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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mike Pence

Like many people, I've been reading a lot about Mike Pence, who was thrust into the limelight by being tapped by Donald Trump as his running mate. I had heard of Pence before; he was brought up by the Great Mentioner in both 2008 and 2012 for Presidential bids, and then made an ass out of himself by signing a law that flat-out discriminates against LGBT people. But of all the quotes I found from him, the one that I think sums him up the most was one he made in 1998: "Smoking does not kill." Suffice it to say, he has reaped several thousand dollars from tobacco lobbies.

The 2016 Republican presidential race has been like no other, so why not the selection of the running mate? There were a lot of factors going on. Trump has alienated most of the party, so most, if not all, of the type of people who would be natural selections for someone like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio didn't pick up the phone. In another universe, Governors Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez would be candidates, or Senator Tim Scott, the only African American Republican in the Senate, or Rubio, John Kasich, or Scott Walker, defeated but willing to help. But no, anyone with any future in politics wanted no part of the dumpster fire that is the Trump campaign.

The same few names were floating around, and they were horrible. Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich, both unpleasant, were there at the end, along with a general, Michael T. Flynn, who did himself no favors by flip-flopping on abortion rights in his one day in the spotlight. Pence, governor of Indiana and a former congressman, was a late arrival, and as Nate Silver put it, "was the least-worst candidate." The New Yorker's John Cassidy, in his six reasons why Pence was a good choice, put reasons 1 and 2 that he is not Christie or Gingrich.

But of course Trump can't do things very well. How he could handle a world war when he couldn't competently select a running mate is a valid question. Pence's name leaked on Thursday, but it wasn't official. A press conference was scheduled for Friday at 11, but Trump called it off, supposedly because of the attack in Nice (which certainly is bullshit). Several reports indicate that Trump had buyer's remorse, and there was coitus interruptus. He had offered Pence the job, and Pence had accepted, but Trump wanted to back out. Apparently he wanted to go with Christie or Gingrich, but I want to believe he was going to offer it to his daughter, Ivanka, who was the most-most worst pick imaginable.

This certainly couldn't have been fun for Pence, who was flown East and had filed paperwork to remove himself from the ballot for re-election as Indiana's governor. Not only would he be left at the altar, he would have been without a job. Finally Trump tweeted the news that Pence was the official pick, so the two have still not appeared together as a couple.

I must say Pence, of all the available options, is the least-worst. I could have seen Rubio or Bush or Ted Cruz picking him. He looks like a generic businessman, with Lego hair, an aged Ken doll that seems about as exciting as a wet newspaper. But he was no shoo-in for re-election, as he made Indiana a laughing stock with the Religious Freedom Act, a law designed to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. Pence, like Trump, is based on hate--he is homophobic, hates immigrants (he battled to keep Syrian refugees out of the state), and a hater of education, as he slashed education money for corporate tax breaks. He is another white guy in a suit (it's notable that of Trump's finalists none were women or people of color) who will probably go back to being a radio host, the job he had before being a congressman.

During the debate, I hope someone asks him if he still thinks smoking is not a killer, and also if the Earth is flat or if gravity exists. We already know he's a climate change denier.

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