Thursday, January 13, 2022


In 2020, Tom LoBianco published a book about Mike Pence called Piety & Power ("Crisp and engaging" --The New York Times Book Review). LoBianco is still on the Pence beat. Yesterday, Vanity Fair posted a LoBianco story that reads like a Pence '24 press release. It starts with this jaw-dropper:
“You hear it here first, [he’s the] shadow front-runner,” texted one of Mike Pence’s longtime friends after the former vice president’s November appearance at the University of Iowa.
LoBianco takes this assertion very, very seriously. After all:
Pence had just delivered a speech that may come to be seen as a pivotal moment should he cement what already seems obvious: He’s running for president, and doing so regardless of who his opponents might be.

... After delivering the equivalent of a stump speech touting his work in the White House, he moved on to a question-and-answer session with students.... One student accused Pence of certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump merely to further his own presidential ambitions: “My question is, what is the name of the person who told you to buck President Trump’s plan and certify the votes?”

“James Madison,” Pence replied, pausing for effect.
I call bullshit.

I'm not saying that this never happened -- the exchange was also reported at the time by the Des Moines Register and other news outlets. I'm saying that it was a planted question. It had to be. If you were a pro-Trump, stop-the-steal Republican and you wanted to ask Pence why he did what he did on January 6, is this the way you'd word the question? Is this how you'd word it if you approved of what he did, or were on the fence? No. Maybe you'd ask, "What influenced your decision to certify the votes?" or "How did you arrive at the decision to certify the votes?" You wouldn't tee up Pence's answer as precisely as this. You wouldn't ask about a "person," or assume that there must have been only one. So I'm not buying it.

LoBianco calls this "a pivotal moment," even though it happened two and a half months ago and got very little attention. He insists that Trump's clout is in decline while Pence's is rising.
Meanwhile, Pence and others continue to draw attention that otherwise would have gone Trump’s direction. “I’m confident that our party and our movement will choose the right leaders and the right voices to make our country strong and great once again,” Pence said in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Not quite a declaration of candidacy, but also not a bow to the king of the GOP.

In response, Trump issued an attack on Pence in early December, saying in a statement that Pence was a “good man,” but that he made a “big mistake” in refusing to overturn the 2020 election results.
Trump making news for reacting to a Pence interview that wasn't really a newsmaker is a sign that Pence is on the rise? Really?

This all reaches its nadir when LoBianco tells us that January 6 was a good thing for Pence, actually.
Pence has tap-danced around the events of January 6 ever since, even while fallout from the insurrection has kept his name consistently in the news—a level of exposure invaluable to any politician looking to win the highest office in the land.
Almost being hanged by supporters of the most popular figure in your own party? Excellent career move! There's no such thing as bad publicity!

In a mid-December YouGov/University of Massachusetts poll, 55% of Republican respondents said that Donald Trump was their preferred 2024 presidential candidate. Mike Pence finished at 6%, tied with Ted Cruz, and trailing Ron DeSantis (20%) and Nikki Haley (7%). Pence is in third place as a second choice, at 13%, behind DeSantis (37%) and Cruz (15%), and tied with Trump. Mike Pence is not going to be the Republican presidential nominee -- ever. But keep dreaming, Tom.

1 comment:

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