Steven Perlberg and Lissandra Villa at BuzzFeed: President Mike Pence Doesn't Sound Quite So Bad, Some Top Democrats Say.
On the shiny partisan floors of the Capitol Tuesday, no elected Democrat would concede on the record that there is any difference at all between Trump and Pence. "Both are terrible" was a standard response. But ask many members on background and you'll get an emphatic, "Yes, Pence would be 100% better."Emphasis mine.
"I'd sleep easier with almost any other human being as president than Donald Trump," the former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau told BuzzFeed News. "I'm not as worried [Pence] would accidentally start a nuclear war because some Breitbart lunatic floated a conspiracy that got under his skin."
"I never thought I'd be in a world where I'd say this, but I'd much rather have Mike Pence in the Oval Office," said another former senior Obama administration official. "And the reason comes down to one word: crisis. All of the chaos of the last two months in the Trump White House has been self-inflicted."
"I think it's fair to say that every Democrat I know would prefer a President Mike Pence, without hesitation," said a third top Democratic aide. "He would pass some very bad laws, possibly more efficiently than Trump will. But we would not be worried about nuclear war, the end of NATO and an unholy alliance with Russia, the dissolution of basic democratic norms and principles, or the base-level stability and mental health of the world’s most powerful person."
"I know Pence is a much more doctrinaire conservative, but he is not evil and he is not crazy," said one of Bill Clinton's former top White House staffers. "I know that's a pathetically low bar for the most powerful job on earth, but if that's the choice, it is an easy one."
...And up in Silicon Valley, the investor Chris Sacca, a leading liberal voice, said that while he deplores Pence's policies, he would still prefer him to the incumbent.
"Pence's policies would likely be just as bad as Trump's when it comes to the impact on poor and working-class people and draconian toward women, people of color, and our LGBT Americans," he said. "But at least Pence has respect for our democratic institutions. He has no business conflicts of interest, respects the press, doesn't undermine our military and intelligence community leadership, doesn't praise foreign dictators, and is not hell-bent on destroying government agencies that protect our country and the people here."
What all of this tells me is that none of these folks are very familiar with Mike Pence.
It's probably true that Pence is less likely to start a nuclear war over some bullshit, which is no small thing, but Pence is just as likely (and maybe even more so) to start another kind of war over some bullshit. Just like the last Republican president did.
There is absolutely no reason to believe—none—that Pence is any less likely to replicate the strategy that worked so well for George W. Bush, and cook up some garbage rationale for invading another country.
And this idea that Pence "has respect for our democratic institutions," that he is somehow less disposed toward authoritarian rule than Donald Trump, is manifestly and dangerously wrong.
Let me again tell you the story of Glenda Ritz: Glenda Ritz, a Democrat, was elected in 2012 to be Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction. She was a huge underdog—but defeated the incumbent because a majority of Hoosiers, both progressive and conservative, supported her willingness to challenge Republican proposals that would destroy public education in Indiana.
Ritz was the first Democrat to serve as Superintendent in 40 years.
Pence was elected during the same election. One of his first acts as governor was to remove Ritz from the union-centered Educational Employment Relations Board. The Republican-controlled House Education Committee then proposed a bill to "strip the superintendent's position as chair of the State Board of Education. …The bill would allow Republican Gov. Mike Pence's 10 appointees to the 11-member board to elect their own chair."
In other words, as soon as a Democrat was elected to an influential state position (with 53% of the vote, higher than Pence received), the Republican governor and legislature set to rendering her office utterly without power and empowering themselves to oust her and prevent the reforms she was elected to champion.
The Republicans claimed their power grab, with Pence leading the charge, was merely intended to "clarify control of education policy."
Which is quite an extraordinary euphemism for seize unilateral control of education policy, in direct contravention of the will of the voters.
This is how Pence does business.
Which is to say nothing of his email problem. Pence recently turned over 13 boxes of emails in an "effort to make sure they are archived as required by law." The fact that he only turned these over after his email became a national news story is indicative of the fact that he wouldn't have complied if he hadn't been caught.
And, as a reminder, Pence continues his campaign to get the Indiana Supreme Court to "stay out of his redacted emails." When I linked that story a week ago, I noted: "Anyone who imagines Pence is less authoritarian or more decent than Trump is sorely mistaken."
Those examples are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg, as longtime readers who have followed my coverage of Pence over the years already know.
Pence thrives in a vacuum of inattention and the resulting ignorance of people who never paid attention to him while he was governor of Indiana, and don't pay attention to the people who lived under and wrote about his governance.
[CN: Video may autoplay at link; H/T to Aphra] In a piece for the Indy Star, Matthew Tully shares the perspective of one reader reacting to his suggestion that Pence might be "a health upgrade from the current occupant of the White House."
Mike agreed but emailed to put things in perspective. "It does seem funny," he said. "Less than a year ago folks, including you, were saying Pence was a horrible governor. The odds were probably less than 50/50 that he would have (won reelection). Fast forward and he's now the most popular politician in D.C."It is. But it's also an entirely avoidable conundrum. If Trump must go because he's a despotic nightmare who has no respect for the rule of law or our democratic institutions, then Pence must go, too. He is as much a part of this chaotic, cruel administration as the man who ran at the top of the ticket.
"Well," Mike concluded, "ain't this a conundrum of epic proportions?"
And if anyone imagines that Pence, who is an experienced politician and knows how to get things done, will somehow be an improvement on Trump wallowing in missteps, I hasten to warn them they have made a terrible miscalculation.
Talk to a progressive who lived in Indiana under Mike Pence's governance, aided by a Republican majority in the state legislature. See how they think it went, instead of basing your opinions on what's been reported by people who have never stepped foot in Indiana.
I am available for all inquiries.