I can barely process the daily horrors Donald Trump inflicts on Americans every day. He acts out of boredom, out of spite, out of negligence, out of ignorance, out of hatred, bigotry and insanity. We talk all the time about independent counsel Robert Mueller and the very real possibility that Donald Trump could be impeached, or maybe even step down because he literally hates his life in the White House. If and when that happens, we will have to contend with a President Mike Pence. We’ve known this whole time that Pence has never had clean hands when it comes to Russia, when it comes to the corruption in the campaign and all of that. We know he’s a homophobe, a misogynist, a corporate stooge and a creep. But I’ll say this about Pence: he wouldn’t tweet us into war. He’s a cold-blooded snake, but he would likely be just an old-fashioned, far-right president who doesn’t throw Twitter tantrums on a daily basis.
Well, the New Yorker has a new piece called “The Danger of President Pence.” You can read it here. It’s not a soft-focus piece at all, and it actually feels like a necessary and somewhat brutal assessment for the man who is likely to be the next president. There are details about his single-minded ambition and lengthy discussing about his far-right views on everything from abortion to Israel. There are a few passages that people have been focusing on:
He really does call his wife “Mother”: As Rolling Stone reported in January, he referred to her in front of guests as “Mother.” Pence’s office has disputed the account, but a former Indiana Democratic Party official told me, “I’ve heard him call her Mother myself.” Pence also began observing what’s known as the Billy Graham rule, meaning that he never dined alone with another woman, or attended an event in mixed company where alcohol was served unless his wife was present. Critics have argued that this approach reduces women to sexual temptresses and precludes men from working with women on an equal basis. A Trump campaign official said that he found the Pences’ dynamic “a little creepy.”
In July 2016, Trump really was leaning towards Chris Christie as VP: In a phone conversation that I had with Trump during this period, he told me that he was torn about the choice. He noted repeatedly that Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, had been “loyal” to him. When I asked Trump if he shared Pence’s deeply conservative social views, he became uncharacteristically silent. Trump came closer to picking Christie than is generally known. On July 11th, Christie appeared at a campaign event with Trump. Afterward, the Trump campaign informed him that the choice was down to him or Pence, so he needed to “get ready.”
Pence refused to speak to Trump immediately after the Access Hollywood tape came out: When the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, revealing Trump’s boast about grabbing women “by the p-ssy,” Karen Pence was horrified. According to a former campaign aide, Pence refused to take Trump’s calls and sent him a letter saying that he and Karen, as Christians, were deeply offended by his actions and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. They urged Trump to pray. When Trump and Pence finally did talk, Pence told him that his wife still had “huge problems” with his behavior.
Trump mocks Pence privately, and to Pence’s face: According to a longtime associate, Trump also likes to “let Pence know who’s boss.” A staff member from Trump’s campaign recalls him mocking Pence’s religiosity. He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
Pence’s White House Bible study: At the White House, Pence has been hosting a Bible-study group for Cabinet officers, led by an evangelical pastor named Ralph Drollinger. In 2004, Drollinger, whose organization, Capitol Ministries, specializes in proselytizing to elected officials, stirred protests from female legislators in California, where he was then preaching, after he wrote, “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.” Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion,” calls homosexuality “a sin,” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. Several Trump Cabinet officials have reportedly attended the Bible-study group, including DeVos, Pompeo, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The rest of the piece is fascinating, horrifying and just as bad as these passages. Local LGBTQ and AIDS activists in Pence’s home state of Indiana even say that Trump is probably a better president than Pence will ever be, that’s how much Pence pissed off the people in his state. The piece also makes him sound like a total loser who was likely not going to be re-elected as governor because he had pissed off so many people. One of my favorite quotes in this piece is from Walter Mondale: “What’s Pence doing? I ask myself that every day. [All he’s doing is] trying not to make an enemy of the President.” NO, that’s not ALL he’s doing. He’s also making Mother submit to him. *shiver*
Photos courtesy of Getty.