Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Literary Corner: Nicely, Nicely

As you know, former vice president and reputed presidential candidate Michael Pence boldly confided to the attendees of the Gridiron Dinner on Saturday (no cameras), that the Former Guy's launch of his irregulars' attack on the Capitol was constitutionally ill-founded, and also insensitive to Pence's personal needs: 

“President Trump was wrong; I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence told the gathering of reporters and politicians on Saturday. “And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

I'm sure he's right and January 6 will live in infamy as Pence Family Endangerment Day. 

Meanwhile,  the Former was quick to respond, basically, that Pence had endangered himself:

"Jan 6" As We Call It

by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

Had he sent the votes
back to the legislatures,
they wouldn’t have had
a problem with January 6,
so in many ways
you can blame him for January 6.

Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania,
Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe,
number one, you'd have had a different outcome.
But I also believe you wouldn’t have had
"January 6" as we call it.

I guess he figured that being nice
is not working. But, you know,
he’s out there campaigning.
And he’s trying very hard.
And he’s a nice man; I’ve
known him; I had a very
good relationship until the end.

This is actually kind of brilliant, rhetorically speaking, which of course doesn't mean anything to do with making sense—I'm talking about the emotional content here, which is Trumpery at its most skillful. 

Logically, the basic message in the first 11 lines is "Pence caused the riot by refusing to submit to my blackmail", the familiar wife-beater's excuse (it's her fault I hit her, if she hadn't provoked me I wouldn't have needed to). But the appeal to "niceness" turns it emotionally upside down; Trump seizes the role of the "nice guy", precisely by conceding that Pence is "nice" at heart, by nature, though not at the moment, in the violence of the presidential campaign, where his "niceness" hasn't worked for him and he's been forced to give it up, turning to saying bad things about Trump.

Trump magnanimously forgives him that ("he's trying very hard"), underscoring his own superiority (as an inevitable winner, he can afford to be "nice") and projecting it back to his presidency, when they both used to be nice, with their "very good relationship", until Pence stopped being "nice" and turned on him, thus turning January 6 into "January 6 as we call it". If only Pence had been "nice"! And Trump ends up as the mysteriously abandoned friend, the one who will still be "nice" and not judgmental because that's just his character.

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