In yesterday’s post, I laid out the grim circumstances vis-à-vis a possible impeachment of President Trump. I take no joy from such guesswork, but I think that even if you are a blind Trump worshipper, the possibility has to impinge on your thought processes by now that the man is a walking disaster as President of the United States; whether he is temperamentally unsuited to the job, mentally not quite up to it, or just too devil-may-care for the awesome responsibilities, he is not a good president. What’s more, I sense no desire in the man to “grow into” the job. For all of you who think that being the head honcho of a family business enterprise is a good way to prepare to be President of the United States (and leader of the Free World), I beg you to look at the results.
Today’s news brings even more reason to suppose that the Trump/Russia/Comey saga will turn out to be even more of a whack-a-mole game wherein each time Trump tries to bash some emerging scandal, another just crops up. One consequence of advancing age is that “everything old is new again,” and I am eerily reminded of something from a time when I had much more hair and much less worldly experience—a steady drip-drip of scandal that came to be called Watergate and came to cost Richard Nixon the White House. All the same, I do not see Trump being impeached by the current Congress, as I explained yesterday. I would not be surprised, though, by Trump’s resignation at some point (or removal via the 25th Amendment), which leads to the same end: Mike Pence is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
Who is Mike Pence? You probably know he was the Governor of Indiana, but before that, did you follow his career at all? I will present no brilliant insight here, only a boring list of the things he did or signed into law as the chief executive of that state. It’s all a matter of public record. You can even find it through Wikipedia. But once I had read through it all, I had the sinking feeling of knowing that a Pence presidency will not end the country’s struggles, and it may make the whole things worse.
In capsule form, then:
Mike Pence, the grandson of Irish immigrants, was, in his earlier life, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic. He graduated from the University of Indiana’s law school in 1986. During his college years at Hanover he converted to evangelical Christianity and to Reagan-inspired “conservatism.” He was in private legal practice for two years before deciding to run for Congress in 1988 at age 29. He lost. Two years later, he ran again, and lost again. He spent 1991-93 as president of an Indiana “think tank” closely linked to the Heritage Foundation, that well-known reactionary, oops, “conservative” national think tank that loves to hinder the power of government at every level to work for things like a higher minimum wage and regulation of pollution, etc., that it regards as necessary byproducts of modern society. Lower corporate taxes are another of its favorite causes.
Pence left that position to go full-time into “conservative” talk radio as host of his own show, where he billed himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.” He continued his radio gigs until 1999. At some point in the 1990’s (I don’t care enough to find the particular dates) it became known that Pence, during his Congressional campaigns, had used donated campaign funds to pay for a host of personal expenses. Such diversion of campaign donations was found not to be in violation of the law at the time, though it did damage his campaign and his reputation, In 2000, after Indiana had undergone redistricting, and the boundaries and numeration of its Congressional districts were different from those of his earlier runs, he ran again, and this time, he won.
Pence served in Congress from 2001 to 2013, and in 2006, associated himself with the “Tea Party” faction of the Republican Party. In that year, he ran against John Boehner for leadership of the Republican caucus and was soundly defeated. In his dozen years in Congress, he introduced 90 bills and resolutions. None became law. In 2010, he was the top choice for President by the Values Voters Summit, that collection of voters who seek commitment by political figures to stop social change through government action on matters such as drug legalization, LGBT issues, and abortion.
2012 saw Pence declare for the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana. He won the republican nomination, and then went on to win the General Election with 49.1 % of the vote in a reliably “red” state.
So Pence’s term as Governor ran from 2013 to 2017. The list of accomplishments of that term include the following:
Reducing college and university funding in Indiana.
Reducing funding for Family and Social Services.
Reducing funding for the Department of Corrections.
Overseeing a job growth rate in Indiana that lagged the national rate.
Killing Indiana’s inheritance tax.
Cutting business taxes in several categories, a favorite Heritage Foundation position which supposedly improves business climate in a state and leads businesses from other states to relocate. Job creation did not respond, and Carrier Corp. resisted Pence’s entreaties to maintain its manufacturing in the state. Later, Trump joined in this effort, and let him and Pence argue that they had “saved” Carrier jobs in Indiana. Nonetheless, many Carrier jobs were lost, along with several million tax dollars in “incentives” given to Carrier in the deal.
Sought increased funding for charter schools and voucher programs.
Declared Indiana to be a “pro-coal state” and resisted the “overreach” of EPA clean air standards.
Defunded Planned Parenthood clinics, even those that did not furnish abortion services.
Signed and defended a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which critics said was designed to let businesses and private individuals discriminate legally against LGBT persons. Later, faced with the possible loss of millions of dollars in convention business and business expansion, he backed down and signed a revised law.
Signed a controversial abortion restriction measure which would have required, among other things, burial or cremation for any “remains” after an abortion procedure. It was struck down soon thereafter.
Attempted to ban resettlement of refugees from Syria within Indiana.
There’s more, but if by now (or maybe a while ago) you got the idea that Pence is one more reactionary who talks calmly and works for an agenda of restrictions on personal liberty, lack of restrictions and low taxes on corporations, I’m with you. I do not want to see President Pence, but I’m afraid that’s where we’re headed.