Whither Mike Pence

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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40 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Somewhat tangential. I know R’s are furious at the continuing investigation and all the bad publicity. But have they never heard of the Streisand Effect. The Trump admin and apologists run around constantly talking about it then get in a snit that there is all the talk about it. Sure it would be in a the news a bit and the revelations about all the various weasels and corruption in the orbit Trump would be in the news. But the trumpers heavily contribute to all the coverage by their, no doubt completely high minded and the most honest thing that was ever honest, incessant calls to end the investigation. I certainly recognize admins and apologists will take on the character of their leader so shutting up isn’t in their vocabulary and will even be seen as weakness. I’m not even someone who thinks the worst will be proven about Trump and his official defenders all serve to make me question that.

    Criminy people think. If one of the big concerns is obstruction of justice stop trying to pressure the investigation to go away. This of course doesn’t apply to very likely guilty and deeply unwise people.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    From where I sit Theoretical President Pence offers the following significant changes (and at least one significant continuity) from Actual President Trump —

    1. Substantially more restraint and decorum in fulfillment of the President’s role as chief cultural signaller and chief diplomat.

    2. Reduced enthusiasm for tariffs, trade wars, and protectionism.

    3. Functionally the same sorts of judicial appointments (mostly competent, all very conservative).

    4. Cabinet appointments who are less openly hostile to the very existence of the agencies they are supposed to administer.

    5. Less overt corruption and veracity deficiencies.

    6. No one is going to coalesce into a dangerous and irrational national cult of personality centered around Mike Pence.

    Trump is so uniquely awful in these respects that nearly any other generic Republican would be a significant improvement. And, I’ve heard whisper that Pence is kind of not-very-smart and not-very-politically-deft. But really, would we be any worse off in that respect if he took over than we are right now?

    At this point in my life and our nation’s history, I’d much prefer basically any Democrat in the White House, but given what’s realistically on the palette of options, I’d much rather have Pence than Trump.

    And I’d rather have to endure the rest of Trump’s (preferably single-term) Administration than get Pence (or anyone else) in the top office through something other than a lawful, peaceful means.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Burt Likko: But really, would we be any worse off in that respect if he took over than we are right now?

      Yes.

      Incompetence, apathy, and adult ADD are actually the things staving off the Trump administration from being an unalloyed horror.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Pence was looking at the probable end of his political career as an unpopular governor in Indiana when he accepted the VP slot on Trump’s ticket. Then, Trump won. Now, Trump may be forced out (and I don’t discount the chance that Trump will just die, or have his health deteriorate to the point that he resigns) leaving Pence as an incumbent going into the 2020 election cycle. Jackpot against long odds?Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain
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      says:

      Jackpot against long odds?

      Not that long.

      All Pence has to do is NOT step into the Trumpian slime pit & NOT join the dumpster fire, and he’ll look really good. Currently he can’t oppose Trump, he could be fired, and anyone throwing shit at Trump quickly finds out Trump is MUCH better at this sort of thing than anyone else.

      So Pence’s winning move is to do… nothing. Stand back, do nothing (and do nothing, and continue to do nothing) and wait for the dumpster fire to consume everyone and everything.

      Constitution says he’s the replacement. That’s the winning play.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Dark Matter
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        says:

        Everyone since June 2015 that has bought political put options on the inevitable Trump self implosion has gone politically bankrupt.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          Everyone since June 2015 that has bought political put options on the inevitable Trump self implosion has gone politically bankrupt.

          He’s been two weeks away from total self destruction… for the last 40+ years. Almost like it’s an act and/or he likes Trolling.

          Having said that, Trump is the only one who is able to emerge unscared from Trump’s dumpster fire and Pence’s winning move is STILL to just wait.

          IMHO the odds of Trump dying (which aren’t very high but he’s pretty old and will be in there another 6 years) are better than the odds of him being impeached and MUCH better than the odds of him willingly stepping down.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter
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            says:

            No he hasn’t been 2 weeks from self destruction for his entire adult life. He was top of the heap in Atlantic City and in many ways the real estate world in NY. His collapse was noticeable and enjoyed by many at the time. His bankruptcies and failure in AC was in all the papers and widely talked about. Trump really did not like that. He went from being a big wheel to a to figurehead. It was a very real fall.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          I’m not sure any person has left the Trump orbit, since he took office, in any way better off. Everyone working for, or nominated by, Trump has ended up being a hell of a lot worse off by the time they limped away..

          I don’t expect Pence to be the exemption.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            I think that’s likely true… Ford lost to Carter in his only [Presidential] election… and here’s the bizarro-world map to prove it.

            But if you look at it from Pence’s view… what exactly are his plays assuming:
            1. Trump is Impeached
            2. Trump runs in 2020
            2.a. Pence leads a Primary Coup in 2020
            3. Pence runs in 2024 after Trump wins 2020

            In each scenario his best move, as Dark notes, is to just do the VP thing… to either a) become President due to impeachment {he could opportunistically turn on Trump with a Senate coalition – but even then, silence still might be golden} b) remain on the VP ticket to Trump in 2020 (else retire), 2-b) Lead the establishment Coup against Trump, or c) Campaign for President in 2024 and if we assume Trump won in 2020… what’s his motivation for abandoning a 2-term president?

            I suppose he could call Al Gore for tips on that one.

            Still, even in those (and other scenarios), I’d have to say his most likely path to the Presidency is via Impeachment.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Marchmaine
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              says:

              There’s some alternate universe where, after the Democrats win the House and take office on January 3, 2019, Mike Pence, a week or so later (Depending on how long he thinks impeachment will take) marches down there with all the recording of criminal activities he made during the campaign and everything else, and demands ‘immunity’ from impeachment to hand them over.

              Because, and I bet Pence knows this and is counting the day, even in this universe: As long as Trump is impeached _after_ noon January 20, 2019, Pence can run for two more full terms. He can be a slightly-less-than-ten-years president.

              A ‘Don’t Miss’ in this alternate universe: Pence presiding over Trump’s Removal in the Senate.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure, I’d pay good money to watch that.

                I’d even pay for the extended director’s cut where congress realizes there’s no such thing as an “Impeachment Immunity Card” and cashiers Pence as well… just because they can.

                I’m not sure I’m ready for the VR edition where fan reactions (colloquially known as Riots) are captured “as if you were there.”Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s some alternate universe where, after the Democrats win the House and take office on January 3, 2019, Mike Pence, a week or so later (Depending on how long he thinks impeachment will take) marches down there with all the recording of criminal activities he made during the campaign…

                :Gack: Pence would/should/did make it his business to be FAR away from that aspect of the Trump campaign, if it existed. There are no recordings.

                For that matter Trump would have made it his business to avoid that aspect too. This is what Red Shirts are for.

                Checking wiki… Pence is a lawyer. My expectation is he fully obeyed the Directive #0 (one above the Prime Directive) and didn’t do anything which could strip him of his law license. Directive #0 is one of the reasons why Pence is taking a hands-off approach towards the inner workings of the Trump WH.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                :Gack: Pence would/should/did make it his business to be FAR away from that aspect of the Trump campaign, if it existed. There are no recordings.

                I agree with ‘should’, but I have absolutely no idea how intelligent Pence is. He’s done some stuff that I think was really dumb, but it could also be read as manipulation plans that _failed_.

                But I’m pretty sure this scenario isn’t going to happen in this universe because Pence vocally sucking up to the President makes very little sense if this was his plan. (It’s not like he can be fired.)

                For that matter Trump would have made it his business to avoid that aspect too. This is what Red Shirts are for.

                Red Shirts only work if they are personally loyal.

                …and also if they don’t idiotically record all their phone conversations. Looking at you, Michael Cohen.

                Checking wiki… Pence is a lawyer. My expectation is he fully obeyed the Directive #0 (one above the Prime Directive) and didn’t do anything which could strip him of his law license. Directive #0 is one of the reasons why Pence is taking a hands-off approach towards the inner workings of the Trump WH.

                Possibly.

                I haven’t done enough research to figure out if Pence is a lawyer, or a ‘lawyer’. I.e., whether he’s a lawyer who starts looking around panicked for an exit when people start discussing ways to lie to the court in front of him, or if he’s a ‘lawyer’ who is coming up with those ways. One of those lawyers who tells his client not to talk to the press, or one of those ‘lawyers’ who goes on press junkets himself.

                And before anyone thinks I’m dissing Pence, I’m not kidding, I really have no idea which sort of lawyer he is. I’m just saying we’ve had a parade of non-lawyery lawyers wandering around, so I’m not really sure we should assume they all will be politely excusing themselves from the room because ‘I can’t hear this’. Michael Cohen sure as hell didn’t. Giuliani not only has the aforementioned press jucket nonsense, but also is apparently on the phone with FBI agents about Hillary Clinton emails.

                And not just from the Trump side…Michael Avenatti is doing some pretty dubious lawyer things, (Like how he got those financial records) but OTOH, I’m not sure his client actually wants to ‘win’ her lawsuit.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    I largely agree with Burt’s analysis. The multi million dollar question is whether Pence is different on immigration. Pence is deeply right-wing. He praised Joe Apario which shows he likes the troll liberal faction of the GOP.

    But ICE under Trump has become a jackbooted
    group of thugs with absolute contempt for law. And Trump still let loose a bunch of invective on the head for not being fascist and jack booted enough.

    Can Pence be as thuggish on immigration as Trump? I think so. Anti-immigrant mania was a big thing in 2012 with Romney discussing self-deportation?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      San Francisco had the toughest immigration judge in the United States. He had a 97% denial rate on asylum cases. I’ve never appeared before him but immigration lawyers called in the area called him the smiling assassin because he was always very calm, polite, and friendly in court while other really anti-immigration judges tended to be raging a-holes like the one in Atlanta who turns his back on immigrants when they testify. I imagine that Pence would be like the smiling assassin. His immigration policy would be no different than Trump’s immigration policy. However, there would be very little of the culture war red meat blood feast.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Who is anti-immigration? Most all of our families were immigrants. They just didn’t come here illegally, demanding free stuff.

      As for political asylum, very few from south of the border would meet the Obama Administration’s criteria of being targeted by their own government.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Who is anti-immigration? Most all of our families were immigrants. They just didn’t come here illegally, demanding free stuff.

        Yes they did. They came without the consent of the original inhabitants, and came demanding free landReport

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to George Turner
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        says:

        Who is anti-immigration?

        Uh, the Trump administration, which has tried to scale back legal immigration.

        https://www.cato.org/blog/white-house-plan-bans-22-million-legal-immigrants-over-5-decades

        As for political asylum, very few from south of the border would meet the Obama Administration’s criteria of being targeted by their own government.

        Under both international and US law about asylum seekers, either the government must be doing the percecution or be unable to stop the percecution.

        I am not sure if 1) you are arguing that the US government under Obama was not following the second half of that ‘or’, or 2) you are arguing that the current people seeking asylum do not fit under one of those categories, but as far as I know, both those would be wrong.

        I can’t follow how you think #1 would be correct. There’s actually a few ways that Obama expand that the ‘government not stopping it’, in fact. He expanded it to domestic abuse, for one, which caused some outcry that he was misusing the system. (Which he sorta was.)

        But #2 is odd if we look at it for a second. Guatemala is, from the outside, a failed state. The government does not have control of basically half of it, and hence is literally unable to do any thing about any violence at all.

        But, just being the target of violence doesn’t mean someone can get asylum. They have to be targetted because of ‘race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’.

        That’s _not_ what you seem to think have objected to, but maybe that’s a valid complaint about Guatemalans refugees. The entire population of a failed state is at risk, but are they at risk because of ‘who they are’? Because that’s the only way they get asylum.

        But, wait, let’s check something.

        If the government _mysteriously_ lets murderous armed gangs rampage wildly through areas that just happened to be full of a particular race (Indigenous Guatemalans, aka, Mayans.) and political leaning (left-wing as opposed to the right-wing government.), should we just assume that has nothing to do with race or political option? Maybe.

        What if we were to reading some history books and learn that from 5 decades ago to 2 decades ago, the government repeatedly savaged burned to the ground and killed huge amount of people in those areas in the Guatemalan Civil War, precisely due to who was there? Yeah…that’s looking a bit more suspicious.

        What if we then notice that a lot of these armed gangs are, in fact, made up of previous members of the government, still doing exactly the same thing they used to do _for_ the government? That is…about as supicious as can be.

        It seems clear that in the _best interpetation_ of what is going on the Guatemalan government has given up on parts of Guatemala simply because it doesn’t like who the people there are, and thus is ignoring violence to happen to them because of who they are. Which, tada, is a valid reason for asylum. (And the worse interpretation is that a lot of this is happening with tacit approval of the government.)Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Kurt Anderson, in his book Fantasyland, noted that before Trump all Presidents tended to cast themselves in the mold of George Washington regardless of their policies. Even somebody really bad like Nixon knew that they couldn’t engage in too much disparaging of Americans that did not vote for him regardless of what he actual thought on the subject. Being President meant that you had to carry yourself with a certain amount of Roman-like decorum and dignity in public. Trump really doesn’t get that. He has no problems laying on the red meat. Pence might be an ultra-conservative and his policies would not be too dissimilar to Trump’s policies but he has the President needs to behave a certain way mentality.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Dwyer
    Ignored
    says:

    It appears to me that the Left is focusing more on Pence than previously, just because they perhaps want to hit the GOP with a 1-2 punch on impeachment. The MSM is certainly assisting in the last week as well. With all that said, is it too early to hope someone other than Pelosi gets the Speaker slot, since they could conceivably be our President.

    Realistically though. I can’t predict this stuff. I can’t see how Trump survives 2.5 more years, but I also never predicted him as President.Report

    • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      His survival is a mathmatical equation. He isn’t resigning, so you either have 67 votes in the Senate to convict or you don’t. Till then they can impeach him all they want and he will still be president. Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      It seems like it would be more in the interest of Democrats that Trump survives 2.5 more years. The Fresh Pence of Hot Air would probably be somewhat more circumspect and could undo some of the damage of an impeached President. I think they’d be better off to let Trump ride a bit longer.Report

      • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        Probably. If they shoot for impeachment and don’t get it the parrelel is look what happens to the Republican Congress that spent a year with Clinton impeachment. Plus with Trumps die hards anything short of conviction will be tantamount to absolution and they’ll make a walking martyr of him. But if Dems get the house I don’t think they will be able to restrain from it.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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          says:

          With Trump diehards a conviction will prove, even more, that he is pure and a martyr. I think if Pelosi is the D leader she will be able to focus most of the D’s into subpoenas and investigations. Depending what Mueller and any congressional investigations find impeachment may become more plausible.Report

          • Avatar pillsy in reply to greginak
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            says:

            I think this is correct, but I also think that aggressive oversight (which will happen if the Dems get a one vote majority in either the Senate or the House) is an existential threat to the Trump Administration. They’re too dumb and too guilty to weather it without taking serious damage.Report

        • You’ve hit on what I’ve been thinking for several months now is the key danger with impeachment, not getting a conviction would be disastrous. Even if the Senate has 67+ Democrats (unlikely, I imagine) there’s no guarantee they or even theoretical anti-Trump Republicans will vote to convict. All that might change if the investigation is really damning (or if it turns out my amateur political analysis isn’t all I crack it up to be….a distinct possibility).Report

          • People are focusing on the House in the midterms, but its impossible for Dems to get the Senate votes they need to convict if impeachment occurs w/o bipartisan support. They are going to have to get R help to do so, and unless some really iron-clad stuff comes out or Trump does something so out there as to dent his own parties desire to not have him saddled with him for eternity, it’s just not going to happen. Remember to the timing here, IF they take the house and not the senate, the impeachment proceedings could easily run into the start of the 2020 election cycle. Trump will be running as the persecuted martyr, congress sucks all the oxygen from whoever is running against him, and you cant convict him even if you do impeach so he’s going to claim victory no matter what as he will still be in office…what a circus that would be.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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          says:

          I think the Democrats are smart enough to realize they don’t have the math to impeach.Report

          • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Saul Degraw
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            says:

            a few do, problem they are going to have is reeling in the progressive left and their big money people. A lot of loud voices with deep pockets and plenty of influence are going to be demanding it, regardless of strategic situation.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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              says:

              Fortunately the Dems have not so far been shown to be that beholden to their wingnuts or their more extreme financiers. I doubt Pelosi will do much more than pay lip service to it if she gets the Speaker gavel again unless Mueller actually unearths something that makes the GOP break ranks or Trump starts shooting people off the White House porch. And I very much doubt that anyone to her left would or could raise much of an insurrection on the matter. “We don’t have 67 votes in the Senate.” Is a really hard argument to beat. The Fox news/Right Wing talk radio/Primary from the fringe side system simply doesn’t have a left wing counterpart so far.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to North
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                says:

                I’m not convinced by that argument.

                There is something to be said for drawing a line in the sand and saying This Is Unacceptable, even if you lose.

                Bringing to light the crimes and corruption, even without the votes to convict, forces everyone in Washington to lay down a marker and choose a side and publicly state their principles.
                Not pursuing it allows everyone to equivocate and wash their hands of it all.

                And I notice the endless votes to repeal Obamacare didn’t hurt their side, the endless votes for abortion restrictions even when they weren’t in power didn’t hurt them.

                I can live with the history books documenting his crimes and saying, “Back in 2019 the Democrats wanted to impeach him, but were blocked by the Republicans”.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                The endless votes to repeal the ACA rotted out their brains and they were so degraded as a policy shop that they could barely get a fishing tax cut done qith both houses of congress and the White house.

                As for impeaching, it depends on what the alleged issue is. If they try endless votes based only on what theu have now i am dubious it will work out for the dems. It didn’t work for the GOP in the 90s.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to North
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                says:

                I just keep coming back to if it didn’t work out for the GOP in the 90s, how much more war and debt we would have if it *did* work out.

                It’s all well and good (and true) to say that Congress is dysfunctional, but that’s not where the most of the action is. Trump is doing his replacement level Republican best to build a young conservative judiciary, and possibly a value over replacement on the adminstrative/regulatory executive side.

                Whatever the tack tix and strategery of the GOP in the recent or more distance past, the fact of the matter is that Jared Kushner is right now in Jerusalem, along with a preacher that wears his eschatology on his sleeve.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Kolohe
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                says:

                Depends on what you define the goal of the GOP to be. If it’s to advance Conservative (or Libertarian or Social Conservative) principles or policies it’s been a titanic failure. If it’s to get larger numbers of GOP politicians into elected office then it’s been successful at times though each success seems to get followed by an increasingly powerful reversal.

                Though I’ll grant you they have succeeded in peddling a lot of war and run up a lot of debt.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Andrew Donaldson
          Ignored
          says:

          Andrew Donaldson: Probably. If they shoot for impeachment and don’t get it the parrelel is look what happens to the Republican Congress that spent a year with Clinton impeachment

          They maintained their majority in Congress. Then the GOP won the White House despite peace and prosperity literally unparalleled in US history.

          Andrew Johnson’s failed impeachment also wound up working well for the radical republicans that pushed it.Report

          • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Kolohe
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            says:

            They lost all momentum to do. anything after some impressive bipartisan achievements, then lost ground in subsequent elections until their majority all together in 06. It caught up to them. Johnson’s is interesting but such unique circumstances it’s really it’s own thing.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      the Left is focusing more on Pence than previously, just because they perhaps want to hit the GOP with a 1-2 punch on impeachment.

      Serious error for two reasons.

      First, if it looks like it might work, then Pence Steps down before Trump and Trump appoints a new, unelected VP before he, himself, is removed. His wife can’t serve but his daughter and son-in-law could.

      2nd, lowering the bar enough to get Pence will be seen (correctly imho) as the new normal.Report

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