Pence is behaving like the middle school kid intimidated by a bully’s lunch money protection racket. Fearful of fighting back, he instead brings a little extra money for the gang every day and says the head bully is really his good buddy.
By shifting the conversation away from the fact that on January 6, Trump supporters brought makeshift gallows to the Capitol and voiced their rage at him specifically, Pence is seeking a bit of opportunity indicated in the latest CNN poll. In answering the survey, Republicans chose Trump as party leader by a 63-37 split but their support for him as a future president was less enthusiastic. Only 51% said they thought the party would have a better chance to win the White House in 2024 with Trump.
With the poll indicating a party that loves Trump, but not so much as a presidential nominee, Pence and others, including DeSantis, do have an opening. The trick will lie in being Trump-y enough to reassure the ex-President’s base — but not so devoted that one looks like a carbon copy.
A conservative Christian who is conspicuous about mixing politics and religion, Pence nevertheless found ways to support the profane, twice-divorced Trump. Like the frightened middle schooler who appeases a bully, he found safety in knuckling under as the world watched. As he returns to this strategy, we might judge Pence’s chances by putting ourselves back in a middle school frame of mind. As I recall, I felt sorry for the kid who groveled, but I never respected him.