Remember Mike Pence?
He was Trump’s lapdog, the man who reassured evangelicals in the 2016 election that Donald Trump had their back. Once in office, Trump returned the favor by questioning his loyalty and openly musing about removing Pence from the 2020 ticket. Pence’s political future went down in flames last January 6, after he certified Joe Biden’s election, despite pressure from Trump and insurrectionists chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
Now, it’s fair to say no one likes Mike Pence.
That doesn’t stop him from trying to be relevant, however. As if anyone cared, Pence slammed President Biden’s proposed vaccine mandate.
“To have the president of the United States say that he’s been patient, but his patience is wearing thin, that’s not how the American people expect to be spoken to by our elected leaders,” Pence told Fox & Friends. “The president should simply continue, as we have done, to lead by example. Encourage people to take the vaccine, as Karen and I did on national television back in December.”
Yes, something that happened ten months ago is highly relevant to the problem today. Pence refused to acknowledge that the vaccine resistance that drove Biden to push for a mandate is the result of Republicans who prefer to make COVID-19 a political issue instead of a public health crisis.
Pence, like most GOP leaders, is trying to have it both ways. Vaccines are good, he insists. However, refusing to get vaccinated is somehow even better. “Give me liberty and give me death” is the new GOP motto.
“Now to have a president not just scolding the American people, but governors around the country, it’s just not the American way,” Pence whined.
Of course, Pence’s complaint is entirely in line not only with his disastrous handling of the pandemic while in office — he chair Trump’s COVID-19 task force — but also his catastrophic response to an HIV outbreak in Indiana when he was the state’s governor.
Pence presided over 200 new cases of HIV in a four-month period because he objected to a needle exchange program. In that case, his moral values triumphed over other people’s lives.
As if to prove just how irrelevant Pence is, the National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) sent out a fundraising letter under Pence’s name which describes Biden’s election as a “contested takeover.” Apparently, the NRSC never bothered to ask Pence for approval.
“We appreciate Vice President Pence’s support in helping us win back the Senate. Our team made a mistake and a vendor sent the wrong version of an email. It was not approved by Vice President Pence’s team and we regret the error,” a spokesman said.
Pence still has delusions of being president. He’s been making the rounds in early primary states, like New Hampshire and South Carolina. Yet Trump is still dominating the field as he keeps the party in suspense about his plans.
Meanwhile, most political observers look at Pence and see a dead man walking.
Pence is going to have to content himself with the damage he caused as vice president, particularly to LGBTQ people. Because Trump couldn’t bother himself with the job of governance, Pence was able to give free rein to his worst impulses, resulting in the ban on trans military personnel and the religious liberty executive order.
Fortunately, it’s a legacy that Pence won’t be able to expand in the White House ever again.