Maybe Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump picked his Vice-chair to balance off his vocabulary. Mike Pence does know more words and is better at articulating them than the head of the ticket. Maybe he picked him for his stoic demeanor. Pence does have the pious expression of a Catholic priest coupled with the “I have no regrets, you deserve this, I am only doing my civic duty” look of a death row executioner. Or maybe Trump thought Pence could make up for his shocking lack of knowledge on policies.
But many critics consider the former governor of Indiana as a risky or even riskier choice than Trump. An MSNBC headline Tuesday read “seeing Mike Pence as ‘normal’ is to grade on a generous curve.” Another headline asks if Pence “had too much baggage” to run with Trump.
Will Tuesday’s VP debate on CNN reveal a more human side of Pence? No one knows but what is known about the second chair is frightening to many voters, especially his far right wing ideological stance on a host of issues. In fact, he may be more severe than Trump.
MS-NBC’s Rachel Maddow did an expose’ on Pence even before Trump chose him as his sidekick and trashed him royally over his poor handling of his “religious liberty” policy. She called his bungling of the backlash over the measure a “a personally disastrous moment for him as a leader.”
The ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act that had all eyes on Indiana and critics calling for a boycott, was Pence agreeing with a measure blatantly designed to discriminate against gay couples in that state. It gave merchants the right to refuse service to gay folks based on their religious beliefs. He might as well have erected a sign at the state line declaring “we don’t serve gays here, so keep it moving.”
As Maddow said, not only was this law disastrous on policy grounds, but it was disastrous politically and fiscally. Pence signed it anyway, even when other states like Arizona had vetoed it, then buckled when he had his moment in the spotlight to shine; show America how he stood tall under pressure as a leader. Pressure he had created in the first place and which could have been avoided had he paid attention.
On July 14th, the host showed video of the governor at a press conference, standing mute for almost a minute before the microphone because he couldn’t handle the fallout from that discriminatory bill he signed into law surrounded by smiling nuns and other clergy in 2015. Separation of church and state anyone?
That press conference was a crucial moment for Pence and he came up sorely lacking as a leader. Amid the loud clamor of his constituents to “Fix This Now”—an actual headline of the leading newspaper in his state—Pence stepped on to the national stage.
But watching him just stand there during a time when his mettle was tested, was stunningly painful to see. If this is how he operated in a crisis, the country should be royally scared with him coupled with the brash billionaire. He was even breathing heavily and sniffing like Trump did during his recent debate with Hillary Clinton.
Many who support Trump look to Pence as the grownup in the room; as the steady calm hand, the experienced politician to his first mate’s woeful inexperience and volatility. But that moment showed us that he wasn’t any of those things despite his 12 years in congress and 4 as governor.
Maddow also gave a brief bio of the governor, showing how he started out as a conservative radio host in Indiana, had a string of losses trying to get into that state’s legislature, to finally winning a seat in Congress in 2000, where he remained for 12 years.
Not to cast aspersions, but during those 12 years, he never passed a single bill. Not doing much in congress worked, for his inaction launched him to the governor’s mansion in 2012.
Then he goes to Indiana and practiced trampling the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. A dry run for what he plans to execute in Washington so close to the president’s ear?
And gay rights aren’t the only ones Pence wants to trample. His stance on other issues will scare the pants off ya.
Pence thinks black Americans are too concerned about racism. They focus too much on little things like being shot dead by police more than any other group in this country. Forget about chanting “Black Lives Matter” and crying out for justice and equality. Move on people. We have more important things to worry about—like banning gays from having the same rights as every other American.
Pence signed the most austere abortion bill into law in Indiana, restricting abortions even when genetic abnormality is evident. The law called for aborted fetal tissue to be cremated or buried. Talk about the Taliban coming to America by way of Indiana.
Good old religious conservative Pence also led the fight on those places of evil—you know Planned Parenthood clinics helping poor women and their families. He was so successful in shutting down most of that state’s clinics, that he reportedly caused an H.I.V. epidemic in one county.
His stance on immigration rivals that of running mate Trump and he once opposed a bill in congress that would help those suffering from HIV and AIDS, unless lawmakers agreed to include measures “to pray away the gay”—that is, discourage same-sex relationships.
The list of Pence’s stringent, restrictive, Taliban-style stance is long and winding. He is starting to make Trump look like the reasonably one with his jail for women who have abortions, building a wall at the Mexican border and the execution of terrorists’ family.
Moreover, these two nominees on the Republican ticket act strong and exude machismo but fold under pressure–Pence at that press conference and Trump while in Mexico on his foreign policy trip—remember his muted press conference where he didn’t bring up his famous wall and then lying about not bringing it up afterwards?
God help us all if that duo reaches the White House.