Monday, July 18, 2016

He Has His Flunky

There is an adage which poltics recently has proven true: even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Former Red State editor, ex-Macon, Georgia city councilman and CNN pundit, theological student, radio talk show host and anti-choice fanatic Erick Erickson may not be right twice a day, but he is once in a while. When Mike Pence was revealed to be on Donald Trump's short list for Vice President, Politico noted

For conservative pundit Erick Erickson, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be "the perfect vice presidential pick for Donald Trump." But it's not because Erickson, who is solidly in the Never Trump camp, has a high opinion of Pence.

"Mike Pence would actually be the perfect vice presidential pick for Donald Trump because he lacks the courage of his convictions and would absolutely not overshadow Donald Trump," Erickson wrote in the post on Monday on The Resurgent, in which he tore apart the Republican governor's record since taking office in 2013. "He gives Trump the veneer of conservatism without anyone ever having to worry that he’d actually fight for those principles."

CNN finds Pence "backed every free trade deal up for a vote in his 12 years in Congress. Pence voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, as well as trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Singapore and more."

He supported fast track authority for the President and once claimed under the NAFTA "the volume of US corn exports to Mexico has nearly tripled since 1994."  On September 8, 2014 he tweeted "Trade means jobs but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership."

Interviewed Sunday with Trump by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, however, the Governor neither acknowledged his differences with Trump nor admitted that he is conforming his views with the head of the ticket. Instead, he pretended  "I support free trade, and so does Donald Trump," who has condemned the NAFTA, the TPP, and advocated a 45% tariff on goods imported from mainland China and 35% on items imported from Mexico.

Politico reports

Stahl asked, for example, if Pence agreed that Arizona Sen. John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured, as Trump argued.

“I have a great deal of respect for John McCain,” Pence began.

When politicians want to avoid admitting they don't like or agree with another politician, he is "a good friend of mine" or someone "I respect."  Consequently, in March, 2012 on Fox News, Trump remarked that Joe Biden "has been a good vice president for the agenda that they set and he has been a very, very loyal person. I respect him for that."

Nonetheless, Pence was unable to answer Stahl with a "no." In what is probably an idealized, but presumably accurate, description of McCain's experience in a North Vietnamese prison camp, Stanley Hubbell wrote

When Hanoi learned the identity of McCain's father they crowed, "We have the crown prince!" and he was asked, "Do you want to be released?"

McCain admits that he was tempted. He was in dire need of serious medical attention, he had dysentery and was rapidly losing weight he could not afford to lose. His chances of surviving this seemingly endless war were diminishing. He said he'd have to think about it.

A few days later he says his interrogator said, "The senior officer wants to know your answer."

"My answer is no," McCain said.


"Our Code of Conduct says we must not accept parole, amnesty or special favors."

McCain says his captors said they were anxious to demonstrate their good will. "President Johnson has ordered that you go home."

"Show me the orders."

They couldn't; there were no such orders.

"The doctors say you cannot live if you do not go home."

"The prisoners must be sent home in the order in which they were captured," McCain says he replied.

"What is your final answer?"

"My final answer is No."

A few years of torture ensued and McCain finally was released.   Decades later, he would decide that Sarah Palin was qualified to be vice-president. Sometimes age does not bring wisdom.

One year ago to this day, in what some people thought would be the beginning of the end of Trump's nascent presidential campaign, the real estae mogul said of McCain "He’s not a war hero.  He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Pence will not say he disagreed with Trump, only that he "respects" him, which could be for any reason, including that the guy his running-mate considers a loser has managed to get elected to the U.S. Senate five times, no mean feat.  Or perhaps it means he has a fine family or has steadfastly maintained his hawkish principles. He did not, however, say he believes John McCain was a war hero.

Ever a culture warrior, Erick Erickson criticizes Pence for watering down the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act the governor had signed when he faced a possible exodus of business from Indiana.. "He folded like a cheap suit," Erickson noticed of the trait evidently most admired by Donald Trump in a running mate.  Mike Pence does not intend to disappoint.

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