Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

WASHINGTON — The honorable Mike Pence is my neighbor, living in the huge white Naval Observatory residence a few blocks down Massachusetts Avenue.

It’s strictly a temporary stop on the way to a sweet stone period pile on 16th and Pennsylvania.

Primed and ready, Pence is acting presidential, learning his lines, much like the senior statesman he never was. Donald Trump’s reign, volatile and fragile, has left an opening for mild-mannered but ambitious Pence, 58, to seamlessly slip through.

Shakespeare would be impressed. Not bad for an Indiana boy following Dan Quayle’s footsteps.

Grumpy bad cop Trump is distracted by the Russian investigation and other fronts — now battling a record low 33 percent approval rating.

Good cop Pence pursues his own agenda with that Lego-like haircut. They say he has an affinity for calling his wife “Mother.” Oh brother.

For now, the vice president lives in shipshape digs within shouting distance. He’s not exactly the boy next door. Pence’s regal comings and goings, with full dress Secret Service and Metropolitan police escorts, cause more flashing sirens and traffic closures at rush hours than the neighborhood recalls. Past Vice Presidents Joseph Biden, Al Gore and Dick Cheney weren’t loud and showy.

Diplomats at the nearby Norwegian and British Embassies are probably too polite to complain about the intrusions to quality of life on the lovely meandering hill down to Dupont Circle, Rock Creek Park and Capitol Hill.

Speaking of Capitol Hill, Pence spends time there, hobnobbing with the legislative branch. Here again, he’s breaking china, unwritten Washington customs. The three branches of American government — the executive, judiciary and Congress — are supposed to be separate.

Remember, Mike, those lessons we learned in school? An archconservative, Pence was once a member of the House, but never the Senate. But now, it’s like he’s fraternity president. In fact, he’s officially president of the Senate, under the Constitution, but votes only to break ties if necessary.

It’s inside baseball, but the Senate Republicans and Democrats have Tuesday party lunches to huddle and strategize in secret. When I was a rookie reporter covering these lunches, it was a special event to see the White House show up, either President Clinton or Vice President Gore.

Here’s the thing: Pence is guest of honor at the Republican Party lunch more often than not. That’s a culture change right under the Capitol radar.

Does he play the heavy? Next to trashy Trump, anyone would seem genteel. Dusted with silver hair to match his silver tongue, Pence is defining himself as a pleasant force — yet a potent one — compared to his boss.

Manners matter. After the divisive election a year ago, Pence displayed civility when the cast of “Hamilton” made a statement from the stage, an appeal for the arts and diversity. Pence said nothing from the audience. But he listened. Trump, who was not there, blasted the actors and demanded an apology.

I say, good for Pence, for attending the hit Broadway musical celebrating the brash immigrant and constitutional genius. (I saw the show the next night and heard the buzz.) Our bumpkin Trump does not go in for theater, symphony or opera. “Fox & Friends” is too enthralling.

Pence’s stage clue, or “tell,” came when he stepped onto the sacrosanct Senate floor to elbow Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., on a major vote past midnight. Repealing Obamacare could not have been closer. Ailing from brain cancer surgery, McCain refused to bow to Pence’s pressure and cast a thumbs-down vote that saved Obamacare.

This was the most breathtaking political theater of the year. Pence did not belong there, and I’m sure McCain did not like it. But when you’re a usurper, that’s what you do. Pence sought the hero role, to break a tie.

A violent history hangs over a House member stepping onto the Senate floor. Before the Civil War, a South Carolina slavery zealot “caned” and beat Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts abolitionist.

We know Pence and Trump are sworn enemies of women’s rights, liberties and privacy. Given that, who’s worse? You tell me.

To my neighbor: Keep up the good work; you’ll be moving downtown any day now.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

 

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7 responses to “Mike Pence Ready For Presidential Broadway”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    As embarrassing and dangerous as Trump is, he may be preferable to Pence. If nothing else because the latter has a functioning brain, and because as opposed to his boss, he is a true ideologue who, if he rises to the top, would be able to rally ALL Republicans behind him.

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    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Anyone who was a member of the Trump campaign staff is suspect in the investigation of Russian meddling. To try and play that “I didn’t know” card is already showing the foolishness of that attempt at innocence.

      The key campaign members were Pence, Priebus, Sessions, Lewandowski, Flynn, Manafort, Don Jr. and Kushner.

  2. dbtheonly says:

    Trump makes anyone look good in comparison. But that should not blind us to Pence’s hard line ideology. All the more dangerous for not having Trump’s self-destructive attributes.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Pence will never be president. The reality is that the very core of the Special Counsel’s investigation is the Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Normally, if a president must be removed from office, his campaign is still considered legitimate if his removal is far “removed” from his election to office. Such as with Nixon and WaterGate. Nixon’s VP didn’t become president mainly because he also knew about the WaterGate burglary.

    Gerald Ford became Nixon’s VP only 9 months before the worst scandal in Republican History. So, he served out Nixon’s term but was not referred to as “president.” Ford had to run for election to earn that title. In reality, Ford replaced Nixon’s VP, Spiro Agnew.

    Pence is believed to be involved in Trump’s campaign as a campaign supervisor and therefore would all too clearly have known about the Russian interference. That will eventually come out in Mueller’s investigation.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Ms. E, Jerry Ford became Vice President as an offshoot scandal. VP Agnew was taking cash kickbacks. It was well into the Watergate Scandal, not 9 months before it. Then again, depending on how you define things, Watergate ran for over two years.

      President Ford was referred to as President Ford by the major news services. He ran in ‘76 and we had a laugh as he tried to fudge the fact that he wasn’t running for “re-election”.

      I’ll bet that Pence is the Republican Nominee for President in ‘20 or ‘24. Not sure he wins. The Trump damage may be too great.

      But yesterday shows what happens when Democrats vote in an off year election. Let’s keep it up in ‘18.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        I wasn’t implying that Ford took office 9 months before WaterGate. I was stating when he took office during the Nixon Administration. What I recall most about Ford is that he was such an akward bumbler.

        Pence will be as gone as Trump if Mueller can link Pence to that April 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians. Pence is as guilty as Trump. That he plays his okee doke dumb bunny role in public is just an act.

        I was totally floored that VA swept their state election and added more Dems to Congress.

        Why does Trump think that of the 4 states all 4 elected Republicans? VA, NY, NJ and IL all went blue. Not red.

        Did you by any chance catch the House Ways and Means Committee on CSpan for the Tax Reform markup? OMG! It was a doozy.

        The next time anyway says the Dems are not in their fighting like hell, they showed watch the Congressional sessions on CSpan.

        Words from House Dems thrown in the faces of the GOP like, “ignorant,” “stupid,” “liars” and double taxation, were only the tip of the iceberg.

        I never ever remember Dems getting so fired up as during this House Session. Good thing Ryan wasn’t there for the fun and games.

        The Dems who fought like hell against the tax reform plan are:
        John Larson, D-CT, Earl Blumenauer (a hugely intelligent guy with ace accounting knowledge) D-Oregon, Brian Higgins D-NY, Joe Crowley, D-NY, Judy Chu D-CT, Dr. Danny Davis, D-IL, Sander Levin, D-MI. Ron Kind, D-WI, Richard Neal, D-MA and my own NJ Rep. Bill Pascrell who invoked an amendment to the tax bill that was seconded by all of those from the states with the highest taxes.

        What was so amazing was that two of the Republican supporters of Trump’s tax bill in the House, Thomas Reed R-NY and Mike Kelley R-Pa ending up being made to look like fools for their double talk. Kelly claims that 50% of those who itemize their tax bills are all 1%ers.

        But Rep. Levin reminded this fool that the morning testimony from Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff Thomas Barthold who unwittingly testified to the contrary of what the Republicans were trying to push through.

        It was a wild meeting with the GOP like Brady from TX sitting there smug as he pleased trying to pull off a piece of legislation that had only been brought to Dem yesterday morning. Ref: http://www.businessinsider.com/tax-reform-markup-republicans-props-2017-11.

        Rep. Neal had to remind the two Republicans who went into another of the Hillary uranium, Clinton Foundation tirades, that the meeting was on the Republicans “pushing this tax bill that only they have seen.”

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