In 2008, Esquire magazine named him one of the 10 best members of Congress, a forever principled conservative, never a party hack. And a question is whether he might be among the country’s top presidents, this smooth talking, gently paced Mike Pence. It’s possible, at the least, that he could in fact become president, given the Democratic urge to impeach Donald Trump rather than see what the voters want in 2020.
But wait, it’s said, the House may impeach, but getting a required two-thirds vote from a Republican-controlled Senate to evict? It’s impossible. Excuse me, but let’s say instead that it’s highly unlikely but indeed possible. Some 63% of polled Americans have said the Ukrainian phone chat is a “serious problem.” If the public gets sufficiently worried by around-the-clock news sirens and comes to an overriding sense that Trump’s acts are a criminal abuse of power, election-wary, Trump-tired Republican senators could conceivably vote against him.
Thereby Pence could rise. And listen, he does not write semi-literate, misspelled tweets that bypass real issues to address petty matters with thoughtless insults. He is not vulgar and does not contradict himself in the same sentence. Before his vice presidential adventure, he spent a dozen years as a congressman observing D.C.’s twists, turns and somersaults and knows something about how the place works.
He knows issues, how to negotiate and, how to manage, as he showed as governor of Indiana. He does not go to dinner alone with any woman except his wife, and is safe from #MeToo retaliation, a real blessing these days. At one point a radio talk show host as well as a lawyer, he is articulate and a first-class debater, as he demonstrated during the 2016 election campaign. He took on Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s VP running mate advertised as solid, and broke him up into little pieces sprinkled on a national TV audience.
Pence is also a good public speaker, but the contrast between him and Trump is a silver haired gentleman vs. a golden haired rock ‘n’ roll star: Arousing thousands to uninhibited enthusiasm is not a charismatic talent he enjoys.
But then we come to Trumpian policies he supports, such as freeing businesses of crushing taxes and pointless regulations so that we have had the highest wage increases and the lowest unemployment in decades along with a reduced poverty rate. Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation points out in a Wall Street Journal article that the median wage has hit $65,084 in today’s dollars, the highest ever, which means the middle class is doing amazingly well however much one hates corporations that helped the cause.
The Democratic presidential candidates meanwhile want to incarcerate everyone in a socialistic state, costing a fortune, wrecking the economy and taking away freedom. The moderate columnist David Brooks summed up the party these days as somewhere “to the left of Che Guevara.” While Pence could fight this effectively, he could have trouble with his idea that there’s a third entity besides a woman and her doctor in abortions, namely a fetus with a right life. He has been hit for his stands on gay and immigration issues.
While the Esquire congressional evaluation is obviously not a definitive judgment, Pence is an able politician who could handle the presidency. He might have voter appeal the Democrats never dreamed of, especially if we continue to learn, for instance, about bumbles in the Trump investigation. Of course, Trump is most likely to stay in office after the curtain comes down on the impeachment drama and it just could be the Democrats lose either way.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.