Saturday, May 27, 2017

Why We Do Not Want Mike Pence as President

As much as the nation needs Donald Trump removed from the office of the presidency, the big worry is that Mike Pence, an ignorance embracing evangelical Christian and bigot, might be his replacement unless we are lucky enough to have pence also caught up in the Russiagate scandal.  For LGBT Americans, Pence poses a special threat given his record of anti-LGBT bigotry, including signing a falsely named "religious freedom" law while governor of Indiana.  But others need to worry about what this closed minded religious zealot might push as his agenda.  The New York Times has a very unflattering piece on Pence.  Here are excerpts:
Mr. Pence’s great appeal to many people now is that he is not Donald Trump. Liberals salivate that Robert Mueller might metaphorically reverse an election they see as stolen by a steak salesman and his Moscow buddies. Conservatives dream of ridding themselves of a nutbag and installing a man who can pursue tax cuts and a few more Justice Neil Gorsuches without the fear of a third world war being started because of something Mr. Trump heard on Infowars.
Still, maybe we should all stop and ponder an actual Pence presidency.
It is possible that we could replace the most flamboyant and flamboyantly unqualified president in history with the most quietly unqualified and unexamined president since Warren Harding. (He has never answered whether he believes in evolution, but the evidence is not encouraging.)
Mr. Trump was the bloated Macy’s parade float that no one thought had a chance, and not a lot of time was spent investigating his generic sidekick holding the ropes.
Mr. Pence was elected governor of Indiana in 2012 with less than 50 percent of the vote. Many of the politicos I talked to in Indiana described him as ambitious for the sake of ambition, with no ideological compass other than his evangelical Christianity. They thought that, unlike the previous governor, Mitch Daniels, Mr. Pence was interested in the job mainly to check off executive experience on his presidential-candidate résumé.
He certainly couldn’t stress his 12 years in Congress — an earlier congressional bid exploded when he used campaign funds to pay his mortgage — where he passed exactly zero bills that became law but frequently introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Pence wrote in 2001 that the link between smoking and cancer was not proved, but during the 2012 campaign he hid his paleo-conservative views, talking instead of getting Indiana back to work. He pivoted after taking charge.
In 2015, conservative activists pressured Indiana legislators to introduce the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a bill that would make it easier for Indiana business owners to discriminate against gays if it offended their religious beliefs. Mr. Pence stood on the sidelines as the bill was constructed and signed the legislation in private. He then released a photograph of the signing that was so dumbfounding that Indiana State Representative Ed DeLaney, a Democrat, was accused of Photoshopping it by his colleagues when he circulated it. The photo showed Mr. Pence, pen in hand, surrounded by nuns and monks and three conservative backers, each with violently anti-gay beliefs. Immediately, corporations and convention groups threatened to pull business out of Indianapolis, a move that could have cost the state millions.
The controversy metastasized. . . . . . Mr. Stephanopoulos gave Mr. Pence two chances to say he was not in favor of discrimination against gay people. He declined and pronounced he would not revise the law.
This did not sit well back home in Indiana. Legislative leaders met to work their way out of the political disaster and Mr. Pence wasn’t invited. A compromise was reached that pleased no one but was mushy enough that the tourists came back. Mr. Pence signed the bill and slipped out of the statehouse without taking any questions.
“America needs to understand that this is what they’re going to get,” said Scott Pelath, the Democratic House minority leader. “He is not going to look at something, assess it, think critically about it and go.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act had killed Mr. Pence’s presidential dreams; now he was trying to hang on to his day job. In April, he was booed at the home opener of the Indianapolis Indians, the city’s AAA team, shortly after he signed a restrictive anti-abortion bill. A May poll found the governor and his Democratic opponent in a statistical dead heat.
On July 15, Mr. Trump threw Mr. Pence the life preserver. The Indiana governor gave Mr. Trump cover with the Christian right. And Mr. Pence proved to have something in common with Mr. Trump: Most observers thought he won the vice-presidential debate with Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia by sticking to his talking points, no matter their relationship with reality. (PolitiFact ruled that over 40 percent of Mr. Pence’s statements were either false or mostly false.)
Mr. Pence has done little as vice president to suggest he is rising to the occasion. As head of the transition committee, he was either (a) kept in the dark about Michael Flynn’s being investigated for his international ties or (b) lied about it. Neither is a comforting thought. Both are totally him.
The only certainty of a Pence presidency is a Christian conservative bias for judges who will make Americans long for the relatively sane Justice Gorsuch.
Do I think Mike Pence is less likely to start a nuclear war than Donald Trump or to throw a reporter in jail over a Twitter beef about his daughter’s shoe line? Absolutely. There is that upside.
Let's hope and pray that Russiagate takes down Pence too.  The man is a menace, albeit a different sort of menace than Der Trumpenführer. 

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