I came across a National Review article the other day. My first reaction was to scoff at it. Its premise: The left was already lighting dynamite sticks and preparing to undermine Mike Pence before he ever became President of the United States.
At one point, the author suggested that
[i]f 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.
‘The standard anti-left rhetoric from the National Review,’ I immediately thought. In my mind, Trump’s doomed presidency — and, remember, I believe he will be out of office sometime before Sept. 1, 2017 — would be replaced by something more, well, presidential. Mind you, Pence doesn’t represent my kind of politics, especially on most social issues, but at least he’d be a responsible steward for the country.
So when I saw this opinion piece in today’s Guardian, I had to chuckle. At one point, it states
[o]n Thursday night, the broadcaster Rachel Maddow of the MSNBC network devoted a segment to hammering him. “Vice-President Mike Pence has made a number of blunt, direct false statements related to the Trump-Russia investigation, both during the transition and since he has been vice-president,” she told viewers. “Mike Pence has his own troubles when it comes to this scandal.”
Ben Wikler, Washington director of the progressive group MoveOn.org, said: “Mike Pence has been on the Trump train. We don’t know if Trump colluded with Russia but we know that Pence colluded with Trump. The idea that he would emerge unscathed from the wreckage is not something that makes me lose any sleep.”
Doyle McManus, of the Los Angeles Times, whose editorial board has made no secret of its disdain for Trump, offers a sober assessment of what a Pence presidency would look like. If you are expecting him to lob a grenade at the vice president, you will be mistaken.
In the end, as Democrats in Washington and throughout the country keep banging the drum about dumping Trump, they need to weigh what his replacement would mean for their political message.
What they’re already finding is that Pence offers some unassailable credentials and some controversial personal beliefs. And all the while, those sticks of dynamite are indeed ready to be ignited.