Pence Was In Charge

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author Larry Farmer
  • Published August 20, 2022
  • Word count 1,145

Pence Was In Charge

I have a theory that Mike Pence was calling many of the shots when Donald Trump was President. To begin with, I don’t believe Trump or his inner circle expected to win the 2016 Presidential election. A transition team headed by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had been formed, but it did absolutely nothing. When Trump unexpectedly won, something had to be done, and quick! Since Vice President-elect Mike Pence was the only Trump associate with any knowledge about the inner workings of the Republican Party and its personnel, he was placed in charge of staffing the government.

Before we get too deep into the theory, we need to take a look at Mike Pence and his belief structure. There is a group within the Republican Party and conservative movement that is broadly labeled as neoconservative. Made up largely of Jews, its founding members were former Communists who had lost faith in the Soviet Union over its treatment of Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel. They advocated a strong national defense and the spread of liberal democracy around the world by any means necessary. Generally speaking, they never saw a war they didn’t like. Their number one desire was to make the world safe for Israel. If democracy spread throughout the Middle East, Israel would be secure since democracies don’t tend to fight wars against one another. On social issues the neoconservatives had little in common with traditional conservatism. They never took a position against gay marriage, gun control, abortion, illegal immigration, or capital punishment.

Mike Pence agrees with the neocons on foreign policy but disagrees with them on social issues. He is what one might call a Christian Zionist. Christian Zionism is made up of conservative Christians who believe the Bible teaches that in the end of times the Jews will return to Israel. They feel we must do all we can to uphold this prophecy which means supporting Israel at every turn. They also believe Christ will return to earth and make war on the forces of Satan. From here the whole process become murky since it is unclear what role Israel will play in this conflict.

The degree of insubordination, disloyalty, and lack of respect toward the President during the Trump Administration was incredible. You had a secretary of state who called the President a moron, a secretary of defense who disobeyed or indefinitely delayed direct orders, a director of national intelligence who openly disagreed with and denigrated his boss, a United Nations ambassador who appeared to be speaking from an entirely different script than the chief executive, and an economic advisor who took papers from the President’s desk to keep them from being signed. It was all very unorthodox. Did Trump give these people an inordinate amount of freedom to speak their minds, or did they realize they owed their jobs to someone else?

One person Trump did appoint was former General Michael Flynn as national security advisor, but he lasted only a few days. He was later criminally charged with lying to the FBI, however the official reason the White House gave for his dismissal was lying to Vice President Pence. Without going into detail about the complexities of the Flynn situation, it is obvious that the Vice President’s fingerprints were all over this episode.

The major domestic accomplishment of the Trump Administration was a massive tax cut. It was especially beneficial to businesses in that it sharply reduced the tax on capital gains. The entire bill was in line with traditional Republican policies, and the Vice President was a major player in formulating the legislation and guiding it through Congress.

John Bolton’s appointment as national security advisor during the middle of the Trump Administration befuddled me to no end. Bolton was a neoconservative war hawk who represented everything Trump seemed to be against. The President should have realized this; I did; I could have told him! Bolton’s ideas, however, were consistent with those of Vice President Pence and the Christian Zionists. Eventually Trump and Bolton butted heads, and he either resigned or was fired depending whose story you believed. In the end it really didn’t matter because the chief of staff of the National Security Council during the entire Trump term was General Keith Kellogg, a close confidant of Mike Pence.

When the pandemic hit, the Trump Administration was caught flat footed. The President didn’t seem to have a clue as to what should be done. In the end he formed a task force with Mike Pence in charge, but things did not go well. At first Trump tried to imitate former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who became popular after 9/11 by holding daily press conferences. At the task force briefings, Trump would talk and take questions. It turned into a total disaster as the press ate him alive. To make matters worse, Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the task force began to openly contradict the President and even belittle his opinions. Apparently the Vice President gave them the freedom to do this; at the very least, he didn’t rein them in. As time went on, Trump appeared to be at war with his own committee, and Pence emerged as the adult in the room.

During the early stages of the 2020 Presidential campaign, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was all the rage on the Democratic side. He was attractive, young, gay, and articulate. Buttigieg spent most of his time focusing his fire on Mike Pence and largely ignoring Donald Trump. What was going on? Did he know something we did not?

Everything came into focus as to the extent of Pence’s power and influence during and immediately after the so-called insurrection of January 6 (2021). Trump and Pence had a disagreement about how to handle Republican challenges to the electoral vote count that would take place before a joint session of Congress with the Vice President presiding. Trump wanted Pence to reject the count and send the entire matter back to the states. Being in charge as presiding officer, Pence had the final say, and his viewpoint prevailed. In the middle of the process, a mob stormed the capital and disrupted the count for several hours.

Naturally Trump was blamed for the entire affair, and government officials began choosing sides. A significant number of Cabinet members and administrative staff resigned in protest. Most, of course, were Pence people. Some wanted Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and replace Trump as President, but he declined. However, it has recently been reported in the press that the Cabinet did have some conversations on this matter. Looking back over the four years of the Trump Presidency and at the mass resignations after January 6, it is obvious to me that Pence was in charge all along.

I received a bachelors degree in 1967 and a masters degree in 1971 from Western Kentucky University. I taught school for 44 years. One year was spent at Fordsville High School, 17 at Ohio County High School, and 26 at Trinity High School in Whitesville. The subjects I taught were government, history, and English. At Trinity I also served as coach, athletic director, and dean of students. I fancy myself a fairly good writer, and my main interests are sports and politics.

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