Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this administration…
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer just released a profile on Vice President* Mike “I Call My Wife Mother” Pence, which is about as unsurprisingly disturbing as you might expect. I won’t horrify you with too many details; if you’re in the mood for a proper TL;DR hate read, that link is your for the clicking. But I’d like to direct your attention to a particular paragraph near the end of the piece that is particularly illuminating for a number of disturbing reasons:
Trump thinks Pence is great,” Bannon told me. But, according to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
Honestly, you can skip the rest of the profile; this is the important part. Obviously the critical takeaway is an incredibly revealing glimpse into the depths of Pence’s anti-LGBTQ fanaticism by way of Trump’s typically boorish remarks. Regardless of how seriously a comment like Pence wanting to “hang them all” should be taken, there’s no denying that the nation’s top theocrat has had a hair up his ass (among other things, perhaps? #justsaying) for the Rainbow Coalition for a long time now.
Among the more notorious efforts of his Indiana gubernatorial run was 2015’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state. The backlash against the bill was massive, forcing even his own supporters in the legislature against him and nearly tanking his political career. Mayer writes that according to hate-wing radio host Steve Deace, Pence “had no chance at national office after that, other than getting on the Trump ticket.” Lucky for him, that particular gravy train pulled into the station not long after.
But there’s another aspect of this that I’d like to direct your attention to, which is what the president*’s remarks reveal not about Pence, but about himself and his relationship with the glassy-eyed zealots that have set aside everything holy in their support for him. Not that this is terribly surprising to hear, but the only chance of reaffirming that Trump is not in fact the Second Coming Of Moses is to repeat observations like these as often and as loudly as possible.
For example: Trump riding Pence for having “wasted all this time and energy” on overturning Roe V. Wade makes it crystal clear that Donald Trump could give a shit about challenging abortion rights, which is the one issue above any others that Pence built his career on. Over the years, he’s backed so-called “personhood” legislation banning all abortions, including in the case of rape and or incest; he sponsored an ACA amendment to allow government-funded hospitals to deny abortion coverage’ he even once signed a bill that barred women from abortion fetuses with developmental disabilities. As if that isn’t heinous enough, the bill also required that all aborted fetuses be either buried or cremated, at the mother’s expense. It’s since been ruled constitutional, but…yeesh.
With everyone now taking bets on how long until he’s discovered stumbling through the West Wing talking to potted plants about what a cuck Grover Norquist is, a whole lot of eyes are nervously eyeing Pence’s potential succession with increasing seriousness. As the Martin to Trump’s Lewis, he’s done a great job of making himself appear, well…sane for starters, along with eminently reasonable by contrast. But make no mistake: the nation’s top theocrat has had his eyes on the POTUS prize for a very long time, and while he might feel constrained enough by the office to not behave like an adolescent baboon once installed, he’s also savvy enough and savage enough to work the levers of executive power in ways that Trump could never dream of. And the way will be more than clear enough for him to do so, if out of nothing other than sheer gratitude that ding, dong, that big orange bitch is dead.
This was originally posted on Pink Elephants.