Mike Pence in 2020? Or sooner?
Early this month the New York Times published a story suggesting Vice President Mike Pence is running “a shadow campaign” for president in 2020. Pence reacted angrily, calling the story “disgraceful and offensive to me, my family and our entire team.” But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Even though I don’t think Vice President Pence is running for president, he may find himself in the Oval Office before 2020 if our bombastic and undisciplined president continues to misbehave and test the patience of Congress and the majority of American voters. Trump’s core support hovers around 30 percent of the voters, which means 70 percent of us reject the way our president is handling his life-and-death responsibilities. He has some competent, conservative advisers around him — like Pence, new Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster and Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions — but he rarely listens to their advice, and that’s a huge problem in a dysfunctional White House.
As the neoconservative Weekly Standard editorialized after Trump’s somewhat surprising election victory last November, “We opposed him (Trump) early and often, and didn’t think he’d win. We lamented his ignorance, criticized his crudity, catalogued his untruthfulness . . . (and) his lack of discipline and judgment.” Nevertheless, the magazine said Trump would be a better president than Hillary Clinton.
Earlier this month Weekly Standard Editor Stephen Hayes wrote “the president is the picture of a failed leader (and) his administration is a disaster. . . . He (Trump) lies about matters both large and small and is obsessed by perceived slights in the news media,” which is typical of someone suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (my comment). For those who are unfamiliar with the Weekly Standard, it’s read by hundreds of thousands of conservative and Republican voters.
A more moderate publication, the Business Insider, published a lead article headlined “Memo to Mike Pence: Prepare to be Gerald Ford, Sooner Than You Think.” “You occupy an unusual position in our constitutional structure,” wrote Business Insider opinion journalists Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes. “It’s time for you to stop acting like one of (Trump’s) courtiers who jockey for his favor. You do not merely serve Donald Trump; you have an independent relationship with the American people. …. Start acting like a successor (to Trump), a viable one.”
“A vice president staring down the barrel of his boss’s impeachment would be well advised to consider and care about historical perceptions,” Hennessey and Wittes continued. “(Gerald) Ford was determined to not take any steps that could be perceived as attempting to secure the presidency for himself,” nor did he erode his own credibility by sucking up to President Nixon. And finally, the authors remembered what Ford said when he succeeded Nixon as president: “Our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works (and) our great republic is a government of laws, and not of men.” Amen!
I still believe impeachment is a long shot but the more craziness that occurs in Trump’s chaotic White House, the more congressmen and women — Democrats and Republicans alike — will start thinking about “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the relatively low threshold for impeachment.
Ex-President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath, but the Senate failed to convict him. As for President Trump, his lies will catch up with him sooner or later. Beyond that, however, if Trump fires Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein and/or Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief, all hell will break loose in Washington and it will look like Watergate on steroids. Stay tuned.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist. Welcome back to Nevada, President Trump and Vice President Pence.