Geopolitics

Mike Pence’s time to choose

Mike Pence is a man of God. He is also an accomplished politician of intense discipline, answering any aggressive or personal question with carefully prepared topics of conversation delivered at a reassuringly measured cadence in the Midwest.

He’s always on the news. As Vice President he hardly deviated from the MAGA line.

When asked about his prayers during the pandemic, Pence explained in one breath how he offers intercession (that the suffering would be comforted), petition prayers (that the leaders would be given wisdom), and thanksgiving prayers (that is Donald Trump, his boss). “I have to tell you,” he told RealClearPolitics aboard Air Force Two shortly after accepting the vice president nomination in August. “I really couldn’t be more proud of this president’s leadership through this global pandemic.” That Pence would turn a question of faith into an answer to Trump is not surprising.

It was dedicated to none other than the President, and no controversy – not the Ukraine scandal, not the photo of St. John’s Church, not even the Access Hollywood tape – ever caused Pence to leave his post. Disciplined. On message. Loyal to. Pence is all that: A Vice President straight out of the central casting, who supported Trump at all costs, but is now risking four years of well-earned goodwill in one afternoon. He has to count votes.

As Vice President, Pence also serves as President of the Senate, which means he will lead a pro forma certification of the electoral college election on Wednesday. The duty is usually procedural. By holding on to power and claiming widespread electoral fraud, Donald Trump has forced an uncomfortable decision on his loyal lieutenant: to confirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden or to support his boss.

“There is a famous verse from the Book of Esther,” David McIntosh, president of the Conservative Club for Growth and longtime friend of Pence, told RCP. “I think that applies to Mike right now.” Pence knows the scripture McIntosh speaks of. It is the story in which the queen, in exile in Babylon, has to decide whether to denounce a conspiracy to slaughter the Jewish people or to say nothing and ensure her own safety. The word of the lord:

For if you remain silent at this point, relief and deliverance for the Jews will come from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows you came to your royal position for a time like this?

The parallel is obvious. The choice, less. Pence faces a difficult decision that will affect not just the nation but his entire heritage. The vice president is undoubtedly looking for divine wisdom. And for a time like this, he has reportedly sought advice from political advisers and legal experts, as well as the Senate MP. For his part, McIntosh did not say who the “Babylonians” are in this case.

Trump made his thoughts known. “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. He’s a great guy, ”said the president at a rally in Georgia Monday night. Trump World’s hopes rest on playing the so-called pence card. The idea was that the vice president would unilaterally reject the election results. “Of course, if he doesn’t get through,” added Trump, “I won’t like him that much.”

This would be a bitter pill for Pence, which is widely believed to have his own ambitions in the Oval Office. However, being a party in a Quixotic attempt to reverse the election results could very well make it a pariah in future general elections.

However, close friends, as well as current and former colleagues, emphasize that the vice president has greater loyalty. “He’s very loyal to President Trump, who is obviously very interested in the outcome, but the most important thing about Mike is that he is truly a constitutionalist,” said McIntosh. McIntosh predicted that Pence would limit himself to “using the chair to give them an appropriate hearing on their motion.” Nothing more.

The pre-pence task is easy, at least on paper. The vice-president should open envelopes containing the electoral college votes reported by each state and then deliver them to the narrators of the House and Senate “in the presence” of both houses of Congress. Trump adviser Peter Navarro argued that Pence had broader authority that he could delay the process and allow a 10-day review of the results. Pence is apparently unaffected by this strange theory. “Peter Navarro is many things,” the Vice President’s chief of staff Marc Short told the Wall Street Journal. “He’s not a constitutional scholar.”

While Pence has signaled that he is open to GOP efforts to reverse the election result, he has not tilted his hand. It is still not clear what he will do other than serve his constitutionally mandated spiritual role. The vice president, his office said in a statement, “applauds the efforts of Members of the House and Senate to use the authority required by law to object and present evidence to Congress and the American people on Jan. 6.”

The Trump campaign and its allies have filed no fewer than 60 legal complaints about widespread fraud. None were successful in court. Meanwhile, White House staff have been whispering that the Vice President is not a true believer when it comes to electoral conspiracies. The New York Times reported that Pence even told the president he didn’t think he had the power to block Congress from certifying a Biden victory. This, Trump said on Tuesday evening, was “wrong news”.

“The Vice President and I agree that the Vice President has the power to act,” Trump said in a statement, later adding that the “election in the disputed states was corrupt” and therefore “illegal”.

“Our Vice President has several options under the US Constitution,” added Trump’s statement. “He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for modification and certification. He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for a vote on a state table. “

If Pence doesn’t exercise these strange options as Trump dictates, he could alienate the president’s base. But what good is a base that is not big enough to win national elections? That is the question posed by the GOP strategists investigating the 2020 wreck. Trump was unable to secure his own re-election, let alone retain the majority in the Republican Senate, which appears to be lost as of Wednesday morning.

There could be a chance in all this chaos, a chance for Pence to put a steady hand on the government wheel when the peaceful shift in power begins. “It only helps his future ambitions,” said Rep. Jim Banks, chairman of the Conservative Republican study committee that Pence once chaired.

“Only the insane fringes of the Republican Party believe Mike Pence should stand on the floor of the house in front of the nation and fail his constitutional duty of counting nationals,” added Banks, who predicted, “Pence will.” be president one day. “

These ambitions were clear to former MP Mark Souder from the start. The two Hoosiers served together in Congress, and Souder watched as Pence walked steadily through running the house to the Indiana Governor’s mansion and eventually to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across a parking lot across from the White House. “He has to choose,” said Souder of the last and most momentous decision of the vice president. “Pence respects the institution too much. He signaled it, and he will not overturn the voting, trial, and election officials because he built his career on the rights of states. “

“I can’t see it sold out,” added Souder. “Not for this guy.”

Pence will chair a joint session of Congress, his office confirmed late Tuesday evening, to count the votes at 1pm. Trump is said to be speaking at an event across town two hours earlier. It is known as the “Save America Rally”.

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