By Sushil Kutty
Former US Vice President Mike Pence is back, armed with a memoir with which he wills to conquer the future—Pence wants to be the spotlight in 2024 even as Donald Trump announced he’s gonna give himself another chance in the glare of the White House. Asked what he thought of that, Pence said there are “alternative choices” to Trump who had always kept Pence in the shadows of his own shadow! ‘Vice President’ Mike Pence and ‘President’ Donald Trump fell out on January 6, 2020, when the so-called Capitol Hill insurrection upended Trump, and Pence let it be known that two can play the game, one ‘Judas’, and the other Mike Pence!
But nobody straight out called Pence ‘Judas’, not even Trump. And Pence walked away from Trump to bask in a self-righteous sun. What his evangelical fan base thought, Pence never thought to explain; Trump, in turn, stopped talking of paleface two-timers.
The Pence memoir throws light on his current status with Trump, who hardly mentions Pence, unless asked point-blank. A chance meeting of Trump-Pence cannot be explosive unless Trump wants it to be. And, more than likely, Pence will not let go of his memoir till as long as there is the possibility of a faceoff with Trump in the run-up to 2024.
Trump being Trump had said it straight out “Here I come 2024”, but Pence being Pence had let it be known without actually spitting it out. Pence, as we know, never stood up to Trump. That is not going to change. Four years of kowtowing to Donald J. Trump is too much practice to forget all at once.
Pence will clam up like a cork. More than likely Pence has written the new memoir to build up courage. Pence is the sort who will not come on stage without a prop, and a memoir is a prop for whatever remains of life. Get stuck somewhere in the explanation, and all you gotta do is leaf through to the right page.
The Pence memoir titled ‘So Help Me God’ was released November 15, and is mostly about time Pence spent as Vice President to President Trump, a tortured relationship that Pence kept covered up standing still and unmoving behind Donald Trump in the Oval that Trump had squared up for himself, the no-nonsense authoritarian.
Now, Pence feels constrained to explain himself, and his split with the man who made him VP, the pinnacle of his career, ‘So Help Me God’! And being the gentleman, Pence cannot but tell the truth, the whole truth: “For four years we had a close working relationship. It did not end well.”
Pence’s grouse with ‘The Don’ is that Trump had with “his reckless words endangered my family and all those serving at the Capitol.” Thereafter, things never returned to “well”, and then, “I decided it would be best to go our separate ways.”
But for Pence his “separate way” runs bang into Trump’s way, which is funny because in his interviews to promote ‘So Help Me God’, Pence keeps referring to ex-President Donald J. Trump as “my former running mate”, as if vice presidents picked “running mates”, and not presidents.
But then, Pence does give the impression of being a little weird in a pastel way. Some would even say Pence could have been nothing but weird to agree to be Donald Trump’s running mate, whoever would want that, and January 6, 2020 proved it sufficiently for Pence to know he had committed a mistake.
And now Pence wants to challenge Trump for the White House. Pence probably sees in the January 6 insurrection a “window” to his future. And 2024 is serious because the “American people are looking for leadership that can unite our country.” If that sounds like Rahul Gandhi, it’s not because Rahul had a sneak-peak into ‘So Help Me God’! Pence says Americans are looking for “civility and respect”, which is not a Trump template.
To get a clear route to the White House, Pence wants the Republican Party to look beyond Trump which is possible if not impossible. Trump is not an easy man as Pence must know and now Trump doesn’t have the cunning Fox (News) on his side, and he is fighting with his back to the Wall (Street Journal).
But Trump is not fighting Pence, his current rival is Florida Governor Ron Desantis and compared to Desantis, Pence looks like an also ran who wouldn’t last the duration. Nevertheless, Pence sees himself as a “better choice” than Trump. “Whether it’s as a candidate or simply a part of the cause, I think we will have better choices … than my old running mate,” Pence told a prominent cable news channel.
But while demonizing Trump, Pence is unwilling to give up his share of the Trump-Pence administration’s successes. That will be what he will be shouting at the top of his voice from the 2024 podium. In an oblique manner of speaking, Mike Pence continues to be Trump’s “running mate”, and not vice versa. (IPA Service)