Sometimes, you wish Mike Pence would just stand up for himself.
The former vice president earned something of a reputation as a lapdog while serving under Donald Trump, repeatedly making it clear during their four years together that there was “no daylight” between the two — no matter how extreme and awful the president’s behavior became. The Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol should have changed everything. Pence rightly refused Trump’s demand that he attempt to block certification of the 2020 election. Trump, in turn, incited the crowd that broke into the House and Senate chambers, with some rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!“
If you can’t be angry at the guy who almost got you killed, who can you be mad at?
But Pence has his eyes on a possible presidential run in 2024. And Trump, who may or may not also run, still dominates the affections of GOP voters. Which is probably why, during a speech Thursday in New Hampshire, Pench confessed that Jan. 6 was a “dark day” for America — and also made the whole thing sound like a mild disagreement between friends, instead of a massive betrayal both of himself and of the country’s democracy.
“You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office,” Pence told a group of Republicans. “And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on that day.”
Good god, man. Show a little spine, would you?
President Biden’s victory notwithstanding, it’s not easy for vice presidents to earn a promotion to the Oval Office. In the last century, only former Reagan veep George H.W. Bush was elected directly from the No. 2 slot to the top job (a few others moved up when their predecessors died) and even he had to overcome the so-called “wimp factor.” Republican voters, especially, love candidates who come across as alpha males — but it’s difficult to look like a possible candidate for Mount Rushmore when you’ve spent years serving somebody else’s agenda.
Pence is already stuck with that challenge. Now it looks as though he can’t even rise in defense of his own life and safety. Why would voters want that? The former vice president wants the presidency, so he has sacrificed his pride. He will probably end up with neither.