Mike Pence

Mike Pence's Towering Hypocrisy

Donald Trump would be the kind of president Pence has warned about.

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Mike Pence
Rick D'elia/EPA/Newscom

In November 2010, Mike Pence gave a lecture at The Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention, and I happened to be there for my first exposure to his oratory. I remember the speech because it was an exercise in pomposity and sanctimony so insufferable that I walked out before he was done. Only now do I realize it was also a towering specimen of hypocrisy. 

Pence's subject that day was the presidency, a topic on which he had—I can't say "has"—uncompromising opinions. His mission was to instruct his audience on the proper characteristics and conduct of anyone holding the office. Though he largely avoided the name "Barack Obama," it was clear he thought the 44th president is an affront to the Framers. 

The presidency's "powers are vast and consequential, its requirements—from the outset and by definition—impossible for mortals to fulfill without humility and insistent attention to its purposes as set forth in the Constitution of the United States," declared Pence, his gaze steely and his jaw firmly set.

Of power, he said, "Those who are entrusted with it must educate themselves in self-restraint." 

"A true statesman lives in what Churchill called a continuous 'stress of soul,'" Pence informed his audience. "And that's why you must always be wary of a president who seems to float upon his own greatness." 

Pence told a story to illustrate the humanity and humility of Calvin Coolidge. "A sensibility like this—and not power—is the source of presidential dignity, and it must be restored," he said. "It depends entirely upon character, self-discipline and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic but life itself. 

"It communicates that the president feels the gravity of his office and is willing to sacrifice himself, that his eye is not upon his own prospects but upon the storm of history, through which it is his responsibility to navigate with the specific powers accorded to him and the limitations placed upon them not merely by man but by God." 

For those who feared Obama's presidency would bring about the destruction of America, Pence solemnly invoked the "great generations" that have gone before us: "They are silent now, but from the eternal silence of every patriot grave, there is yet an echo that says, 'It's not too late. Keep faith with us. Keep faith in God. And do not, do not ever despair of this republic.'" 

I had interviewed Pence once and found him mild and affable, so the fire and brimstone surprised me. At the Federalist Society convention, he sounded like a politician slightly unhinged by Obama and trying to establish a reputation as a profound thinker. 

But when Pence accepted the second spot on a ticket with Donald Trump, he made clear that he didn't believe a word he said. The address is full of lines that would disqualify Trump from a moment's consideration. 

Trump has not the slightest trace of the humility and dignity Pence once deemed essential, and it's hard to imagine his being constrained by the limits of presidential authority. As for the Constitution, Trump thinks it contains an "Article 12" and wants to censor the internet without regard for the First Amendment. "Somebody will say, 'Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech,'" he snorted. "These are foolish people." 

Does Pence think Trump has ever endured "stress of soul" or even has a soul to be stressed? Does he think Trump has "character, self-discipline and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic but life itself"? 

Pence warned us against any "president who acts like, speaks like and is received as a king"—a contemptuous description he used with Obama in mind. But no candidate has ever behaved with a more brazen air of royal prerogative than Trump. And a party whose principles have almost nothing in common with his views has meekly submitted to his majesty. 

Does Pence think Trump would be a president who "feels the gravity of his office and is willing to sacrifice himself"? Does he believe Trump would exercise his powers with respect for "the limitations placed upon them not merely by man but by God"? It's enough to make a cat laugh. 

If Pence would listen for the words echoing now from those patriot graves, this is what he would hear: "OK, now despair for the republic."

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

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  1. Flash — Politician is a hypocrite. Chapman extracts a column. Film goes all the way to 11.

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  2. True but anyone Trump would pick would have to be a hypocrite and psychopath. I wish he picked Gingrich – they could have been partners in hysterical delusion. Pence has an air of respectability that makes him harder to debunk. I think they will start to diverge and neither will understand why the other is being so stubborn. This is an opportunity for Cankles to pick a centrist.

    1. This is more like the 11 I expected.

    2. He should have picked Sarah Palin. Then the retardation would be complete.

      1. After you went off on John yesterday because he suggested that not all Trump supporters are white trash, I’m not sure you’re at your rational best on the issue of Trump.

      2. Correction–he suggested not all libertarians are white trash.

        . . . which isn’t awful in itself.

        I like to think of myself as not white trash. If I put on a jacket and tie, people will even let me use the front door of the restaurant occasionally.

        1. +1 Banjo pluck

  3. Again, there were like three Republicans who would have said yes to Trump. If Pence hadn’t said yes, they might have had t settle for Ted Nugent.

    Can anybody think of someone qualified who would have been better and would have said yes?

    First, cross all the Republicans off the list who won’t even vote for Trump. Who’s left?

    Ben Carson?

    1. Can anybody think of someone qualified who would have been better and would have said yes?

      Vermin Supreme.

      1. You really are a renegade.

        1. Just a realist.

    2. Trump-Nugent. They’d have a stranglehold on the American electorate.

      1. They both love the Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.

    3. Trump is a big fan of Matt Drudge, Michael Savage and Alex Jones. They are his source for understanding global politics and world history.

      Also cross off people who are not natural born citizens or old enough, since you have to be eligible to be President to be qualified as Vice President. That rules out Milo Yiannopoulos, even if he wasn’t gay.

  4. So, Reason gets its dumbest writer to spew a column about the dumbest VP candidate for the dumbest presidential candidate. I think this may be a black hole of derp.

  5. Gun rights, I don’t give damn about whatever other bullshit comes out.

    1. To me, it’s all about campus rape.

      Hillary Clinton is against campus rape.

      Rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape.

      Also, I’m against ISIS.

      I can only vote for someone who is against campus rape and ISIS.

    2. Pence is there to become the nominee when the GOP opens the trap door under Trump’s feet. His selection will placate the Cruz folks and maybe satisfy the Trump fans – “Trump picked him, so stop complaining!”

      Pence is horrible at speaking. He needs a TelePrompTer but doesn’t use one. He tries to read verbatim scripts on his podium with carefully chosen words filtered through focus groups strapped to emotion meters – exactly what Trump has railed against. He doesn’t make eye contact with the crowd and doesn’t adjust his tone or ad lib in response to crowd reaction. Maybe he can learn how to do that.

      1. Pence is the Right’s answer to Al Gore?

  6. Mike Pence has seen the light and now wants to Make America Great Again.

    I hope that as Vice President Pence can attend the funerals of many Intergovernmental organization high level bureaucrats.

    1. Sadly, he’s probably going to have to attend the funerals of more cops first, after eight years of Obama fomenting his race war.

  7. If Trump has any chance of a bump after the convention, it may only happen because the focus of the media is so biased and hateful towards him that it makes voters stick up for him instinctively for holding some of the same conflicted positions they do.

    Going after Trump for wanting to keep Muslims out in the wake of another gruesome terrorist attack is kinda like that. And the media is poised to do that on a dozen issues.

    Seriously, if you don’t understand Trump’s appeal, and you’re slogging him at every opportunity, you might ask yourself if the reason Trump is appealing to so many people is because you’re slogging him at every opportunity.

    1. “It’s just my little way of ‘sticking it to The Man’.”

  8. Being exposed to Chapman in the early hours builds character. Or something. Much like porridge, cold showers, and deprivation.

    1. Blackadder: Well, it is said, Percy, that civilised man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that through learned discourse he may rise above the savage and closer to God.

      Lord Percy: Yes, I heard that.

      Blackadder: Personally, however, I like to start the day with a total dickhead to remind me I’m best.

  9. Steve’s posturing on The Don will become a lot more convincing when he identifies three Trump positions not copied verbatim from the GO Pee’s Mein Kampf platform. There are fifty pages of National Socialism, threats to jail physicians, shoot hemp farmers, confiscate real estate and chattel–as bribery, not restitution–and again raid bank accounts until the money supply collapses into a depression. Taking time out from murdering Americans to blow up children on the other side of the planet is simply the icing on the cake–as in 1968.

    In 1968 voters had no alternative but Christian National Socialism and East German Communism. Today there is the libertarian party platform to vote for instead.

    1. Cool story, brah.

    2. The Nazi party platform reads a lot more like Democrats than Republicans: free health care, free education, government retirement plans, prohibition on false statements by the media, reduction of inequality, abolition of unearned income, etc.

  10. Another slew of hit pieces on Trump.

    I think I will go cook breakfast.

  11. I was reading this as if it was a normal libertarian article.

    I got to an exercise in pomposity and sanctimony so insufferable that I walked out before he was done and I thought “um…what the hell is…oh, right, Chapman of course.”

    For what it’s worth I agree with more of it than not, but starting with the usual Chapman partisanship makes it ring pretty hollow.

    1. Agreed, at least he managed to stop himself from mentioning Jews or Israel which confused me after seeing he wrote it.

      Even a stopped Chapman can be right twice a week?

  12. I remember the speech because it was an exercise in pomposity and sanctimony so insufferable that I walked out before he was done. Only now do I realize it was also a towering specimen of hypocrisy.

    So, Steve Chapman, you should have felt right at home, pomposity, insufferable sanctimony, and hypocrisy being your primary attributes as well.

  13. RE: Mike Pence’s Towering Hypocrisy
    Donald Trump would be the kind of president Pence has warned about.

    What?
    A republican a hypocrite?
    You don’t say!
    What next?
    A democrat a hypocrite?
    Who would’ve thought?

  14. Steve Chapman has been Ready for Her since 2008. He’s the standard cocktail party ‘libertarian’. The word sounds so ‘hip’ and ‘mysterious’ that it peaks the curiosity of his cosmopolitan audience, but at his core Chapman is just a cowardly progressive.

    I hope Trump wins just to see Chapman cry.

  15. Or…..Trump picked Pence BECAUSE Pence is not 100% on board with Trump’s agenda.

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