September 6, 2019


Mike Pence will get nothing for his humiliation (Windsor Mann, September 6, 2019, The Week)

If you enter the Trump administration with dignity, you're unlikely to leave with it. Pence is no exception. At a December 2017 Cabinet meeting, Pence praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes straight. At a Cabinet meeting four months earlier, he said, "The greatest privilege of my life is to serve as vice president to the president who's keeping his word to the American people." Being his wife's husband and his children's father are a close second and third, presumably.

What is the point of Mike Pence? As vice president, he serves no purpose other than to inflate Trump's ego and bank account.

Trump toadyism gets you temporary power, and perhaps a Fox News gig, but at the cost of everlasting ignominy. Trump's lackeys know this and fear its repercussions. Rudy Giuliani is worried that his tombstone will say, "He lied for Trump." This would make a suitable epitaph for everyone in Trump's orbit.

Pence's political future is bleak. Unless Trump resigns, dies, or is impeached in the next year, he is never going to be president. Trump selected him in 2016 to shore up support among religious conservatives. Mission accomplished. Three years into his presidency, evangelicals are smitten with the twice-divorced serial adulterer who occupies the Oval Office.

No one is smitten with Pence. Liberals deplore his anti-gay agenda. Anti-Trump conservatives abhor his obsequiousness and hypocrisy. Trump supporters view him as a holdover from the pre-Trump era, a token of the GOP establishment, and also a very boring guy. Pence has described himself as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf." Nothing could be more accurate or less inspiring.

Lackey in chief (Neil J. Young, September 6, 2019, The Week)

With Pence, Trump may have never imagined how good a lackey he would get from his second in command. Trump selected Pence as his running mate in 2016 to help shore up his support among white evangelicals in the election, a move that looked particularly prudent when the "Access Hollywood" tapes revealing Trump bragging about sexual assault broke in the final weeks of the campaign. Pence reportedly considered dropping from the ticket, but it seems likely that those rumors were little more than an effort to burnish his pious reputation. When the Stormy Daniels news came to light in early 2018, Pence dutifully furrowed his brows and reprimanded the press for entertaining the "baseless allegations." The journalists asking such questions were the real perverts, Pence suggested, not the president who had conducted an affair with a porn star who he later paid off.

Aside from providing moral -- or at least, political -- cover to Trump's ongoing unsavory conduct, Pence's habit of excessively praising the president and his creepy tendency to look at Trump adoringly has become legendary. His continual stroking of the world's most fragile ego demonstrates Pence knows exactly what he must do to keep Trump on his side, something vital for the vice president's own political ambitions.

That may not be enough, though. Given how petty and disloyal Trump is, Pence can never be too sure about where he sits with the president. Earlier this summer, Trump refused to say whether he would endorse Pence's own presidential run in 2024, part of the routine cat-and-mouse game Trump revels in playing with those close to him but an especially bruising insult to someone who has proved so obsequious. Pence also has to be aware of the frequent speculation that he won't be chosen again for Trump's re-election campaign in 2020.

That's where Pence's lavish spending on Trump's properties comes in. Far more than providing political cover or offering constant flattery, Pence stands to gain the most with Trump by continuing to put money in the president's wallet. This is a presidency for sale, after all, and those around Trump understand both what it can buy them and the price of not playing Trump's game.

Posted by at September 6, 2019 7:10 AM