Opinion

Is Mike Pence a hero?

The sharpest opinions on the debate from around the web

Members of the Jan. 6 committee said recently they might subpoena former Vice President Mike Pence to testify about the pressure he faced from then-President Donald Trump to overturn President Biden's victory in the 2020 election. Witnesses have testified to the panel that Trump called Pence on the morning of Jan. 6 to urge him one last time to stop the certification of Trump's loss to Biden when Congress met to finalize the Electoral College results. "It started off [in a] calmer tone ... and then it became heated," former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee, according to Axios. Ivanka Trump's then-chief of staff, Julie Radford, said Trump called Pence the "p-word" for resisting. 

The committee has received the accounts of several Trump and Pence aides about the call. Now it wants to hear directly from Pence about what Trump asked him to do, and why he refused to reject Biden electors to tip the election to Trump. Trump allies vilify Pence for turning down his boss in his time of need. Critics of Trump's baseless claim that he lost to Biden due to election fraud say Pence never pushed back hard enough against the Big Lie. Still others say he's a hero for braving the backlash from MAGA world and doing the right thing to ensure the peaceful transfer of power to the duly elected president. How will history remember Pence's role in the Jan. 6 saga?

Pence saved the day

Mike Pence put the nation's interests before his own on Jan. 6, says Isaac Schorr at National Review. He has his eye on the White House, so "his political interests may have been better served by lending more credence to 'stop the steal,'" to please the MAGA base. But Pence drew the line where it had to be drawn, and bravely resisted "Trump's call to try to reject the legitimate Electoral College results." His former chief of staff, Marc Short, and former chief counsel, Greg Jacob, told the Jan. 6 committee that Pence never wavered in carrying out his duties on Jan. 6, not even as Trump "egged on a mob chanting 'hang Mike Pence' by tweeting 'Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.'" Pence, it turns out, did "have the courage to do what should have been done," and he saved the day.

Just doing your job can be heroic nowadays

A lot of liberals who used to mock Pence as spineless saw him in a new light on Jan. 6, says Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. Not only did he stand his ground when Trump called him a "coward and worse," but he stayed at the Capitol that day — as rioters shouted "Hang Mike Pence!" — to do his job. Granted, he wavered before Jan. 6, and looked into whether there was a legal way to delay certification of the vote. Of course, the vice president has no right to stand in the way when Congress certifies the results of a presidential election, and Pence knew that. What he did took guts, but, remember: "Only in a country where duty has lost its currency and honesty is rare does doing the right thing rise to the level of heroic."

Pence should have stood up to Trump earlier

"I'm having a hard time joining the 'Mike Pence the Hero' bandwagon," says Bret Stephens at The New York Times. Why didn't he speak up in November when "Trump started lying" about the fact that Biden beat him? Or when Team Trump hired dodgy lawyers to "peddle insane conspiracy theories about voting machines and preposterous interpretations of the Electoral Count Act?" Pence is no hero. He's "a worm who, for a few hours on Jan. 6, turned into a glowworm."

The man is still a 'mealymouthed Trump stooge'

If Pence felt heroic on Jan. 6, he got over it, says Inae Oh at Mother Jones. This week, he told Fox News Digital Monday that the Jan. 6 committee's public hearings were part of a Democratic political plot to, and I quote, "use that tragic day to distract attention from their failed agenda or to demean the intentions of 74 million Americans who rallied behind our cause." The man is flirting with his former boss' "election lies," there. He also claimed to be concerned about "voting irregularities" in the 2020 election, and insisted that he and Trump had talked out their differences. In another Fox News interview, he said Biden lies more than any president in his lifetime, proving unequivocally that he's still a "mealymouthed Trump stooge."

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