Former Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Georgia Monday with two missions: to engage in a little low-stakes political theater while, his allies hope, bolstered a public reputation that would make even Republicans turn their noses at the Pence brand . It’s clear that Pence excelled in the theater; Postponing its falling favorability rating will be a more difficult challenge.
Pence was in Georgia to support Gov. Brian Kemp, who faces a major challenge from former Senator David Perdue from his right. Perdue has the support of former President Donald Trump and the angry support of the core MAGA gang, but not much more. Recent polls have shown Kemp is double digits ahead of Perdue, beating the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a costly runoff.
But Kemp was never really in danger, and that’s a big reason Pence felt safe enough to use Georgia as the backdrop for his big break with Trump. Pence’s unwillingness to get into races where he can actually make a difference is a turnoff for voters looking for bold truth-tellers. And even at Pence does say he says nothing.
“If you say yes to Gov. Brian Kemp tomorrow, you will be sending a deafening message across America that the Republican Party is the party of the future,” Pence said in a remark that avoided even once assuming Donald Trump’s name mention. Pence’s moral failure, or at least his most recent moral failure, rests on the assumption that Republicans can build a post-Trump future without reckoning with their Trump-filled present.
Pence might have hoped that a year and a half out of the headlines would have improved Americans’ dismal reputation of him. In fact, it only got worse. A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in the first half of May found Pence received a net preference rating of -13, with just 38 percent of respondents saying they viewed Pence in a positive light. That’s eight percentage points worse than the same poll conducted almost exactly a year ago.
“As his tenure in the White House proved, Pence is also a man of unusual cowardice when it comes to taking a moral stance.”
Inaction, always Pence’s preferred strategy, did not create a viable path to the 2024 presidential campaign he sees in the future. That led to a conundrum: if Pence is serious about running for president in 2024, he at least has to do it appear to play a leadership role in the ideological struggles roiling the GOP. But, as his tenure in the White House proved, Pence is also a man of unusual cowardice when it comes to taking a moral stance.
Pence knows that if his endorsement of an anti-Trump candidate actually changed the outcome of a major election, he would face a sea of finger pointing, Trump’s poison and death threats. For this reason, during the Ohio GOP primary that nominated far-right Trump-Toady JD Vance, Pence remained passive and silent, unconcerned about Pennsylvania’s Republican Civil War over Trump’s support of talk show hijack Dr. Mehmed Oz.
Both races could have shifted if Pence had expressed his newfound dislike for Trump and MAGA’s political model. Vance was in a tight race prior to last week, and Oz currently leads his opponents by just 980 votes. Rather than take a political risk, Pence parked his influence on Kemp’s huge electoral and fundraising advantage in Georgia. In an era of increasingly outlandish political spectacle, Pence’s kid-pool policy isn’t disruptive enough to change the course of Republican politics, and it’s not genuine enough to trigger wider scrutiny of Pence’s character.
For all his efforts to reconcile the appearance of change with the futility of his visit, Pence was rewarded with another scathing critique from his former boss. “Mike Pence was to lose a gubernatorial race in 2016 before he was brought in and his political career saved,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said.
Strange as it is, Trump’s assessment of the situation is correct, and it’s a view not unique to the MAGA majority of Republicans. If Pence’s Georgia trip was his best attempt yet to distance himself from a populist, authoritarian movement he allegedly opposes, it was often impossible to tell the difference between Pence and fellow Georgian far-right MP Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Pence reiterated some of Greene’s biggest hits in a script during his speech and digressed briefly to blast the “radical left” and do some critical race theory conspiracy theory. That’s no surprise — prior to his time in Congress, Pence enjoyed a successful career on right-wing talk radio, peddling the same bigotry and rancor that he now claims is a dead end for the Republican Party. The only difference between Pence and the MAGA idiots who fill Twitter with White Replacement Theory misinformation is that Pence received a regular paycheck to vent his anti-government bile.
Looking ahead to 2024, Pence is a man on the hunt for a constituency. He bears the lasting mark of disloyalty etched into him by Trump in the days after the January 6 riot. Establishment suits, which once provided a safe haven for a man like Pence, are now a near-extinct species in national Republican politics. But Pence has already revealed his cure for Republican ills: just pretend the Trump years never happened and focus on “tomorrow.”
It is ironic, then, that the party bigwigs and centre-right voters that Pence envisions as the backbone of his 2024 strategy were driven out of the GOP in part because of Pence’s loyal silence during Trump’s various party purges. Had Pence shown real courage and spoken up earlier rather than waiting for the least risky moment, he might have been able to get a slice of the GOP, which would have been grateful for the vice president’s protection. Instead, he opted for silence.
After five and a half years of dutiful silence, Pence shouldn’t be surprised to discover he’s now preaching to a Republican party that can’t hear him anymore.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/no-one-is-more-irrelevant-in-the-gop-than-mike-pence?source=articles&via=rss Nobody is more irrelevant in the GOP than Mike Pence