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.

TheNew 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 Postoutlined Manafort’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Mobutu Sese Seko, Jonas Savimbi, Ferdinand Marcos and Victor Yanukovych. And the New York Timesreported 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 in 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.’