissed solely on stylistic grounds, nor should they be relegated to his being out of the loop or his tendency for public awkwardness. There are substantive conversations to have about Pence’s fitness for the office of Vice President. This question was brought into stark relief this week as sixteen people died—four of them Americans—in an attack in Syria to which the Islamic State laid claim. The incident occurred weeks after Donald Trump announced that ISIS had been defeated in Syria.
Incredibly, after being briefed on this deadly attack, Pence stated in comments at the US State Department: “Thanks to the leadership of this commander in chief and the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces…the caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.”
And the Vice President’s office issued a statement (partially amended a day later) that said “President Trump and I condemn the terrorist attack in Syria that claimed American lives and our hearts are with the loved ones of the fallen…We have crushed the ISIS caliphate and devastated its capabilities.” Such a contradiction within a single statement is absurd on its face. Has the caliphate crumbled? Is ISIS defeated? Why, then, the continuing terror and death? Who says such things on the same day when Americans are killed by the very force over which you claim victory?
It is more than a little disquieting to know this is the man who is but a heartbeat away from the Presidency. So, while I continue to support the need for every American to consider the topic of President Trump’s impeachment, I concur with my friend, Bob Kent, that if we lose Trump, we get Pence and hence it is a double loss. Perhaps we should advocate for a dual resignation a la Nixon and Agnew. In such a world, Nancy Pelosi would be President.
Now that is something I could support.