Mike Pence was supposed to be one of the good, solid, Christian conservatives who would surround Donald Trump and give him wise advice. Today, the only thing that distinguishes Mike Pence from Donald Trump is his calm demeanor. He sold his soul and jettisoned every principle that he once professed in order to gain the power of the Vice Presidency.
Mike Pence’s Trumpian Makeover at the Vice-Presidential Debate
by Susan Glasser, for the New Yorker.
Both Harris and Pence are younger and far more articulate politicians than their running mates, fully capable of holding their own in a televised argument that cleared the low bar of not degenerating into a food fight at a senior-citizens’ center. The debate seemed sort of normal—at least, after Trump’s frenetic performance of a week earlier. But the more I listened to Pence the more I realized that the Vice-President of 2020 is no longer the deeply conventional, if fervently right-wing, evangelical of four years ago. Or even the oleaginous Trump suck-up he has been for much of the Administration’s tenure. He has been changed, and radically so, by his association with the President, and Wednesday night showed something both new and disturbing: Pence has come to resemble a lower-decibel Trump, lying with a fluency and brazenness that might have shocked his former moralistic self.
Once presented as the acceptable public front for Trumpism to those who might be offended by the President’s grosser displays of ego and misogyny, this new Pence was ruder and cruder, and he spent much of the evening interrupting the two women with whom he shared the stage, refusing to listen when the moderator implored him to follow the rules, and simply seizing extra time to rebut Harris whether Page offered it or not. This Pence was not the Middle American cleanup man of this spring’s anxious coronavirus press conferences; he was nasty, an elbow-thrower who dropped snide references to Biden as a plagiarist, inserted random media-bashing into long-winded soliloquies, and peddled a pet Trump conspiracy theory about the 2016 campaign. Like the boss, he repeated falsehoods about the Democratic platform with abandon—they are going to raise your taxes “on day one” and “abolish” fossil fuels and eliminate fracking and allow taxpayer-funded abortions “up to the moment of birth”—all of which was not only untrue but so exaggerated beyond the actual Democratic platform that it was hard to imagine anyone but the most diehard Republican believing it. This sounded like Donald Trump talking, not Mike Pence. A quieter, less bombastic Donald Trump, to be sure, but Trump nonetheless.