The Man Doth Protest Too Much: Pence Positioning

What’s worse for the country than an unstable Donald Trump? A calculating Mike Pence. The vice president and his people worked themselves into a lather over a New York Times article that suggested (based on suggestable evidence) that Pence is putting himself into position to move into the Oval Office should Trump finally succumb to the lies, deceit and probing eyes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

It isn’t the first time it’s been suggested that Pence is as calculated as they come—a more subtle, better coiffed and more dangerous Republican who may have figured the chances were decent that Trump wouldn’t make it through four years or if he does, won’t run for reelection as far back as when Pence accepted the number two spot on the ticket.

Where Trump is a cartoonish, buffoonish caricature of himself, Pence is the ultimate manipulator.

The Times article reported about a number of Republicans who might be running a “shadow campaign.” It said of Pence, “Though it is customary for vice presidents to keep a full political calendar, he has gone a step further, creating an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration.

“The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee, shrugging off warnings from some high-profile Republicans that it would create speculation about his intentions. The group, set up with help from Jack Oliver, a former fund-raiser for George W. Bush, has overshadowed Mr. Trump’s own primary outside political group, America First Action, even raising more in disclosed donations.”

Pence got just a little upset about the suggestion that he was waiting in the wings for Trump Air to crash and burn. He called the Times report, “disgraceful and offensive” and, like his boss, labeled the report, “fake news.”

Kellyanne Conway—that bastion of accurate information—not surprisingly objected.

 

Make no mistake. Pence is a front and center fighter in the “culture wars.” He has taken various positions ranging from a claim that cigarettes do not cause cancer (which he has finally come around from) to pushing for funding for gay “conversion therapy”—inhumane programs that claim to “fix” gay people.

Pence has also been very careful in distancing himself from Trump’s problems. He famously was “lied to” about Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia. He also faithfully parroted the line that James Comey was fired as a result of a memo from the acting FBI director. (Trump blew that claim out of the water by subsequently saying he was going to fire Comey anyway.)

So Pence seemingly flies higher than Trump and will likely find very little trouble in getting conservative uber contributors the Koch brothers who have had a problem with Trump in the past.

So, hoping Trump gets impeached or throws in the towel in 2020? Be careful what you wish for.