Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Embracing Michael Pence’s Coming Presidency
When Mike Pence was the Governor of Indiana he made a major embarrassment of himself in 2015 by pushing a “Religious Freedom” bill though the state legislature that allowed discrimination against LGBT people if based on a sincerely held religious belief. He happily signed the bill into law in the presence of an invited group of religious leaders.
Of course such a bill means that hatred of gays was now legal in Indiana. All you had to do was claim “God made me do it” and you could bar the door to gays who wanted the services of your business, or to rent your apartment, or to be hired at your organization. Moreover this animosity against gays was part of a long held belief that Mike Pence has maintained throughout his political life. Whatever the far right embraces, he likes it, urges it, and pushed its agenda both when he was a Congressman, and as a governor when he signed bills into law. He is the darling of the NRA, hates legislation restricting tobacco (“Smoking doesn’t kill,” Mike has stubbornly insisted), dismisses climate change as fantasy, loves charter schools, and has said that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare was as bad as the 9/11 attacks (though he later apologized for that absurdity). In Congress and as governor he has worked hard to abolish any right to abortion. He signed into law a bill that would have made women who aborted fetuses bury or cremate the remains, and made it a crime for doctors to assist in an abortion if the woman’s stated reason was a disability in the fetus—a law later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge. Michael Pence doesn’t believe in evolution, favors using coal as a major energy source, and signed a bill that forbade Indiana municipalities to raise the minimum wage above the federal level. Mike sums himself up as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." However when he had the Indiana legislation pass his Religious Freedom To Discriminate Act he didn’t get away with it. The reaction from the rest of the country astounded him. Quickly companies pulled out of deals to open up shop in Indiana, sports organizations threatened to move big events elsewhere, major celebrities went to social media and whipped up anti-Indiana activity, other states forbade governmental travel to Indiana. Faced with this tsunami the Indianapolis Star (itself a quite conservative newspaper) published a front page banner headline stating simply “FIX THIS NOW.” This sent Pence and the state legislature into full retreat, and led to the passage of a revised version of the bill which more or less restored the status quo prior to the original legislative sin.
I myself am a native Hoosier, having been born in southern Indiana, the fifth generation of Whaleys to be Indiana bred. I haven’t lived there except for the fifth grade and when I taught for five years at the Indiana Indianapolis Law School in the early 70’s, but I have many relatives and friends in the state, and they’ve informed me that Mike Pence was not a popular governor and was facing an iffy reelection bid this past year had he not thrown his lot in with Donald Trump by becoming his Vice Presidential nominee.
Once Trump picked this unknown man from the crowd of pretenders to the second spot I assumed he’d be every bit as pathetic as Trump himself, and for awhile that appeared true. His first appearance with Trump on 60 Minutes was embarrassing as poor Pence wasn’t allowed to do more than smile and nod while Trump bloviated happily about himself and how wise he was for choosing this second-rater. But my opinion of Pence began to change during the Vice Presidential Debate he had with Senator Tim Kaine. In that debate Kaine appeared both overeager and overprepared, while Pence was surprisingly calm and—to my annoyance and chagrin—quite intelligent and articulate. Hmm. He was not quite the dummy I’d assumed.
But Pence’s opinions on important issues I cared about were just as bad as always, so I stopped thinking about him, concentrating instead on the manifesting horror that was Donald Trump extraordinaire.
Like most everyone it never occurred to me that Trump would actually win the presidency, and on election night I was one of millions who sat staring at the TV, stupefied with shock. At the end of a month or so of his presidency I’m daily slammed against the wall by his inane and dangerous deeds, thoughts, and mindless tweets. My very liberal husband foams at the mouth two or more times a day as he contemplates Trump’s latest idiocy. It’s no small fancy to imagine a situation in which Trump feels himself forced to pull out the nuclear football, examine it curiously on his lap, and then push one or two buttons, blowing us all up, all over some personal indignity for which a tweet won’t have quite the oomph he needs.
The hope many of us feel deep down inside is the possibility—hell, the likelihood!—that Trump will make a major mistake and do something that he can justify in his own mind but which is, oops, illegal under the current laws of the land. When that happens—and who would take a bet that it won’t?—the impeachment proceedings will start, he’ll fight, and he’ll lose. Out he’ll go. The first President of the United States to be impeached and removed by trial in the Senate.
Or—dreadful to think about, but all too possible—some deranged individual decides to join the Presidential Assassins Club and takes Trump out in a clever way the Secret Service didn’t anticipate.
But now we come to the point of this post. In the event that Donald John Trump is unable or prevented from completing his presidency Michael Pence would become president. When this is mentioned—and people are talking about it—a number of Trump haters will shake their head and just say, “But Pence is no better, so it’s all the same.”
And that’s just wrong.
Donald Trump isn’t like any other president we’ve had in our history. The other 43 [yes, 43: Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president] were sane, responsible, and bound by at least some sense of ethics. Trump is an ego-maniac with no exposure to history, literature, religion, common decency, or empathy. He has the attention span of a puppy and the self-control of a two-year old. Lately he’s been calling for more nukes! Think of that! More nukes! Who else on the planet thinks that’s a good idea? It’s been said that doing so is comparable to two men waist-deep in gasoline arguing about who has more matches!
Oh, I’d love to be wrong, but I think that there is a serious—and I mean SERIOUS—chance that Donald Trump will do something that causes world-ending bombs to go off. He could play “mine is bigger than yours” with Putin, or dare Kim Jung Un to fire a ballistic missile at California, or _________ (fill in the blank with some other act of madness).
I’d never enter a voting booth and pull the lever for Mike Pence as President of the United States. He’s against most everything I stand for. But that's not the question.
I don’t think he’d be a dangerous president. I just think he’d be a lousy one we’d replace fast at the next election.
Between that choice and the nightmare we currently have, give me President Michael Richard Pence, 46th President of the United States.
I’ll take him tomorrow over what we have today.
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html
“A Gay Hoosier Lawyer Looks at Indiana’s RFRA: The Religious Bigot Protection Act,” March 30, 2015;http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-gay-hoosier-lawyer-looks-at-indianas.html
“Trump's VP Choice: Introducing Sarah Palin . . . uh . . . Mike Pence!” July 18, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/07/trumps-vp-choice-introducing-sarah.html
“Careful What You Wish For: Making Trump an Illegitimate President,” January 20, 2017; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/01/careful-what-you-wish-for-making-trump.html
“President Preposterous: Donald Takes the Helm,” November 14, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/president-preposterous-donald-takes-helm_14.html
“Calm Yourself: What Trump Can and Cannot Do About LGBT Rights,” November 16, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/11/calm-yourself-what-trump-can-and-cannot_16.html
“Fake News You Might Like to Read,” February 17, 2017; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/02/fake-news-you-might-like-to-read.html