The surrealism of Wednesday carried over to social media on Thursday with one of the persistent themes being the evisceration of Vice President Mike Pence “by some” for presiding over a joint session of Congress to ratify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
As far as I know, Pence has not yet been “arrested and executed by firing squad” for “treason” as predicted by wingnut attorney Lin Wood — and believed by the craziest of the crazy — but I do know despicable crap is being spewed about Pence as we speak.
So lemme start with this. People. Get a grip. I find it necessary to revisit an admonition from the late American statesman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan:
“You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
Unfortunately, the robust conflation of the two over the last 24 hours has led us down an ominous rabbit hole, the likes of which the sane among us would not have imagined possible in our nation’s capital, not all that long ago. Let’s begin with Mike Pence.
I doubt there has been anyone in politics more loyal to Donald Trump throughout his presidency than Indiana’s Mike Pence. Through thick and thin — and like it or not, there have been times when I know it was tough — Pence has steadfastly stood by Trump’s side and has unequivocally supported him at every turn. That is an undeniable fact.
Donald Trump repeatedly pressured Pence to unilaterally reject electors when Congress met on Wednesday to certify the election of Joe Biden. Most recently, Trump tweeted: “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
That is simply incorrect.
The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
Again, that’s not the way it works.
Let’s first deal with “fraudulently chosen electors.” Allegations of fraud are not evidence or proof of fraud. Neither are sworn affidavits. Drag me in front of the firing squad with Pence if you like, but this is simply the case. Even Fox Business host Lou Dobbs — of all people — recently observed the following:
“We’re eight weeks from the election, and we still don’t have verifiable, tangible, support for the crimes that everyone knows were committed — that is, defrauding other citizens who voted with fraudulent votes.
“We know that’s the case in Nevada, we know it’s the case in Pennsylvania and a number of other states, but we have had a devil of a time finding the actual proof. Why?”
I cannot answer the “why” and that is not germane to this piece but it will no doubt be debated for decades. What is germane is the fact that the vice president of the United States does not have unilateral authority to reject state electors — neither via the U.S. Constitution nor the Electoral Count Act of 1887.
The 12th Amendment of the Constitution lays it out simply — and specifically:
“The President of the Senate (Vice President of the United States) shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President.”
Further, per the Electoral Count Act of 1887, it is up to Congress — not the vice president — to settle disputes about state certifications.
If at least one member of the House and Senate raise an objection about a state’s results, it must be considered, immediately halting the joint session so members can return to their respective chambers and debate the challenge for up to two hours. Then a vote — decided by a simple majority — is held to determine whether to throw out that state’s results.
Prior to Wednesday, the above had not occurred since the Reconstruction Era. As I’ve written previously, with Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats in control of the House, Republican objections were DOA from the outset. I don’t like it either but, again, facts are facts.
The bottom line:
President Trump attempted to pressure Vice President Pence to do something the vice president did not have the unilateral authority to do.
One comment on social media, unfortunately, made by one of my long-time followers, went something like this:
“This is between you and me, Pence. I thought you were a man. I thought you loved America. I thought you were a patriot. You are a coward for not being loyal to our president. Are you proud of yourself?”
I got nothin’.
As RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar reported in her piece, Vice President Pence Gives a Master Class in Statesmanship As Senate Reconvenes, Mike Pence not only carried out what was no doubt the most difficult charge of his political career, but he did so after an extraordinary day that should never have degenerated as it did.
BREAKING: After two hours of debate in Congress, GOP objections to Pennsylvania’s election results are not sustained, and Vice President Pence records the electoral votes for Biden and Harris https://t.co/wTKxzqAo9U pic.twitter.com/y3rdYbDv5C
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2021
After delivering an opening statement in which he reflected on the day’s events, Mike Pence went about the job, as an aide would later tweet, of “finishing the People’s business.”
“So may God bless the lost, the injured, and the heroes forged on this day, he said. “May God bless all who serve here and those who protect this place, and may God bless the United States of America. Let’s get back to work.”
Pence announces Biden’s victory after Congress completes electoral count https://t.co/DNTkvD56mo
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2021
The Vice President of the United States received a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike. Unlike the anonymous quote I included above, I don’t know if Mike Pence was proud of himself or not; in many ways, my fellow Hoosier is a humble man.
But I do know this. On a day that now belongs to history, Mike Pence was not a coward.
When serious words like “cowardice,” “treasonous,” “traitorous,” “disloyal,” and other such ridiculous charges are carelessly and incorrectly thrown around, simply because those throwing them don’t like an outcome? Yeah, that’s on them.
Related RedState coverage: We Cannot and Should Not Justify Yesterday’s Chaos in Washington D.C.