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Don’t Forget Pence

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Last month, in the olden days, people were saying that Donald Trump was very bad, but Mike Pence would be even worse. That was before Steve Bannon was given a seat on the National Security Council, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were demoted and there was a Muslim Ban and the Dakota Access Pipeline was unblocked – and that’s just the start. In two weeks, everyone forgot to worry about Mike Pence.

There was recently a short documentary about the vice president on Radio 4. Niki Kelly, a local journalist, described what happened when Trump when to meet Pence in Indianapolis last July:

It was sort of what we all called his try-out, his audition, so to speak. The next day Trump was supposed to fly off and meet with some other people who might also be vice president, but his plane broke down, so they had Trump over to the governor’s residence – and Karen Pence … goes and gets a coffee cake and cuts some flowers from the garden and even the Trump kids came over – and now he’s vice president.

The grounding of Trump’s plane is presented as fortuitous, perhaps even providential. But was it really an accident? I wondered. How often does Trump’s plane break down?

With this odd circumstance in the back of my mind, I read Kieryn Darkwater’s piece about the ‘Christofascist’ movement: ‘I was homeschooled and my parents were part of a subculture called Quiverfull, whose aim is to outbreed everyone for Jesus.’ Part of the long-term Christofascist goal, according to Darkwater, is to get Pence into the White House:

I watched the Tea Party takeover and was surprised no one saw it coming. After all, this was part of the plan. Trump being elected is also part of the plan, although not Trump specifically; the true goal is Pence.

The New York Times account of Trump’s meeting with Pence, published on 16 July, is similar to Kelly’s: the plane has ‘mechanical problems’, Trump is taken to the governor’s residence, the older Trump children are flown in (for one night?), and now Mike joins Karen in picking ‘fresh flowers’ to adorn the breakfast table. Edenic bliss in Indiana.

What’s really fascinating about the Times story is that Pence, always described as a reticent man, is said to have delivered an ‘uncharacteristically impassioned monologue’ at breakfast. It is a speech of great rhetorical power, that just happens to come to him over his cornflakes, and which, falling on the ears of the unsuspecting Donald, knocks Chris Christie (and the others) out of the running. Trump is suddenly radiant with conviction that Pence is the man for him – this on the day when he is supposed to be seeing the other candidates for vice president.

According to an article in the New York Post last October, the man who told Trump his plane was grounded in Indiana was Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman before Steve Bannon took over. Last April, the Washington Post outlined Manafort’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Mobutu Sese Seko, Jonas Savimbi, Ferdinand Marcos and Victor Yanukovych. And the New York Times reported last month:

The FBI investigation into Mr. Manafort began last spring, and was an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. In August, the Times reported that Mr. Manafort’s name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organisations and government officials.

If Trump stays in power unimpeached, then Pence still wields power. The likelihood, though, is that Trump will go. Pence will then appear to rise as naturally as good white bread. And people will say: ‘Oh, Pence may be on the Christian right, but at least he knows how to behave, at least he observes the protocols, at least he won’t tweet us into war.’ He might, though. He’s already at war with women and the LGBT community, and people who aren’t extreme-right Christian evangelicals. What he will certainly do if he becomes president is advance the petrifying agenda outlined Darkwater’s homeschooling piece. And let’s not forget that the Christian right doesn’t believe in trying to do anything about climate change, because we are living in the End Times and either God will provide without our stir, or good Christians will be taken up to heaven in the Rapture. To try to stop spoiling the planet is un-Christian.

If Trump is impeached, many people in America – and the world – will welcome Pence as the new president with a great gasp of relief. It may be short-lived. ‘The true goal is Pence.’

Comments

  1. Higgs Boatswain says:

    I know that in a world where Donald Trump is president it is very tempting to believe that anything at all is possible, but don’t let’s go rushing to embrace every conspiracy theory that sounds even vaguely plausible. Until more concrete evidence of shadowy dealings presents itself, I think it’s most parsimonious to assume that Trump chose Pence precisely to try to reassure the small-town evangelical Republican base that supported Ted Cruz in the primaries.

    And Pence is not some kind of exotic ‘Christofascist’ monster. He is a typical right-wing evangelical conservative of the sort that has dominated the Republican party since the 1980s. Of course he’s anti-abortion and anti-gay and sceptical about climate change: he represents the Christian right that shares all those values. It is precisely because this constituency is losing its grip on the GOP that Pence is so symbolically important to Trump, a man who in many ways is the antithesis of everything they believe in. And I think it was characteristically canny of Donald Trump to select as a running-mate a representative of the Christian right who is so lacking in charisma, so totally grey and invisible, that he poses no realistic challenge to his own authority.

  2. John-Albert says:

    I am sorry. We are finding out, one surprise executive order making one huge thump after another, just how bad Trump can be. He is as silly as Brexit was. The sky has not yet fallen but should Trump be impeached and Pence get in, that will be biggest thud of them all. For yes, all the evil is real, the sky is falling, and we must move forward in spite of every religion, every TV personality and political ‘ism. What we all have to do in all countries and in every neighbourhood of the planet, is understand that we must go ’round the USA, which is now bound and gagged and chained in the basement, and go ’round all the other political and economic boogie-mens too — there is a planet to save, and a coalition of the rest of the world devoted to science and a Green Earth has to happen.

  3. xt1987 says:

    Really!? This sounds ever so slightly paranoid. While I can understand the concerns that many will have about Pence and his ultra-conservative and evangelical political views, it seems very spurious to assume Trump is the tool of Pence and the ‘Christofascist’ movement.

    It seems equally likely that Trump and his cronies are keen on utilising the considerable political and electoral support that Pence would bring from his religious base of supporters in order to create a winning coalition.

    Undoubtedly Drinkwater has seen first hand the militancy and dedication by which this movement pursues its political goals but I think in Trump they may have just found this is case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Far from strengthening the pro-life, pro-religious movement in America, it seems his core supporters and base are not really concerned with these matters (more jobs and immigration) and he just needed their support before unleashing his Trump-ian agenda which may be many things but I’m not sure if it is the anti-gay, pro-life crusade that Pence and his lot would advocate. They might find themselves marginalized pretty quickly after a bit of post-election lip-service is paid.

    These people are a dying breed (I pray!) and hopefully this is there one, brief, and final hurrah before progress is really made on civil rights in America.

    • kooijman says:

      I agree that it is difficult to determine who is using whom in this case. But it may be immaterial. I think it is unlikely that Trump will be impeached, let alone convicted. The bar for that is simply too high, even after the 2018 elections (it may even get higher). But a feasible alternative would be a silent coup by Pence using the 25th Amendment, section 4. In that context it is important to look at the Trump Cabinet, because a majority would have to cooperate in declaring the president “incapacitated” (mentally, one presumes in this case). Such a silent coup would still require two-thirds majorities in both houses to be upheld, but only if the president would be able to file a protest. He may of course be so raving mad, that nobody would take that serious. In this context the real question in view of the concerns the article voices is: Would we really be better off with Pence as Acting-President?

  4. labrys1 says:

    Pence is the truly scariest member of the Trump cabal and if he somehow comes into the presidency after Trump’s almost certain implosion / impeachment, he will wreak havoc on the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom from theocracy, and the US separation of church and state. But even as Vice-President he’ll be a damaging influence on social, political, and cultural life in the land between Canada and Mexico.

  5. Konstanzhoglo says:

    Everything is relative, but Yanukovich wasn’t a prorussian politic as his party Party of regions.


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