Pence: Would he be an upgrade?
“President Mike Pence?” said Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times. The investigations and scandals surrounding President Trump have created a growing buzz in Washington about a potential Pence presidency—both “from Republicans wistful for the days of a functional White House” and from Democrats hoping for the lesser of two evils. Clearly, the vice president would be far more competent and “would make the country safer.” A former congressman and governor with 16 years in government, Pence is sane, thoughtful, and infinitely less likely to blunder into a nuclear war; unlike the president, he has also “read the Constitution.” Granted, he’d be “the most conservative president of modern times,” an evangelical Christian “fiercely opposed to abortion, gay marriage,” and the expansion of LGBT rights. But given the risks of an unstable, authoritarian Trump, “I’d opt for President Pence—the sooner the better.”
If Pence does becomes president, said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com, the Left will lead us in a national chorus of “Whew! Back to normal.’” But their welcome will be short-lived. As soon as Pence takes the oath, progressives will denounce him as “a dangerous theocrat who hates women, minorities, and gays.” His principled opposition to abortion will be framed as “a supreme danger to women’s health.” He’ll be labeled a freakish misogynist “because he declines to have boozy one-onone dinners with women other than his wife.” But liberals can’t have it both ways. If Trump represents “a unique threat to democracy” because he’s not an ordinary Republican, Pence can’t be intolerable because he is.
Democrats should indeed welcome President Pence, said Jeet Heer in NewRepublic.com. Smooth as he is, he’ll take over a broken Republican Party embroiled in a civil war between far-right ideologues, moderates—and a new faction: disaffected Trumpists, feeling “they’ve been betrayed.” With 30 million Twitter followers and TV networks clamoring for interviews, Trump himself would “go nuclear, attempting to take the party down with him.” Meanwhile, the Russia investigation “would hardly disappear,” said Matt Latimer in Politico.com. Would Pence pardon the disgraced president, as Gerald Ford did after Watergate? Indeed, was Pence himself present at “meetings that might draw congressional or lawenforcement scrutiny?” When Ford took office after Nixon resigned, “he declared, ‘Our long national nightmare is over.’ But it really wasn’t”— and it won’t be if Trump is forced to leave office. ■