I love it when holders of high office who are arrogant, vain and disdainful suddenly decide that they need to stress one other quality to the voters: their humility.
If Mike Pence were an act, nobody could play him better than Mike Pence.
As the right-wing Republican governor of Indiana since 2013, Pence has now decided to sacrifice the pleasures of Indianapolis to be Donald Trump’s running mate.
“For those of you who don’t know me, which is most of you,” Pence said, Trump made his selection for one reason:
Trump is a man known for his “large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma,” Pence said, “so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.”
And then a crowd, still raw from booing the eminently booable Ted Cruz, actually burst out laughing.
The joke had worked. And Pence plunged on with a life story so full of hayseed that only Frank Capra could have done it justice.
He said he was raised in a small town in Indiana “with a cornfield in the backyard,” failing to point out that most of Indiana has a cornfield in the backyard.
His grandfather had emigrated from Ireland to the South Side of Chicago, where he drove a bus. His father “was a combat veteran in Korea.” He said, “If Dad were with us today, I have a feeling he’d enjoy this moment and probably be pretty surprised.”
But his mother was in the hall, he said, as throats started to choke up just a little, and he told everyone, “Join me in welcoming the light of my life, my mom, Nancy.”
His mother stood up and waved a small wave, and Pence said that 31 years ago, he married the girl of his dreams, who was also there.
But wait! There was more! “The most important job I’ll ever have is spelled D-A-D,” he said. And if you weren’t sobbing as the camera showed his family, well, you were not human.
His boyhood heroes had been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy; as an Irish Catholic of his generation, it was practically a law to have Kennedy as a boyhood hero.
And then one day, he heard a politician give a speech. That politician was Ronald Reagan, and Pence knew he was going to be a Republican forevermore.
And he would also be a man of faith. As a Catholic, he took his religion very seriously, and when he became an evangelical Catholic in college, it practically broke his mother’s heart. But he did what he knew he had to do.
He did not know exactly what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew all was possible “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Somebody ought to check that for plagiarism, by the way. It sounds a little too slick to me.
Today Pence has “faith that God can still heal our land,” and, he said, our land needs it.
Trump is “a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers,” he said, and “while Donald Trump was taking my measure as a possible running mate, I did some observing myself. … He can be a little rough with politicians on the stage,” Pence said, “and I’ll bet we see that again.”
And the audience laughed again. A few minutes later, Pence let loose with his line of the evening.
“When Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America,” he said, “the change will be yuge!”
Pence beat up on Hillary Clinton a little, but it was nothing compared with the attacks she had suffered at this convention thus far, including one apparent death threat by a delegate from New Hampshire. (The Secret Service is investigating.)
“It was Hillary Clinton who left Americans in harm’s way in Benghazi and, after four Americans fell, said, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?'” Pence continued, “Anyone who said that, anyone who did that should be disqualified from ever serving as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States of America.”
Pence also hit on the vulnerability that Clinton’s campaign is well aware of. “Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything this country is tired of,” he said.
There were probably many reasons Trump staffers settled on Mike Pence. They were certain, for instance, that a guy like Pence would never outshine the top of the ticket.
They may have gotten that one wrong.
Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: DonkeyHotey