Pence cracked some pointless jokes, then turned his attention to the "tragic day" of his White House's Jan 6. attempted coup.
"President Trump was wrong. 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," Pence said as reported by CNN.
"Tourists don’t injure 140 police officers by sightseeing. Tourists don’t break down doors to get to the Speaker of the House or voice threats against public officials."
This is about as aggressive as Pence has ever gotten when it comes to almost-condemning Trump pushing an angry mob into an attempt on his life. Pence is willing to stipulate that Trump was "wrong" about Pence's own unilateral power to contest the election, and he's willing to stipulate that Trump assembling a furious mob, ignoring Secret Service warnings that the crowd was armed and demanding metal detectors at the security perimeter be turned off so that the crowd could keep them, ordering that crowd to "march" to confront the joint session of Congress that had met to confirm his election loss, and then further inflaming the crowd with a new assertion that Mike Pence was the one standing between them and victory—Mike Pence is willing to say that that multi-step process meant to overthrow the United States government was "reckless."
But "trying to murder me and my nearby family members in an attempt to overturn a U.S. election" still counts as only reckless, when Mike Pence is obliged to address that day, and not a transparent act of sedition. And that's how you know Mike Pence believes his own future political career to be, on balance, a more important thing than whether his family got murdered that day or didn't. Mike Pence is willing to wag his finger and say that inciting a violent coup attempt against Congress was reckless, the sort of language police use to describe a man driving his car up onto a public sidewalk in an attempt to bypass a line of cars waiting for their turn at a stoplight, but he's still not willing to point a finger at Trump and say this seditionist asshole needs to be shunned by our party and shouldn't be allowed within ten miles of the White House now or ever again.
To be sure, Pence had some things to say about how the public has "the right to know what took place" that day, and that he expects the press to "continue to do their job" in uncovering it, but all of that is speechwriter's horseshit because Mike Pence continues, to this day, to refuse to testify about Trump's acts. He's been fighting the latest subpoena for his testimony, and he kept his lips well and truly zipped when the public investigation of "what took place" on that day came to ask him what took place.
Mike Pence still reportedly wants a shot at being president, and specifically wants the Republican Party 2024 nomination, but Pence's problem is that his party has openly embraced sedition so if Mike Pence wants that nomination he's going to have to agree that attempting a violent coup is "reckless" at worst. The Republican Party's position is that Trump had every right to try to get Mike Pence killed, so Mike Pence has to adopt the same position if he wants the party's official support.
But what is going to be his argument on the debate stage, then? His current path will lead to him standing next to the other candidates to explain that "while I greatly disapprove of Donald Trump's attempt to murder me, I respect his right to give it a try." How, exactly, does Pence think he can thread the needle of arguing he's the best Republican candidate while simultaneously agreeing that the other Republican candidates wouldn't be out of line to try to kill him if they disagree with him on that.
If Pence had a single bone in his wobbling body, he'd have realized by Jan 7, 2021 that his role in history had been narrowed to one of either supporting the attempted end of constitutional democracy or condemning it. Perhaps speaking out would have ended his political career for the moment, as it has at least momentarily ended former Rep. Liz Cheney's.
But if Pence's rejection of Trump's coup had led to others in Trump's inner circle also, at long f--king last, condemning Trump and loudly proclaiming to Republican voters that hoax and rebellion is not what Republicanism stands for, the tide might have turned. Pence might have found his place as hero, instead of spineless and permanent also-ran.
Trump did not pick people of courage to surround him, however. From the beginning he chose only patsies and bootlickers, people who would abide being mistreated and belittled and ignored by him while he tossed policy matters to his son-in-law and spent the rest of his days polishing his own ego. Mike Pence was chosen to be lickspittle, and it seems he will never, ever, have the courage to break out of the role.
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