Impeachment: Why not President Pence?
Of all the arguments against impeaching and removing President Trump, said Bill Scher in Politico.com, perhaps the strangest is that using a constitutional process would somehow “overturn” the 2016 election. In the still-unlikely event that two-thirds of the GOP-held Senate does vote to oust the president, the Democrats won’t gain control of the White House. “America’s reward for convicting Trump would be President Michael Richard Pence,” as rock-ribbed a conservative as any Republican in public office. Not only would a President Pence keep appointing conservative judges, deregulating business, and fighting for Christians’ religious liberty, he would do so without the constant drama and chaos of his predecessor. The pious, low-key Pence would be a refreshing change, said B.J. Rudell in TheHill.com, and he could pick a vice president to “broaden the party’s appeal”—say, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. With polls showing impeachment gaining momentum, the prospect of a GOP bloodbath in 2020 is becoming more likely. It’s possible that Republicans will decide that bringing in Pence might be “their best hope for preserving some power in Washington.”
The only flaw in that hypothetical scenario, said Rich Lowry in NationalReview.com, “is that it’s entirely removed from reality.” Most Republican voters adore their president. Senate Republicans know that if they remove him from office, the base will see it as a “dastardly betrayal”—their rage undoubtedly whipped up by ALL CAPS “human scum” tweets from the deposed Trump. Far from giving Pence and Republicans a “fresh start,” removing Trump “would leave the GOP a smoldering ruin.” With the Trump base sitting out the election, Democrats could nominate Bernie Sanders and “promise to make Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez secretary of the treasury and Ilhan Omar secretary of defense, and they’d still win.” Simply put, Republican voters don’t trust the “straitlaced” Pence to defend them, said Jane Coaston in Vox.com. They want Donald Trump, a rule-breaking warrior willing to “fight dirty,” if necessary, to save them from what they see as cultural extinction at the hands of the Left.
Trump, however, may have fatally damaged himself, said Jay Ambrose in the Chicago Tribune. If his Senate trial is devastating, Republican senators might vote against him and turn to Plan B—Pence. The former Indiana governor is a savvy, Reagan-style conservative, and if Democrats nominate a far-leftist such as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, Pence could be re-elected in 2020. That’s not far-fetched, said Rob Crilly in WashingtonExaminer.com. With neosocialism the only alternative, Pence’s promise of “more prayer, less Twitter, and a return to traditional Republicanism” could be a winning combination.
Pence has a problem of his own, said Ed Kilgore in NYMag.com. He has admitted joining in Trump’s effort to pressure the Ukrainians to investigate “corruption,” while denying he knew that Trump specifically insisted on a probe of the Bidens. On Face the Nation this week, Pence repeatedly ducked questions about what he knew, insisting robotically that “there was no quid pro quo.” Pence’s denials “strain credulity,” said Henry Olsen in The Washington Post, which is very worrisome. Impeaching Trump will throw “gasoline on the fire” already engulfing our divided nation. If the scandal threatens to consume Pence as well, raising the prospect of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ascending to the presidency, that fire will become an “out-of-control inferno.” ■