”Don’t you recognize me?” “Ummm, gimme a hint.” “I’m your WIFE, dumbass!” Ash vs Evil Dead
You know, even in the current more progressive, affluent, and permissive age we live in today, most people still tend to take marriage pretty seriously. Not only because of the emotional trauma it can cause, but because of the financial ruin that it can cause for both parties, as well as social damage.
And nowhere is that risk more apparent, or serious, than when a Presidential candidate decides to “marry up” to a Vice Presidential running mate. In many ways, a presidential candidate choosing a running mate is eerily similar to the “arranged marriages” previously common in some cultures. The “parents” in the party tend to “pair up” the couple for strategic and political benefit, and the kids are stuck with making the basic mechanics of living together under the same roof work.
History is stuffed chock-a-bock full with these “odd couple” arranged marriages politically. Dan Quayle was about as qualified to be a vice president as a real quail, but he provided the necessary “youthful glow” to the stodgy and drying paint dull of George H W Bush. Dick Cheney was supposed to be a steadying political influence on the addle pated and politically nebbish George W Bush, but instead left W in the playpen while he traded US military lives for Haliburton profits. And Joe Biden gave the up and coming, but inexperienced Barack Obama the political and foreign policy gravitas to make people more comfortable.
The Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket was just such a shotgun marriage. Pence was supposed to be a steadying influence to “traditional” Republican voters, as well as deep pocket GOP donors, who were obviously uneasy about the rather erratic behavior and public pronouncements of a candidate who treated real world politics like just another reality TV series. But where Dick Cheney had the strength of will to impose discipline on the pliant W, Pence had neither the savvy, nor the spine to even slow down, much less manipulate the alpha male in his relationship.
The marriage was a match-made-in-heaven for Pence. A dull and uninspiring congressman, who became a dull and uninspiring Governor, Pence was facing a tough reelection fight in Indiana for another term. And if he couldn’t win reelection as Governor, he could kiss a future run for Senate goodbye. Yet, here he suddenly was, being offered the job of playing second fiddle to a 70 year old lecher, who snarfed bacon double cheeseburgers like he could “take a mulligan” on his cholesterol score. Pence was, and still is, literally a single heartbeat away from being serenaded with “Hail to the Chief.”
But for Donald Trump, Mike Pence was a necessary evil, a means he had to accept to gain his political end. Trump’s disgust with, and his disdain for Pence has been apparent since day one. The casual, almost offhand way in which he made the initial announcement of his selection only served to diminish and humiliate Pence. And he rubbed salt in the wound the very next day, by leaking to the media that he was seriously exploring ways to cancel his offer, and pick someone else instead. Trump has been widely reported to consistently mock both Pence’s staid and traditional lifestyle and marriage, as well as his deeply held fundamentalist faith. And while I don’t believe for a New York minute that Pence was so clueless that he was unaware that Michael Flynn was bullshitting him about his contacts with the Russians, what I do believe is that Trump made no “official” effort to keep him in the loop, nor does he in most matters. You can tell that by how often Pence makes a statement in a speech or appearance, only to have it undercut by Trump the next day.
But Trump has a problem. Unlike members of his cabinet, he can’t just ditch Pence. Unlike cabinet officials, Trump can’t “force” Pence to resign, with the threat of firing him if he doesn’t do so. And actually firing Pence would not only ignite a political bonfire-of-the-vanities, his replacement would almost certainly be even worse. Trump can’t appoint an “interim” vice president, his choice would have to be confirmed by both the House and the Senate, which would leave Nancy Pelosi licking her chops so hard she’d end up with mascara on her tongue.
Except for right now. Because as we speak, well as I speak anyway, Trump is gearing up for his reelection campaign. Hell, he announced the formation of his reelection committee before he even finished getting out of his inauguration tuxedo. And while there is no way on earth for Mike Pence to choose a new running mate for 2020, Donald Trump sure as shit can. And I think he will.
Never forget one thing. Donald Trump is above all else purely transactional. He sees everything exclusively through the prism of his personal and political benefit. Mike Pence was a necessary evil that Donald Trump had to endure in order to get the traditional GOP “establishment” to fall in line behind him. That traditional establishment no longer exists. The GOP is now the Party of Trump, lock, stock, and barrel, and nobody in it is going to defy him. Since day one, when he clanked and rattled down that crappy schlock gilt escalator in Trump Tower to regale a paid audience with insults about Mexican rapists and dopers, Trump has been monolithic about one thing, and one thing only His base. And Donald Trump’s base couldn’t give a bowl of piss Jack Daniels less about Mike Pence.
Not only doesn’t Donald Trump want Mike Pence around his neck like an albatross anymore, he doesn’t need him. The kind of “sane” Republican voters that Pence was supposed to appeal to have all fled the burning garbage scow of the Trump presidency. And Trump already knows that he can keep the Evangelical voters that Pence vouched for him to, simply by dancing visions of sugarplum judges in their sanctimonious, holy rolling heads. And don’t put it past scaly creatures like Jarvanka and Stephen Miller to play on Trump’s overarching paranoia by starting a whispering smear campaign against Pence to get someone more to their liking in the #2 spot. Someone ignorant and sleazy, just like them.
Pretty much regardless of whom the eventual Democratic candidate is, Trump is facing a tough reelection battle in 2020. It was reported yesterday that his “secret strategy” for reelection was to identify “dormant” voters, whom while they liked Trump, and agreed with his policies, nevertheless didn’t go out and vote for him in 2016, and activate them to get out and vote in 2020. What better way to do that, thank to find somebody even more racist, and crazier than himself to appeal to them? And such a move could also provide an extra layer of protection to Trump, at least in his own mind. If Trump once again manages a miracle reelection through the electoral college, and the Democrats maintain conrol of the House, Trump will almost certainly face impeachment hearings, and likely a trial. What better way to give Pelosi and the Democrats pause, than by selecting a running mate that makes even him look like a palatable alternative?
GOP strategist Rick Wilson summed up this entire pathetic, failed democratic lab experiment perfectly with the title of his book, “Everything Trump touches, dies.” Mike Pence has had a long,painful, and personally embarrassing illness. But there is at least some reason to believe that he is now on life support, especially with the way that His Lowness is purging every other even passing threat to his power and authority, and I just get the feeling that Trump has his hand on the cord, ready to pull the plug. We shall see.
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