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Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Pence doesn't matter -- and does

Trump's selection of Republican Governor Mike Pence of Indiana as a running mate will change maybe 12 votes nationally. But you have to pick a vice presidential candidate, and Pence is a nice boring man who looks competent. The election remains a referendum on Trump. Political experts will overthink this. Already, Trumpkin Ann Coulter has declared this his first huge mistake.

Who is Pence? He once was a darling of what is now the Never Trump crowd.

From the National Review, May 5, 2014:
Mike Pence’s Federalism
Does it have a future on Pennsylvania Avenue? 
Mike Pence was elected governor of Indiana in November 2012 almost under the radar. Other events attracted more attention, particularly the state’s Senate race, which attracted national attention after Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee, knocked off six-term senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary and then threw away any chance of winning by saying that pregnancies stemming from rape are “something that God intended to happen.” Then there was Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s popular two-term governor, whose legacy hovered over Pence as he campaigned. Pence had no catchy campaign slogans, only talk of taking the Hoosier state from “good to great” and “from reform to results.”
Before his run for the governorship, though, Pence had turned heads. The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol urged him to run for president in 2012. So did Club for Growth president Chris Chocola and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, two prominent free-market leaders. Pence is a favorite of social conservatives, too. He is perhaps best known for his oft-repeated statement that he is “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order.” At the Value Voters Summit in 2010, he won the straw poll for both president and vice president. Frequently mentioned as a dark-horse candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he is among a handful of Republican governors Mitt Romney said he’d like to see vie for it.
Ah yes, the Pence presidency. The conservative commentariat in the capital always has a flavor of the month, usually an obscure governor from a resoundingly Republican state. They pounded the tom-toms for Palin for vice president in 2007,  a year before Republicans had a presidential nominee.

In the abstract, she looked good. Ditto Mitch Daniels. Ditto Mike Pence. But the reality is in the governance, not the speeches. I found Pence wanting in his handling of Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I would have told Angie's List to bite me.

Experts will tell you that in light of RFRA, selecting Pence will cost Trump votes on the left and on the right. Nope. Nothing changes. His supporters will suck it up -- Coulter still will vote for him -- while Bill Kristol still won't.

Politically, it does not matter. This election is a referendum on Trump, not Pence or even Hillary. We began the day with the election focusing on Trump. We will end the day the same way.

However, aesthetically, selecting Pence matters. To most voters, Pence looks presidential. If something happens to Trump, Pence steps in. Newt, Christie and a general most of voters never heard of do not look presidential. Pence does. But Pence also has the decency to look slightly less presidential than Trump. Remember how much more presidential Lloyd Bentsen looked than Mike Dukakis in 1988? Everyone said Dan Quayle was a mistake, but in retrospect, he made Bush look bigger.

You can see the problem Hillary faces. She cannot be dwarfed by her running mate, which hampers finding someone who looks presidential. Did you see her and Liz Warren? They looked like grandma and her sister doing a "Golden Girls" cosplay, albeit both are Rose. I think Biden is her only real choice. He looks more presidential, but not in a threatening way.

Pence will do.


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  1. As her VP running mate, Hillary will have to find a far left, transgendered, handicapped, black Hispanic feminist to pander to each of the groups that make up the Democratic uneasy coalition. If any of those categories remain unchecked, someone is going to feel disrespected, and we all know how easily Liberals take offense. I say good luck with her finding a running mate who checks all the required boxes.

  2. Pence would not have been my first choice but I guess you can call me a "Trumpkin", and I have great respect for Mr. Trump's judgement. His track record to date is pretty good. NumberUSA rates Pence a solid B on his immigration actions. Maybe Pence will help calm down some of the never trumpers, who knows. The election is still The Donald vs hilLIARy.

  3. I think Pence will be a fine VP. I mean, really, what does a VP do? President of the Senate and some ceremonial stuff. There will be plenty of room in the Trump administration for Newt, Chris Christie, and others. And he's gotta name John Bolton as Secretary of State. He'll yank some knots in some tails at Foggy Bottom and straighten out the mess they have become as well as set straight our international predicaments caused by the Obama floozies. - Elric

    1. Trump will a!so have Carl Icahn as his SecTreas, an offer publicly made and accepted months ago. The hedge fund manager is expected to be heavily involved in trade negotiations, particularly any with China.

  4. John Nance Garner...a warm bucket of spit. (Supposedly he said piss but that word was not allowed back then). I'm not thrilled with Pence but he'll hold his own against whatever token lefty Hill decides to choose. Heck, maybe it'll even be Huma!

  5. "If something happens to Trump, Pence steps in."

    That's really it. The Donald just turned 70, Pence is 57.

  6. From a pro-open borders web site:

    "Like Trump, Pence takes a harsh, enforcement-centric approach to immigration. Pence’s record shows he used his time in Congress and as the Governor of Indiana to pursue extreme and punitive immigration policies earning him a 100 percent approval rating by the anti-immigration group, Federation for American Immigration Reform."

    If Trump has found his Dan Quayle, sounds good to far.

    1. "Like Trump, Pence takes a harsh, enforcement-centric approach to immigration."

      Gee, they're talking as if this was a bad thing. Given all the terrorist attacks and sexual rampages both here and in Europe during the past several months, I'd say a "harsh, enforcement-centric approach to immigration" is looking better by the day to a majority of the American electorate.

  7. I started reading TRUMP THE PRESS yesterday and have read the first 15 chapters so far. No offense, Don, but I never expected a non-fiction book involving politics to be absolutely fascinating, but it is. And hilarious at times, too! I laughed all through Chapter 6, titled PEAK TRUMP. Two thumbs up!

    1. Thank you. Look forward to your Amazon review. Peak Trump was a fun chapter to write.

  8. I love that glowing, highly-complimentary review of Pence's excellent work on enforcing immigration law from that anti-American, Marxist, extremist left wing hater pro-invasion website.

    1. Except for the fact that Pence claimed Trump's religious test for immigrants from the Middle East was unConstitutional, didn't he? That is a legally dubious claim to begin with and it's contrary to Trump's core campaign promise, i.e., what Pence said reflects a degree of obtuseness, apart from contradicting a central plank in Trump's platform, which probably should have disqualified Pence from being Trump's running mate. It's like oil and water, when you take a hard look at the two, they really don't mix.

    2. Even Trump walked that religious test back ... he should have never articulated it to begin with, for it is neither principled nor prudent. All it does is reinforce what our enemies want those in dar-al-Islam who could choose to live in peace, to think of us.

  9. "Pence doesn't matter. "

    Oh yes he does. TP = toilet paper. Hilarity ensues. How is Team Trump going to work around that? They should probably skip the TP shorthand and always spell the candidates' names out in full, no matter how awkward that gets. Hillary was just handed a golden opportunity to needle The Donald. Let's see if or how he manages to defuse the opening she's now been given.

  10. Why did Donald lie to Bill O'Reilly and the huge Fox News audience last night that he was delaying his VP announcement for the fake reason of the Nice, France terror attack and that he had not yet selected his candidate? There should never be a reason to lie to potential voters, but he does it all the time. As it turns out, Pence was offered the running mate role early on Thursday.

    But Ann Coulter found fault with the pick when she liked the Trump-Christie conspiracy.

    As for the "conservative commentariat in the (sic) capital" - it is highly unlikely that the Weekly Standard, Freedom Works, et al, pushed for Sarah Palin for Veep in 2007 - because she did not become Alaska's governor until December 2006.

    And while I agree that Pence stepped in when he failed to tell Bill Oesterle to take his tax-dodging company elsewhere, that faux pas is minuscule compared to average almost daily screw-ups on Trump's part. In the case of Pence, he is a good-looking man with white hair - perfect for a politician - and Trump's bias toward external looks strikes again.

      July 2007
      Newsweek featured her (and Janet Napolitano) in a story in October 2007

    2. Lose the superfluous "(sic)." It's correct as written.

      A capitol is a building. If you're going to be a dumbass, don't be one while pretending to be on top of stuff THAT YOU CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND, YOU EEEEEDIIIIOT!


    3. Give Barfly a break. The Wernicke-Korsakoff is getting worse every day.

  11. Mick can take care of the pence, leaving The Donald free to come out with the anti-Clinton pounds.

    As applied to Bubba, that's a rope-a-grope strategy.

  12. "However, aesthetically, selecting Pence matters. To most voters, Pence looks presidential. If something happens to Trump, Pence steps in. Newt, Christie and a general most of voters never heard of do not look presidential. Pence does. But Pence also has the decency to look slightly less presidential than Trump. Remember how much more presidential Lloyd Bentsen looked than Mike Dukakis in 1988? Everyone said Dan Quayle was a mistake, but in retrospect, he made Bush look bigger."

    Lots of excerpt to emphasize this. (1) The opening act is not to upstage the headlining act; that is a given. (2) The party must be unified as much as it can be unified; that means a VP that will be acceptable to the losing coalition, to represent its interests.

    Pence fulfills both of those requirements. He is Midwestern and bland. He is the antithesis of the flashy, showy Trump. He has plenty of good credentials, and has been 'around the block' a few times. Pence has the contacts in the Republican party, to reassure those who actually mean something to the party* that things will not go too weird too fast.

    The sort of choice I expected.**

    *Not pundits - those opinion-slingers are a dime a dozen at any truck stop or bar.

    **Unifying the party is a standard step after any primary battle. Bringing the squabbling factions together, giving each something is simply good politics. Deals need to be cut; Artfully cut Deals, even.***

    If you know what I mean.

    ***Has anyone ever expressed an assessment on how good at the deal the #NeverTrump group was? Because other than bragging pronouncements I never heard anything and I am seeing even less. I know how easy it is to run my own mouth....

    -Mikey NTH

  13. Pence is just fine. I would have liked Joni Ernst, but clearly that idea was short lived.

  14. The Democrats have been nursing Julian Castro from a pup, and he'll likely be Hillary's pick.

    She could really strike a blow by picking a Republican. Susanna Martinez, who publicly squabbled with Trump, might be an interesting choice.

    1. Yeah, Hillary could pick Susanna Martinez...but she won't. Martinez will be that hot chick at the sock hop that all the boys want to pick up while Cankles sits alone by herself in a corner, twisting her hair, sipping on spiked punch, and muttering, "I'll pay all of you bastards back someday."