Friday, May 11, 2018

George Will: Pence, the Worst Person in Washington

Over the years at times I have seen political pundit George Will as more and more extreme and damaging to the concept of "conservative" political thought.  That said, compared to pretty much all of the Republican Party and the racists and religious extremists that now comprise the bulk of the GOP base, George Will nonetheless comes across as a true conservative of the old mold.  Mr. Will reflects a time when honor, honesty, and a measure of decency still counted for something within the Republican Party.  As Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell drag the Republican Party and conservatism in general further and further into the moral and ethical cesspool, a small rear guard of conservatives of the old mold struggle to resist the moral disintegration of conservatism.  Part of this effort involves calling out  those doing incalculable harm to the nation and society.  In a Washington Post column, Will calls out a man in some ways more sinister and dangerous that Trump himself: Mike Pence, a man who feigns piety yet turns a blind eye to immoral and illegal conduct.  Two telling sentences:  "Trump is what he is,  . . . . which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying."  Here are more column highlights: 
Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing.
Last June, a Trump Cabinet meeting featured testimonials offered to Dear Leader by his forelock-tugging colleagues. . . . . The vice president chimed in but saved his best riff for a December Cabinet meeting when, as The Post’s Aaron Blake calculated, Pence praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes . . . .
Between those two Cabinet meetings, Pence and his retinue flew to Indiana for the purpose of walking out of an Indianapolis Colts football game, thereby demonstrating that football players kneeling during the national anthem are intolerable to someone of Pence’s refined sense of right and wrong. Which brings us to his Arizona salute last week to Joe Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County until in 2016 voters wearied of his act.
Arpaio, a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices. Pence’s performance occurred eight miles from the home of Sen. John McCain, who could teach Pence — or perhaps not — something about honor.
Henry Adams said that “practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” but what was the practicality in Pence’s disregard of the facts about Arpaio? His pandering had no purpose beyond serving Pence’s vocation, which is to ingratiate himself with his audience of the moment. 
[O]n Jan. 27, 1838, Lincoln, then 28, delivered his first great speech, to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield. Less than three months earlier, Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist newspaper editor in Alton, Ill., 67 miles from Springfield, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. Without mentioning Lovejoy — it would have been unnecessary — Lincoln lamented that throughout America, “so lately famed for love of law and order,” there was a “mobocratic spirit” among “the vicious portion of [the] population.” . . . . Pence, one of evangelical Christians’ favorite pin-ups, genuflects at various altars, as the mobocratic spirit and the vicious portion require.
It is said that one cannot blame people who applaud Arpaio and support his rehabilitators (Trump, Pence, et al.), because, well, globalization or health-care costs or something. Actually, one must either blame them or condescend to them as lacking moral agency. Republicans silent about Pence have no such excuse.
There will be negligible legislating by the next Congress, so ballots cast this November will be most important as validations or repudiations of the harmonizing voices of Trump, Pence, Arpaio and the like. Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.
As dangerous as Trump is, Pence is perhaps the more sinister evil.  BOTH Trump and Pence need to be taken down by the Russiagate/obstruction of justice/Michael Cohen investigations. 

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