Friday, July 15, 2016

Donald Trump and the Incurious Mike Pence:

While The Donald is claiming that he has not yet selected his VP running mate, most speculation is that it will be Indiana governor Mike Pence - a man who is no friend to the LGBT community and who set off a fire storm with corporate America when he signed Indiana's falsely named "religious freedom" law last year.  Naturally, given the GOP's most extreme and anti-gay platform every, Pence is the choice of most Christofascists, including those here in Virginia who often rally under the flag of The Family Foundation, a hate group in all but formal designation.  A piece in Salon looks at Pence and why he is a perfect fit for Trump's racist and xenophobic agenda.  Here are excerpts:
A lowly pool has been reduced to four B-list candidates: Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and Jeff Sessions, three of whom found their way to Indianapolis on Wednesday (Christie reportedly spoke with Trump over the phone). You could make a case for all four. As I wrote last week, both Newt and Christie are plagued by scandals (much like Trump) and have bottomed out as politicians. Neither has much to lose at this point, which makes joining Trump’s dumpster fire campaign less risky. Sessions is a largely unknown conservative senator from Alabama. An anti-immigration culture warrior, he was among the first Republicans to publicly endorse Trump. But he’s the obvious outsider here. Of the final four, Sessions seems least likely to get the nod.
Although it’s still unofficial, The Washington Post is reporting that Pence is the pick. If true, that makes the most sense for Trump, and here’s why.
 First, we have to remember that Trump’s campaign is essentially a TV production. As such, he needs a hype man, someone who can pump propaganda without overshadowing the star of the show.
. . . The Republican nominee wants an “attack dog,” but not someone who can upstage him. Both Gingrich and Christie, in their own ways, are capable of this.
Pence, however, appears quite comfortable playing second fiddle, and he clearly wants the job. He’s prostrated himself before Trump, lobbying about as hard as any candidate I’ve seen. And his Twitter feed is littered with over-the-top pleas. . . . Normally, VP nominees feign indifference, dismissing inquiries or referring reporters to the presidential candidates. The idea is to express interest without careening into desperation. But this is not how Pence rolls. . . . Right out of the gate, Pence lavished praise on Trump, making it all about him.
 If Pence believes Trump is the greatest leader since Reagan, why did he endorse Ted Cruz for president 10 weeks ago? Trump “never turned his back on Main Street”? We know Trump loves “the poorly educated,” but I doubt that’s what Pence means by “Main Street.” We know Trump has outsourced much of his labor in order to cut costs and avoid paying American workers a livable wage. Was that a boon for “Main Street?” We know that Trump inherited $40 million dollars from his father and has now convinced hordes of working-class whites that he feels their pain and knows their struggle. Perhaps that’s what Pence is referencing here. . . . The goal was to show Trump how effectively he can wag the pom poms. On that score, he succeeded. There’s another, perhaps more obvious reason why Pence wants this job: He might lose his. After his disastrous attempt to impose the anti-LGBT Religious Freedom Restoraction Act on Indianans in 2015, Pence’s popularity has plummeted. Even the business community turned against him. According to a May poll, his approval rating is down to 40 percent, with only 60 percent of Republicans supporting his re-election. The Indiana GOP would be happy to dispense with Pence and make way for a more attractive candidate.
In any event, a man this shameless in his pursuit of the nomination suits Trump well. Trump likes lackeys, and he appears to have found one in Pence. And because he’s staring down defeat in his home state, a VP nomination is an escape hatch for the Indiana governor, a chance to skirt failure and boost his national brand. Pence is also a safe pick with less baggage than Newt and Christie and a fair amount of experience on Capitol Hill. In addition to bowing to Trump, he’ll appeal to social conservatives and bring message discipline to a campaign without any.
So Pence might not be the sexiest pick for Trump, but he’s the safest. And considering the paucity of respectable candidates willing to stand on a stage with Trump, this is as good as it gets.

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