GOP Exit Strategy: The Case for President Pence

Tracy Downey

I'm just a simple story maker longing to make the world a better place, while butterflies dance inside my head.

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  1. Saul Degraw says:

    As pointed out the other day and in the media, there is plenty of reason to think that Mitt Romney is all talk and no action a la Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse. I can’t really blame him because a large section of the media falls for this schtick hook, line, and sinker.

    The elephant in the room is that Trump is very popular with the GOP voting base/party identifiers. According to this article, Trump’s popularity is 39 percent overall but 88 percent among Republicans:

    There might be plenty of GOP politicians and elites that semi-secretly realize that Donald Trump is a dumpster fire that could ruin them in the electorate short-term and possibly long-term but they also know that their voters really love Donald Trump and are too afraid to go against him. A lot of others might agree with him on his worst policies but just wishes he was a less of a blunt instrument.

    And as you note, a lot of conservatives (especially younger ones) seem to see “owning the libs” as their raison d’etre. One of Vox’s writers had a good thread on twitter about this in the fall when Jacob Wohl’s latest stunt feel flat and blew up in his face. Younger conservatives grew up entirely in the Fox News/4chan bubble where they get rewarded for whacky stunts, not punished for them. The long con is all they know.

    I’m Democratic and partisan but the big issue with #NeverTrump Republicans is that there are not that many of them. Those that exist have no influence in the GOP anymore and are reduced to asking Democrats to being more conservative than they are. This pisses off Democrats because it comes across as concern trolling.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Yep. Ditching Trump for Pence is a non-starter because it’d infuriate the base (thereby killing the careers of most Republicans foolish enough to vote for it, ensuring a thorough primary attacked which, if survived, would lead to a general election run with tepid base turnout at best — and the GOP depends on their generally solid turnout).

      Secondly, of course, is that Pence is not exactly a super-charismatic candidate, is tainted by mere association with Trump in the eyes of the non-base (assuming the man handpicked by Manafort, head of the transition team, and personal backer of Flynn even after being warned by the DoJ is only tainted by mere association), and frankly is a terrible politician.

      He didn’t leave his Governor’s slot for the VP slot on what you’d call a high note.(Seriously, his last years as Governor showed an uncanny knack to jump on a hot button issue right after it had been shown to be a political loser.) I mean compared to Trump he’s practically JFK, but he’d step into the President’s shoes under an aura of intense skepticism by both sides, and the man seems built to scare the mushy middle almost as bad as Trump, if in a totally different way.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    Look at how AOC causes conservatives to shit in their pants:

    This is a “non-scandal” that conservatives are trying to blow up to “own the libs.” They are in Trump’s pocket.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Its an entire teenager acts like a teenager scandal.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Re: “The Clueless Nitwit” tweet… I spend a lot of time on the twitters and I didn’t see a single person (other than the original QAnon tweet) actually criticize AOC for that. Like, not even one.

      I mean, AOC’s “likability” is off the freaking charts. That dancing video only enhances it. To the point where if it came out that AOC’s people were behind the video being released, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

      I have seen dozens of tweets explaining that the republicans think that this video will harm AOC are sorely mistaken, though. Dozens explaining that republicans need to stop attacking AOC with these kinds of attacks.

      I just haven’t seen any attacks on AOC for the video.

      Anyway, AOC is already proving to be exceptionally effective. Check this out:

      Progressives gained some important ground negotiating around yesterday’s rules package.One was that @SpeakerPelosi has agreed to seat *every* House committee with 40% Progressive Caucus members.The other: @RepJayapal & @MarkPocan secured 1st-ever hearings on #MedicareForAll.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 4, 2019

      Republicans have no idea how to fight against her. She’s steamrolling them already. Hell, she’s pushing *PELOSI* around.

      She’s the Democrats’ Trump.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        The alleged scandal is about the dance, that she went to high school in Yorktown in Westchester County, and her high-school nickname was Sandy.

        The article I linked to has plenty of non QANON conservatives trying desperately to turn this into an outrage scandal.

        I’m not on twitter but I’ve seen lots of middle-aged men and not-middle aged male conservatives freak out about AOC on line. She seems to cause them to shit in their pants because of her age, popularity, refusal to play by their rules, challenges to their priors and cherished core beliefs, etc. She is a post-Reagan young person who rejects all the hard-ons that now old Americans had for Reagan in their youths.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Oh, there are a *TON* of people crapping their pants over AOC!

          They’re the only ones taking her seriously.

          But when it comes to the dance thing, I haven’t seen anyone attacking her for it (despite all of the mockery I’ve seen of the people who must be mocking her for it).

          As someone who lived in Mount Kisco between 1987 and 1990 (8th grade through 11th), lemme tell ya, you didn’t have to be upper class to go to a good public school in Westchester County.

          But Westchester County had *GOOD* schools. Seriously. If someone from the lower classes yelled at someone who went to the schools in my district for being “privileged”, they’d be right.

          Even if, like me, they lived in Mount Kisco rather than, say, Pound Ridge or Bedford Hills.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

            She’s got a response video to the GOP who find women dancing to be scandalous.

            Congresswomen dance too!Report

          • Jesse in reply to Jaybird says:

            “But when it comes to the dance thing, I haven’t seen anyone attacking her for it (despite all of the mockery I’ve seen of the people who must be mocking her for it).”

            Smart conservatives aren’t doing it, but I don’t doubt a lot of the liberals talking about “people attacking AOC” are talking about their Fox News addled older relatives reposting the dance video and saying something dumb about it or MAGAAmerica1954 saying dumb things about it in their Twitter timeline.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

              Well, so long as they’re talking about their addled relatives or a Russian Bot, I guess that’s okay.

              (I *DID* see a lot of people being horny on main about her. And complaining about people being horny on main about her.)Report

      • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I saw a few. Mostly because other liberals were signal-boosting them to dunk on the conservatives making the criticisms.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

        I just haven’t seen any attacks on AOC for the video.

        I’m of the suspicion she’s figured out how to play the right like the right keeps playing the left: Via the ‘outraged about made-up outrage’ machine.

        This is the reverse version of ‘The left is full of SJWs complaining about how this little girl chose to play with dolls’ or whatever nonsense they invent this week The fake look-how-the-left-is-outraged clickbait stories that the right passes around, which generally star exactly two random people on Tumblr as ‘the left’.

        And I think this is exactly the world she grew up in, and knows how it works, and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if she had something to do with it. I don’t mean she ‘faked’ any outrage, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she got that video out there, waited for the inevitable few idiots who actually were outraged, and waited for the response.

        And unlike when it goes the other direction (Where the ‘outrage’ is almost nothing at all from anyone actually important.)…enough of the right’s politicians and talking-heads are rather misogynist and old and conservative enough to actually have some level of genuine outrage and say stupid stuff about ‘young woman dancing’. It’s still blown way _way_ out of proportion, but there’s some actual real response there.

        And then actual smart people on the right have to waste time running around writing stuff like ‘Criticize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Socialist Policies, Not Her Extremely Likable Dance Video’:

        It’s almost genius, actually. She really should keep dancing (figuratively and literally) around in front of them and see what sort of dumbass reactions she can keep provoking from the bubble-living Republican politicians and media, and watch everyone else repeatedly pounce on them.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

          It’s almost genius, actually. She really should keep dancing (figuratively and literally) around in front of them and see what sort of dumbass reactions she can keep provoking from the bubble-living Republican politicians and media, and watch everyone else repeatedly pounce on them.

          If anything, I overagree. I think that it is genius. She’s brilliant at this.

          If I think that there’s a downside, it’s that she gets to be pointed to as an example of what “likable” is, what charismatic would be, and so on. The Republican leadership won’t know what hit them.

          I’m interested in seeing what the Democratic leadership will do in response. She could easily change the overton window for the party (indeed, she already *HAS*).Report

  3. Murali says:

    The question is how this is going to happen.

    There has never been a successful primary challenge of an incumbent. As Saul noted, the politics of impeachment on the republican side are dismal. Trump is hugely popular with the republican base (at least in part because the base is shrinking). A president Pence may be better for the GOP, but I don’t see a path forward to this in the near future.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Murali says:

      To be somewhat fair, a lot of things seem to be like Hemmingway’s description of bankruptcy, it happens little by little and then all at once.

      Richard Nixon retained a lot of support among Republican voters and Republican politicians to the bitter end. There are plausible scenarios where he completed his term albeit weakened. It took a long time for Republican Senators like Goldwater to tell Nixon that the gig was up and he needed to go.

      Of course, Nixon was a better politician despite or because of his paranoia. He was smart enough to know when the ship was truly sinking.Report

      • Jesse in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Yup, if you actually go back and read Letters to the Editor from 1970’s newspapers, there’s plenty of letters that you can do a find ‘n’ replace w/ Trump for Nixon and they’d sound like slightly edited versions of how Republican’s today sound while defending Trump.Report

    • North in reply to Murali says:

      Only way it happens is if Trump himself resigns or elects not to run. Considering that the presidency itself is all that’s protecting him from being indicted I’d say he probably won’t want to do that. Trump is the logical and richly deserved conclusion of the trajectory the GOP has been following my entire politically conscious life. Trump is the GOP and he is what they stand for and believe in.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    “Why should the GOP bite the bullet? Because it is the right thing to do. ”

    I think I spotted yer problem right there!Report

  5. Em Carpenter says:

    I’m not that much more enthusiastic about a President Pence, but at least there may be a shred of dignity in the halls of the White House if he took over.

    Great piece Tracy! Welcome.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    Let’s look at the shutdown:

    It is wildly unpopular. The polling shows most people blame Trump and the GOP and yet:

    Most Republicans in Congress, including those leaders who will also be in the meeting with the president, have backed the president, though there were signs of a fraying alliance as two vulnerable senators from Democratic-leaning states, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, expressed misgivings over their leaders’ intransigence. Mr. Gardner called on his party to end the shutdown, even if it meant not funding the wall, and Ms. Collins said she would support measures to fund the government in already approved appropriations bills.

    Collins and Gardner always fall in line though. This shutdown has been ginned up by right-wing media over the wall and the unrepentant reactionaries will not let up. They will always be angry and lash out.Report

    • This time might be different for Gardner and Collins. Gardner appears to be getting pretty desperate to find things he can vote for that he can point to when he has to campaign in in the Denver suburbs in 2020. The PAC that’s collecting money to defeat Collins is up to almost $3M, I believe. Collins might be ready to give it up (and is probably regretting that she didn’t run for governor last year), but Gardner is only 44 and may not be ready to retire to Yuma, CO where his wife and three kids still live.Report

  7. bookdragon says:

    I agree 100% with your assessment of Trump, but I do not want to see Pence elevated to POTUS. He’s VP because Manafort, Putin’s man, picked him. Maybe it was to draw evangelicals. Maybe it was because he knew Pence would play along with anything because he’s an opportunist with all the patriotism and moral courage of a damp sponge. But there is a non-negligible chance that Putin has some reason for wanting Pence a (Big Mac clogged) heartbeat away from the presidency.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    One thing I remember saying way back in 2016 was something to the effect of “Trump doesn’t scare me. It’s the guy who comes *AFTER* Trump that scares me.”

    I admit, at the time, I though that the guy who comes after Trump would be the Republican who comes after Trump.

    I wonder if the guy who comes after Trump is AOC.Report

  9. Dark Matter says:

    With indictments inevitable from the Special Counsel’s Office and the Southern District of New York…

    This is assuming what should be proven.

    At the moment the SCO has… illegal campaign contributions, which in normal situations isn’t even a criminal matter and which we’ve seen proven before. Worse, if we assume Trump cheats on his wife all the time and pays them off all the time then there isn’t even the hint of a case. My expectation is Stormy wasn’t the first and for Trump this was Tuesday.

    the Trump Administration’s turnover rate boasts of an astonishing, squalid body count, equated to a daunting inventory of foot soldiers, forsaken on a civil war battlefield.

    Yes, Trump’s 1st year and 2nd year turnover rates are terrible, they’re the 3rd and 4th highest rates we’ve seen recently.

    The 2nd worst was Reagan’s year 2 rate. The all time worst was Obama’s year 3 rate. Weirdly I don’t recall pundits being all alarmed then.

    Because of Republicans’ knockback to a match-striking, toddling man-child,

    “The man-child” was one of the GOP’s sayings about Obama. Something about him having a very thin resume.

    The importance of a well-measured commander in chief that weighs the consequences before taking our military into battle is crucial.

    As far as I can tell, Trump refusing to get more involved in Syria is the very definition of weighing the consequences. It’s a multi-factional mess, we don’t have clear goals much less a way to achieve them. The Russians, Iran, and Turkey can make life interesting for each other and they all hate ISIS.

    abandoning the Kurds

    We’re still in Iraq. If our goal is to create a country for the Kurds (by taking land from Turkey?) then that should be stated.

    The only reason Trump isn’t facing criminal indictments from the Southern District of New York is that a sitting U.S. president cannot be indicted.

    As far as I can tell, the only reason putting criminal indictments on Trump in New York is important enough to actually happen is because he’s President. If he were still Trump-the-real-estate-billionaire (or better yet, a Democratic President) then New York wouldn’t be doing this.

    In the court of public opinion and silent lucidity, elevating Vice President Mike Pence to the presidency is, yes, drastic for the Republican Party. For the sake of the country, and for maintaining the existence of conservative values, it is a quantifiable verdict.

    Translation: The Dems want the GOP to remove a GOP President who is popular with the GOP base but hated by the Dem base.

    In a democracy the voters are allowed to put in charge a guy who promises to shake things up. As unpleasant as that is, it’s what has happened. He ran on blowing up the establishment and taking a bulldozer to stuff, and he’s doing so.

    Subtract Trump being Trump, subtract Trump being GOP, and also subtract both sides do it. Then make your case. If the only thing you’ve got is he’s a vulgar evil anti-establishment nitwit then you have no case because he ran on all of that.

    You need to present something that would have force the Dems to impeach the Clintons.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Dark Matter says:

      At the moment the SCO has… illegal campaign contributions, which in normal situations isn’t even a criminal matter and which we’ve seen proven before.

      Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

      What Trump’s campaign did is not ‘accidentally accepting disallowed contributions’, which _all_ campaigns do and play small fines. (Actually, Trump did this also! Which is fine, and literally no one complained at the time, or even noticed.)

      What Trump’s campaign is…well, I would say ‘accused of’, but people have already plead guilty, so I will instead say ‘actually did’, is something else entirely. And it’s not just paying off Storm Daniels…there are pretty serious allegations that basically the entire National Enquirer was being operated to get Trump elected, with the active participation of Trump, including payments from him. Purchasing and killing stories about him, running stories about his opposition, etc.

      Which would be fine if it was just something they had chosen to do without any connection to Trump, but Trump and his money were deeply involved.

      _None_ of which was reported, and a lot of which was _actively hidden_ via cutouts and lawyers and shell companies.

      Likewise, the Storm Daniels payment was hidden away via shell companies and misleading payments to Cohen.

      This is not the same as the campaign sending a report in saying ‘Here is a list of all our donations for the last quarter’ and the FEC saying ‘These six people were actually over their contribution limit and thus you are being fined what they gave you, plus a penalty’.

      What you’re saying is basically ‘People commit traffic offenses all the time’ and using that to handwave away vehicular manslaughter.Report

  10. aaron david says:

    “Why should the GOP bite the bullet? Because it is the right thing to do. ”

    For whom?

    Everything else in this post is pure puff. Not even worth the digital ink. But this question deserves looking at a little closer. Why is it the right thing to do? Is there some moral authority that I should listen too? Who promoted this Moral Authority?

    The reality is there is no moral authority here, there is just partisanship. And partisanship without presenting solid facts; employment, economy, wars, civil rights, and so on, is cheap. Because in all those mentioned fields, Trump is doing much better than his predecessor. So we are left with moral scolds.

    When I joined the Democrats in the ’80s the main reason was responding to the moral scolds of the right. Watching the left move in this direction has been the second most disappointing aspect to them, the other being the destruction of civil rights by Obama.

    None of that covers the fact the Trump is a raving A-hole, a vulgarian and a braggart. But those aren’t things I care about in a president. I didn’t vote for him and I probably won’t in the future.Report

  11. InMD says:

    our country is susceptible to another 911

    The president defending his bizarre decision to pull troops out of Syria, and abandoning the Kurds, was not only irrational but only empowered Russia, Iran, and Turkey’s foreign policy. The price to concerned Americans was General Mattis’ resignation

    I must be getting old. I remember when fact free neocon talking points were solely the realm of Fox News.Report