There are some personalities and styles within the Trump administration that I almost admire.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is fiery and unapologetic. I disagree with her on plenty of issues, but it’s almost amusing to watch her manner of delivery. Vice President Pence is the opposite of Trump in every way and maintains a calm demeanor (at least publicly) amid the chaos. Such control is remarkable given what immediately surrounds him.
While that controlled behavior is generally a positive thing, it is not helpful during this Flight 103 Presidency, as Caleb Howe masterfully described it.
But really, do we expect a Mike Pence to stand up to a Donald Trump or even quietly chide him regarding his unrestrained and often childish behavior?
No, we do not.
Because this is the case, VP Pence only contributes to the chaos that he seeks to distance himself from. These continued contributions seal his involvement in the madness. He will not be absolved.
We saw this coming, though. Yes, Mike Pence has always had this sort of personality. It is behavior that prefers not to do much in the way of speaking out against something that a member of “your team” says, for fear of chipping away at camaraderie. It’s a Pence that prefers to keep an embarrassed public peace rather than a truthful internal war.
While governor of Indiana, Pence endorsed Ted Cruz. Pence liked that he was a principled conservative, you see. Less than three months after selecting Cruz conservatism, Pence was chosen by the exact opposite – Donald Trump – to be a vice presidential running mate. That lure of public office, the highest one in the land, is a powerful pull.
On the campaign trail, Mike Pence was quick to denounce then-President Obama’s description of Trump as a “demagogue”, insisting it has no place in the public discourse.
Mike Pence chastised President Obama on Friday for indirectly referring to Donald Trump as a demagogue, saying — perhaps ironically — that “name calling” has no “place in public life.”
Pence, responding directly to the president’s comments about Trump at the Democratic convention on Wednesday, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: “I don’t think name calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that.”
The irony of that last sentence is breathtaking.
Another great example is from the vice presidential debate that Pence had with known hot-head, Tim Kaine. Given Trump’s already insulting statements, to seemingly everyone, the moment for Pence to defend or condemn them was sure to come.
The pattern was set at the beginning of the vice presidential debate Tuesday: Tim Kaine would bring up Donald Trump’s past remarks and Pence would deflect them with denial or simply ignore them.
“I’m happy to defend him,” Pence said at one point, before apparently thinking better of it. A full-throated defense never came.
That silence said everything. Had Pence delved into those waters, he would have been called upon to completely to call out Trump. He couldn’t and still can’t because he’s Mike Pence. The peacekeeper.
Now we have the aftermath of Charlottesville to contend with. To be sure, this isn’t a comfortable topic to discuss, because it brings up the racial tensions in America which never went away. Regardless of the difficulty, a conservative who prefers principled conservatism should have no problem calling out the evil, and chastising leaders of their own party when they fail to do the same.
Unless of course one of those leaders is your boss, and the 45th president of the United States: the less-than-principled Donald Trump.
In all, President Trump thrice attempted to discuss the tragedy. On Saturday, he gave a mediocre statement and was less than specific about the groups involved. On Monday, he gave a statement in which he clearly pointed at the KKK, white supremacy, and other hate groups. He should have stopped there. Tuesday was the cringeworthy press conference wherein the president talked of the “fine people” on both sides of Saturday’s incident. His words – as leader of our country – were entirely unacceptable.
Guess what Mike Pence still can’t do? Condemn the president’s very incorrect, shocking, divisive, imbecilic words and actions.
Vice President Mike Pence declined Wednesday to defend President Trump’s controversial comments casting “blame on both sides” of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.
“What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy,” Pence said in Santiago, Chile. “The president has been clear on that tragedy and so have I.”
Pence did not directly answer questions about whether he agrees with Trump’s comments that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the clashes in Charlottesville between white supremacists and counter-protesters.
“I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia,” Pence said in the midst of his trip through South America. “I stand with the president, and I stand by those words.”
It is abundantly clear that anything the president says or does will be defended with words, or given a stamp of approval by continued silence, from Vice President Mike Pence.
He “stands with the president” when a conservative shouldn’t. We may forget all the slip-ups, mistakes, and shocking, egregious errors Trump makes over the next 3 1/2 years. However, we won’t forget that Mike Pence in his silence actually owns some of the mess.