Is this news? Mike Pence “seized the spotlight” in DC this weekend when he “slammed former president Donald Trump in what amounts to his strongest criticism to date of his former running mate.”
Of course Pence did. He is, for the time being, running for president. Naturally he is going to set his sights on the the biggest beast in the room. And that beast, in case you haven’t noticed, is Donald Trump. (And, really, can’t Politico do better than “former running mate”?)
Pence, having himself been subpoenaed by the January 6 Entertainment Committee (he doesn’t plan to testify) is nervous about his role in that jamboree. And, no dummy, he understands that blaming Donald Trump for the protest at the Capitol is a sort of rite de passage, a ritual genuflection, for aspiring politicians.
“History will hold Donald Trump accountable for January 6,” Pence crackled. “Make no mistake about it: what happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way. President Trump was wrong. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.”
Well, mocking decency or not, Trump knocked the birdie back over the badminton net when he was in Iowa on Monday. “Had he sent the votes back to the legislatures,” Trump said, “they wouldn’t have had a problem with January 6, so in many ways you can blame him for January 6. Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe, number one, you would have had a different outcome. But I also believe you wouldn’t have had ‘January 6’ as we call it.”
Was Trump right? Opinions vary. I do not claim to know myself. Legal experts differ sharply on exactly what the vice president’s prerogatives are when called upon to oversee the counting of the electoral votes.
January 6 has been endlessly anatomized — I’ve added my bits to the autopsy, most recently in my conversation with the Speccie’s Freddy Gray. Opinions vary about that, too, and sharply. Mike Pence is a major player regardless, something I suspect he wishes to forget and wishes, moreover, that you will not even take time to consider.
For now, he will get his wish. Everyone who is interested in the Republican nomination will be taking aim at the Big Guy — the other Big Guy, not Joe Biden but Donald Trump. Pence, DeSantis, Haley and Pompeo for sure and possibly another handful need oxygen. Trump consumes about 85 percent of it, DeSantis currently has about 12 percent piped in. That doesn’t leave a lot for the also-rans.
Mike Pence strikes me a a very decent man, something that cannot be said of most politicians. I remember, however, a saying of Horace Walpole’s: “No country was ever saved by good men, because good men will not go to the length that may be necessary.” Not upbeat, not edifying, but it is probably true.
Which is one reason we won’t be hearing about Mike Pence for very long.