Saturday, May 20, 2017

Commentary on Evangelical Leader Mike Pence and His Role in Trump's Administration: "Bobblehead," "Willingness to Lie for Trump Knows No Bounds"

Rolando has pointed us in a rcent comment to some valuable analysis of the role being played by vice-president Mike Pence — a noted "Catholic evangelical" leader infamous for promoting "religious liberty" attacks on LGBTQ citizens of Indiana when he was governor there — in carrying water for Donald Trump as Trump seeks to stonewall investigations of his administration's Russian ties. Here's Richard Cohen's take on this noted "Catholic evangelical" leader:

When history holds its trial to account for the Donald Trump presidency, Trump himself will be acquitted on grounds of madness. History will look at his behavior, his erratic and childish lying and his flamboyant ignorance of history itself and pronounce the man, like George III, a cuckoo for whom restraint, but not punishment, was necessary. Such will not be the case for Mike Pence, the toady vice president and the personification of much that has gone wrong in Washington. 
On any given day, Pence will do his customary spot-on imitation of a bobblehead. . . .For all of them, an accounting is coming. When they are asked by history what they did during the Trump years, the worst of them will confess that they bobbled their heads like dumb dolls, while the best will merely say they kept their heads down.

Pence is commencement speaker today at the conservative evangelical college Grove City in Pennsylvania. Students are protesting. He will be commencement speaker tomorrow at Notre Dame University. Students there plan to protest. Notre Dame alumni, faculty, and staff have written an open letter in support of the students protesting Pence. It states, 

Given the nature of commencement and our mission as a University, we are disappointed to find that Vice President Pence will be the University's commencement speaker. We believe that the Vice President actively opposes this sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good. 
During his tenure as Governor of Indiana, Pence pursued policies that harmed the most vulnerable citizens of the state. He cut funding for public health interventions and delayed in removing a ban on needle exchange programs, leading to the worst HIV outbreak in state history; proposed to turn away refugee families fleeing war and violence and withheld aid and state services to resettled Syrians; signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community, while endorsing conversion therapy programs; and ignored lead contamination in the predominantly African-American city of East Chicago. Now, in the White House, he tacitly approves President Trump’s unjust policies toward refugees and immigrants. As Father Jenkins noted, this immigration policy "halts the work of valued students and colleagues who have already passed a rigorous, post-9/11 review process, are vouched for by the university and have contributed so much to our campuses."
Vice President Pence has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of concern for the common good and the values promoted by Notre Dame. Therefore, we are writing this letter in solidarity with every student, faculty, and staff member who is marginalized or threatened by Vice President Pence’s words and deeds, and the policies and rhetoric of the current White House administration. We hope his unfortunate selection as commencement speaker inspires all of us to reaffirm our own commitment to social justice.

Charles Pierce on Pence and his role in the Trump administration:

The late, great Hoosier J. Doghouse Riley used to call Mike Pence "The Choirboy" because of the current vice president's conspicuous demonstrations of political piety. It is important to remember that, at the end of his tenure as governor of Indiana, Pence was intensely unpopular, having nearly squandered the state's entire tourist economy by fashioning safe spaces for Christocentric bigotry. In fact, ever since Pence jumped into the co-pilot's seat next to President Crashcup, the Republicans in Indiana have broken a lot of rock trying to undo their former governor's acts of maladministration. In short, taking the vice president's slot on a ticket with Donald Trump was the only serious political option Mike Pence had left. 
And now, maybe, we're seeing that pay off. The Choirboy has a little bit of Signore Machiavelli in him. . . . . Either his job as head of the Trump transition team was largely an honorary position, like riding the pace car at Indy, or The Choirboy is sprinting for the lifeboat, trailing a slipstream of mendacity behind him. In either case, there's a certain low cunning to these events. I didn't think The Choirboy had it in him, but then I remembered what Machiavelli wrote about Pope Alexander VI, the father of his principal patron, Cesare Borgia, whom Machiavelli presented as a con man who did more 'with money and force of arms' than any other pope. Machiavelli would've seen the president* coming from miles away. Apparently, Mike Pence needed to be a little closer."

Josh Marshall on how we'd be foolish to imagine that Pence was (as he wants us to believe) out of the loop on the problems Mike Flynn brought to Trump's White House: 

We're seeing multiple stories this morning, building on hints and suggestions over the course of the week, that Vice President Mike Pence was kept "out of the loop" on seemingly all the problems with Mike Flynn. I see no reason to believe this. 
Pence wouldn't be the first Vice President to go this route. Some of the modern ubiquity of this phrase stems from then Vice President Bush claiming he'd been "out of the loop" on key decisions and knowledge about the Iran-Contra Scandal. There's even less reason to believe this with Pence.

Steven Harper on how Pence's willingness to lie for Trump knows no bounds: 

Donald Trump's disclosure of highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians and reported efforts to shut down the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn now shine a spotlight on the next person in line for the presidency. It should be withering, because Vice President Mike Pence (JD, Indiana — Robert H. McKinney School of Law, ’86) is not a solution to Trump. His consistent dishonesty is a central part of the problem America faces. But compared to the boss, whose dangerous tendencies he has enabled, Pence seems like a Boy Scout. That merely proves the depths to which the bar of acceptable behavior has fallen, if it even exists anymore. . . . 
Pence's willingness to lie for Trump knows no bounds. That became even clearer with reports about his central role in the cover-up relating to the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are not buying Mike Pence's story that he didn't know Michael Flynn was lobbying on behalf of the country of Turkey while he was a member of Trump's transition team. Vice President Mike Pence was the head of Donald Trump's transition team and most certainly should have known Flynn's shady side work for a foreign government. In fact, all the way back in November, shortly after the election, Rep. Elijah Cummings specifically warned Mike Pence about Michael Flynn. This morning, they released the receipts showing the full letter they sent to Mike Pence and an acknowledgement from Trump's transition team they'd received the letter. 

"Catholic evangelical" or not, Mike Pence is every bit the brazen liar that his boss is. He has a long, documented history of lying boldly. His right-wing white evangelical values obviously either comprise loopholes to permit trampling on the commandment that forbids false witness, or he's a hypocrite or psychopath: take your pick.

What he is not, as demonstrated repeatedly by his actions, is an honest, upright man faithful to the Christian values he so loudly proclaims at every turn, as he bashes LGBTQ people and seeks to place women in positions subordinate to men. I stand in spirit with every Grove City and Notre Dame student protesting his appearance as a commencement speaker at their schools.

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