Saturday, May 20, 2017

Take care of the Pence and the hounds will take care of themselves

Governor Mike Pence in deep conversation with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, in a photo I haven't been able to date, via Daily Kos.

Kyle Smith writes at National Review Online:
Should Mike Pence become president, the Left will surely lead us in a national chorus of “Whew! Back to normal.” Correct? After all, our friends in the Democratic party have been saying for many months that President Trump is not normal, that he is uniquely unfit for office, that his brand of mendaciousness, volatility, poor character, and immaturity have no precedent in the Oval Office, that he is a Nazi sympathizer and even a fascist, that he is an extremist who exists outside the bounds of ordinary political disagreement.
Mike Pence, on the other hand, is so normal that one of the things that the late-night comics mock him for is being too normal.
Well, if it's normal for a man in his late 50s to be afraid of being alone in a room with a woman he isn't married to, or to be in a room where alcohol is being served unless Mrs. Pence, who he calls "Mother", is there with him to preserve him from committing who knows what kind of desperate depravities, then sure, late-night comics mock him for that. Surely we can agree that he's as abnormal as Trump, only in a different and generally quieter way.

If the Resistance or Trump’s own folly actually succeeds in separating Trump from his current office, then the Left will sing hosannas to the Pencian restoration of the agreed boundaries of disputation. The political temperature will recede from scalding to balmy. The volume dial will spin sharply in a counterclockwise direction. Hysterical shrieking will be replaced by reasoned conversational tones.
Right? Of course not. If Trump leaves office prematurely for any reason, President Pence will immediately be denounced as far worse. In fact, it would happen before he even took office. In fact it’s already happening. That this is true is testament to the fundamentally unprincipled nature of the Left. Whatever looks like a winning strategy on Thursday is what matters, even if it nullifies everything you said you believed on Monday.
Actually since as long ago as last July we've been debating whether we should or shouldn't hope for Trump to go away in Pence's favor—I didn't think Trump was stable enough mentally to make it through the convention, which shows how wrong I was—and which of the two would make the most calamitous president. 

Not so much because of a lack of principles as because of too many. Sometimes you'd think the prospect of a President Trump was so humiliating to your national pride that you'd accept anything else, including a President Pence, and other times you'd be thinking at least Trump would be too incompetent to accomplish any of the horrors he seemed determined to wreak on the population, while Pence had a track record as Indiana governor indicating he wouldn't (as Indiana journalists would gladly tell you if you asked). Leaving entirely aside the rights of LGTBQ people and women's control over their bodies, did we want a president of the extreme reactionary right who would cheerfully condemn tens of millions of us to hunger, illiteracy, and disease because we don't meet his moral standards? Or one of the psychopathic right who has never been convinced that anybody really exists outside his head? Did we want our government to be starved to death by tax rebels or blown up by lunatics? My principles objected to both.

And then we weren't reassured by Pence's conduct during the campaign, which made him seem literally more dishonest than Trump himself, as no less an actual conservative than Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin complained in October. Compounded by his conduct since the inauguration of pretending to know nothing about the unquenchable dumpster fire that the White House has become—obviously he's been convinced from the outset that Trump wouldn't be able to survive more than a few months of presidency and he was going to become president himself without the trouble of going through a single primary, if he could avoid getting impeached, and that's the only thing that's been animating anything he's done since January, cold self-interest and ideological fervor (and, speaking of Russians, don't forget it was Paul Manafort who tricked Trump into naming Pence—what do you mean, we weren't speaking of Russians?). 

For which, with all the lying to the public, betrayal, and accessory-after-the-facthood it entails, he certainly deserves to be impeached anyway, even if it means giving the presidency to that zombie-eyed granny starver (thanks Mr. Pierce) Paul Ryan, gods forbid. It's possible, as Pence and Ryan display more incompetence in their own right than we could easily have hoped for over the management of Congress, that it still doesn't matter that much, but I'm not alone in tending to hope more often than otherwise that Trump does manage to cling on to office and we stagger through dazed but not mortally wounded until the 2018 elections give us a Democratic Speaker of the House. For my country's sake. Because Trump's just crazy, in the final analysis, but Pence is truly evil.

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