WAVERING: Mike Pence sends mixed messages about holding Trump accountable
Poor Mike Pence. The former vice president pretty obviously wants to run for president but has alienated all of the MAGA crowd because of his refusal to cooperate in Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the results of a legitimate election.
Now he’s perhaps trying to redeem himself in the eyes of Trump’s supporters by fighting the subpoena he received to testify in front of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury.
Still, as his appearance Saturday night at the Gridiron dinner held by Washington D.C. journalists annually, Pence was sending mixed messages with both his jokes and his serious asides at the event normally dedicated to gentle ribbing of the political class.
Donald Trump received no respite from dad joke humor of his former vice president at the Gridiron dinner, with Pence ridiculing the religiously illiterate disgraced ex-president with his homespun repartee.
Take this quip, for instance:
“I once invited President Trump to Bible study,” Pence related. “He really liked the passages about the smiting and perishing of thine enemies. As he put it, ‘Ya know Mike, There’s some really good stuff in here.’”
Que the rimshot.
But will jokes like these endear Pence to enough of the Republican base to make him a serious contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024?
That Pence is still considering a run for president was the subject of at least one of his supposedly humorous lines last night, one that alluded to the uncertainty of what Trump might do if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination next year.
“I will wholeheartedly, unreservedly support the Republican nominee for president in 2024,” Pence vowed before uttering the punch line: “If it’s me.”
Pence didn’t limit himself to pitiful attempts at standup comedy, however.
His serious remarks may blunt any goodwill that he may expect from the MAGA crowd over his attempts to avoid testifying about Trump’s conversations with him in the runup to the January 6th insurrection.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence dared to say. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
Actually, it’s the Justice Department that most of us want to hold Trump accountable right now. History can wait.
“The American people have a right to know what took place at the Capitol on January 6th,” Pence continued. “But make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way.”
With decency, at least the evangelical kind, being Pence’s brand, it’s easy to see why Pence doesn’t like to see it mocked.
If Pence is serious about holding Donald trump accountable, he will drop his opposition to the Special Counsel’s subpoena and tell the grand jury everything that Trump said to him when he was trying to overturn the legitimate 2020 election results.
Then the joke will really be on Donald Trump.
Original reporting by Ben Terris at The Washington Post.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.