Pence: Angling for the presidency?
When it comes to lavishing praise on President Trump, “no one does it quite like” Mike Pence, said Chris Cillizza in CNN.com. The vice president is “the Picasso of the platitude, the Kandinsky of kissing up.” Yet behind the scenes, there are “rising tensions” over Pence’s “aggressive” political maneuvering. With Trump showing no interest in actually leading his party, Pence has been quietly stepping into the void—headlining major GOP events, fundraising, and hiring aides who’ve run campaigns. Pence is building up Republican goodwill because he clearly “wants to be president when Trump is done”—in 2020, 2024, or perhaps sooner. An irritated Trump is aware of his vice president’s ambitions, said Matthew Nussbaum in Politico.com, and now “going out of his way to make sure Pence stays in his shadow.” When Trump heard the veep would be speaking at the National Rifle Association convention, he announced that he, too, would make an address. And last week Trump consigliere Corey Lewandowski joined Pence’s political action committee, a move many saw as a way for the president to keep an eye on its activities.
Pence is “America’s most repulsive public figure,” said George Will in The Washington Post, and should never be president. Trump “is what he is”—a “floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities.” But Pence has chosen to be an obsequious toady—an “oleaginous” man for whom no amount of brownnosing is too much. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to President Trump,” he’s said on several occasions, and in Israel last week, he compared Trump to King David. Pence’s extreme sycophancy won’t help his presidential ambitions, said Matt Bai in Yahoo.com. If Trump resigns, is removed from office, or chooses not to run for re-election, “it’s hard to imagine Republicans turning to his lackey as a savior.”
People always forget the extent to which the GOP “has succumbed to Trump worship,” said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. Pence’s eagerness to bend “the knee to the king” is really “just an exaggerated version of what the entire GOP” has done. Most Republicans will consider his loyalty to Trump an asset, not a liability. Either way, this vice president isn’t to be underestimated, said David Drucker in VanityFair.com. Pence is “a shrewd political operator” who is “looking three moves down the chess board.” ■