Describing Mike Pence

Every Monday, Gail Collins and Bret Stephens have a “conversation” on the op-ed page of the New York Times. As I have noted on several occasions, I am a huge fan of Gail Collins, who argues for the liberal side in those conversations, and although I disagree with Bret Stephens–representing the conservative side– on a number of issues (not all), he makes me nostalgic for the time when Republicans a/k/a conservatives could be engaged in actual discussions. Today,  they prefer to emulate monkeys throwing poo….

Unlike the inarticulate Trump Republicans hurling verbal poo, Stephens also has a real talent for witty invective, and that talent was on display in his conversation with Collins last Monday.

The column was titled “The Mike Pence Saga Tells Us More Than We Want to Know,” and after touching on a number of other issues, including New York’s mayoral primary and Trump’s Ohio rally, the conversation turned to Indiana’s ex-Governor and America’s ex-Vice-President, Mike Pence.

Here’s that portion of their back-and-forth:

Bret: You know, I probably spend more time thinking about Mike Pence than I ought to, given my high blood pressure. He reminds me of Mr. Collins, the unctuous clergyman in “Pride and Prejudice” who’s always bowing and scraping to the overbearing, tasteless, talentless Lady Catherine de Bourgh while he lords it over the Bennet family because he stands to inherit their estate. Alternatively, Pence could be a character out of Dickens, with some ridiculous name like Wackford Squeers or Mr. Pumblechook.

Gail: Wow, great analogies. Plus, it is indeed possible you spend more time thinking about Pence than you ought to.

Bret: Here’s a guy who makes his career on the Moral Majority wing of the Republican Party, until he hitches his wagon to the most immoral man ever to win a big-ticket presidential nomination. Phyllis Schlafly deciding to elope with Larry Flynt would have made more sense. Then Pence spends four years as the most servile, toadying, obsequious, fawning, head-nodding, yes-sirring, anything-you-say-boss vice president in history. He’ll do anything for Trump’s love — but not, as the singer Meat Loaf might have said, attempt to steal the presidential election in broad daylight.

For this, Trump rewards Pence by throwing him to a mob, which tried to hunt him down and hang him. But even now, Pence can’t get crosswise with his dark lord, so the idea of him ever taking the party in an anti-Trump direction seems like a fantasy.

Those of us who follow such things have watched as Pence tries to appeal both to Trumpers and to the majority of Americans who were appalled at efforts to withhold certification of the election results. He is continuing his adulation of his “dark lord” while insisting that his courageous fidelity to the Constitution kept him from refusing to perform his electoral duty. That balancing act is unlikely to mollify either the crazies who form the base of today’s GOP or anyone who spent four years observing Mike Pence. (It’s especially unlikely to endear him to Indiana voters, who found his preference for pontificating over governing during the prior four years very tiring).

Pence’s effort to cast himself as a defender of the Constitution is coming at the same time as Bill Barr’s equally tardy effort to distance himself from the Big Lie. (“It’s all bullshit.”)

Neither man is very persuasive, but the efforts are instructive. When two of his biggest sycophants attempt to distance themselves from the disaster that is Trump, it is a clear sign that his influence is waning–that those who were happy to carry his water when he was in office don’t expect him to regain power or influence–or be in any position to do them any good. (It’s too little, too late–Bill Barr is never going to regain the respect of the legal community, and Pence never had the respect of anyone other than a few naive fundamentalists.)

Wackford Squeers sounds about right…


  1. Great stuff! Pence is truly a pathetic creature. Barr is just more of what Republicans have been, politically, since Reagan lit the match on the Constitutional destruction bomb.

    I’m sure many of the bloggers share my disgust and fatigue with the political climate of the Trump era. I think Pence’s replacement out of the bull(shit) pen is Kevin McCarthy. He is truly vacant of anything representing governance and lacks even the tiniest hint of having a vertebral column.

    Maybe Collins and Stephens will tag-team that moron soon.

  2. Pence reminds me of an artificial intelligence robot. Have you ever watched his speeches? He pauses but doesn’t get the applause and it’s so funny. His expression never changes, just his voice. Total robot and clueless!

  3. Pence is a hypocrite, and his campaign and behavior during that campaign are proof he is amoral and there is no limit to the depth of his ego-driven behavior.

    This article from Politico ( describes his horrible attack on Congressman Phil Sharp. He made up lies about Sharp out of thin air and when he loses, he vows to never again commit such grievances, yet that promise was thrown out the window once he get a whiff of the possiblity of sitting in the Oval Office.

    What is more disturbing is that someone (not Pence because he is not smart enough) has literally wiped clean all of his media prior to 2000. The video from his short lived television show of his fake “dinner party” with Mitch Daniels, Randall Tobias, Stephen Hilbert and other nortorious men of Indiana, plotting the demise of public schools; his speeches of praising tobacco companies and denying climate change; and the horrendous campaign commercials with the fake Arab that makes all kinds of outrageous, false claims about Sharp.

    So Pence was more Trumpy before Trump decided he was going to be a Republican. Pence is scum, and hopefully the people of Indiana and the US won’t fall for his crap any longer.

  4. Mike Pence. Still licking the short-fingered vulgarian’s boot while trying not to taste the shit that needs to be scraped off the sole.

  5. I wouldn’t waste my time even watching a show that was discussing Pence. The scary fact that Mike was Governor of Indiana is all you need to know about Hoosier voters. Then he gets votes as Trump’s baggage carrier. Good grief.

    I had to stomach him during the VP debates about the same way rubberneckers pull up next to an accident on the freeway wanting to see blood but hoping not to get a glimpse of death and mutilation. The man cannot answer a direct question. He’s a sociopathic liar.

    However, I can’t entirely agree with Trump losing his grip on the GOP. His pending prosecution will prop him up in the cult as they know it’s the DEEP STATE coming for him. No candidate will distance themselves from him as they’ve all jumped over the cliff into the conspiracy abyss, which gets more looney with each passing day.

    Every single article about the coming Delta variant or climate change catastrophes, these looney bins mock it and walk right over the cliff. If they weren’t harming others, it would be hilarious to watch.

  6. Nice white hair and a pious expression have gotten Pence a long way. Pose him in front of a flag and he’s a hit. Why would Pence run on the ticket with the most vicious, immoral man ever? Pence, who won’t have lunch with a woman unless his wife is also present, suddenly falls in line with a man who has five children by three different wives. Hopefully some Trump/Pence supporters will see this.

  7. Quote from Rolling Stone article, dated Feb. 9, 2017 titled, “THE RADICAL CRUSADE OF MIKE PENCE”, sub quote, “As governor of Indiana, he trampled on the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and the poor. Then there’s the incompetence….”

    The incompetence continues to hold true; his first words against Trump were when he called for help to save his own life against the January 6th Insurrection. In his virtually powerless position as Vice President-elect and no longer Governor of Indiana, but with his BFF Holcomb sitting in the Governor’s seat, had probably pre-arranged the $6 MILLION Carrier payoff to keep jobs here which they all knew would be gone in the coming few months. Not only incompetent and a coward; he is a liar. Like Trump and Barr; he has no idea when to remove himself from the public eye.

    “Pence’s effort to cast himself as a defender of the Constitution is coming at the same time as Bill Barr’s equally tardy effort to distance himself from the Big Lie. (“It’s all bullshit.”)”

  8. Thanks to Mike Pence, but especially thanks to George Will, I now know the word “oleaginous”.

    Sadly, he’s not the only chuckle-head trying to walk a fine line between more traditional conservatism and the cult of the former guy (TFG). IN 3rd US House Rep Jim BanQs, who leads the Republican Study Committee in the House, recently visited TFG at his club in Bedminster, NJ and later joined him for a cheap, hollow photo op at the US-Mexican border.

    BanQ’s political ambitions are as high as his intellect is low but he knows that goons like him can only hope to rise in the House GQP hierarchy, and on to a national office, that he must drive a narrative that diminishes the true radicalism of Trumpism and its place at the core of his party. That’s why they insist the January 6 insurrection as little more than a protest by tourists. The want movement conservatives to believe that they have their hands on the steering wheel of the party. They don’t.

    I’m convinced that this strategy seems to be working and the reason is that traditional movement conservatives really have nowhere else to go. They will not be peeled off by moderate Democrats in elections and they realize that sitting out elections will leave more seats in Congress to Democrats and their radical socialist agenda. Anyone who can believe that Trickle Down Economics works after 40 years can believe almost anything, so they can easily believe that they’re in charge when they’re clearly not and that TFG cult members share their economic interests when they clearly don’t.

    Opponents of this sham need only remember one thing, and repeat it over and over and over again loudly:

    Movement Conservatism = Trumpism = Autocratic White Nationalism.

  9. “Here’s a guy who makes his career on the Moral Majority wing of the Republican Party, until he hitches his wagon to the most immoral man ever to win a big-ticket presidential nomination.”

    Nailed It!!!!

  10. I think polling would indicate Trump still holds something like 90% of the Republican base. There is no chance he’s going anywhere. No one will flee from him for any longer than they have to in order to push the media off. The base is orange to its core. Therefore, the base’s representatives (who have no interest in not winning their primaries) will wrap themselves in an orange flag loudly and proudly. Bank on it. I’d bet my 401k if I had one.

    Besides, most of the (very few) genuinely anti-trump Republicans still like everything he stands for. They just don’t like the “say it out loud” part. Racist dog whistles? misogyny? faux religious zeal? Blaming the other? vaguely fascist? …. Well, gosh darn. Sounds like Trump was slightly too loud feature rather than a bug.

  11. Particularly in rural areas of Indiana, I see flags flying for tfg (“the former guy”) with the year “2024” and the slogan “the rules have changed.” 1) When did candidates for political office have their own flags? 2) A great many people in rural Indiana still embrace tfg and will not be deterred. 3) After Nixon resigned in 1974 there still were people (e.g., my parents and my brother) who supported him (and those always were fun holidays at home – I tried to get back to DePauw as quickly as possible. 4) The rule “changes” might be the laws seeking to suppress voter turnout, so we need to make sure people are registered to vote, current in their registration, and vote.

  12. Mike Pence has a silver mane with every hair in place. He wears an expensive suit and tie with a pressed white shirt that wreaks of purity. He knows how to squint his eyes at the right time, wave to someone off-camera, and look more pious than Mother Teresa. If Mike Pence were to run for Governor of Indiana again, he would overwhelmingly win; if Mike Pence runs for President, he will win Indiana. After all, this is Indiana, where fundamental conservativism and traditional family politics (with a good dose of gerrymandering) determine elections.

  13. Get real folks. Trumpism gives people a clear identity, a brand, a place to use their anger and fear of change. Angry, fearful, “fans” support their team by voting. DEMs have no unified, appealing message to vote “for”.

    I haven’t seen any aviator sunglass flags. Pew research this week looked at 2020 and saw that Biden’s improvement over Clinton was due to….gasp, white men.

    The iceberg is ahead; we can see it…the turn becomes ever more difficult daily.

  14. Pence is the prototypical New Republican. A robot with nice hair and winning ways with zero heart and small of brain. He recites Fox scripts on command.

    I imagine that Trump is enjoying bowel movements more now with Pence out of the way.

    More likeable than Ted Cruz, smarter than MTG, he can be mistaken for merely incompetent in governance. but that’s only for we the people. I imagine the brother Koch thinks him perfect.

  15. Leading up to the 2016 Governor’s race in Indiana, when “Pence must go” signs starting sprouting up across urban Indianapolis, I was pretty happy to see that so many others saw the total incompetence.

    When Pence hitched his wagon to Trump, it really illustrated the the total oleaginous nature of his personality (Did I use it correctly?).

    But yesterday at lunch my wife and I ware having a conversation about how bad the Trump years were, and compared them to the Nixon years. Our conclusion on the President was that while totally corrupt, Nixon did have some leadership qualities. But when we were comparing VP’s, Agnew comes out looking like an honorable man compared to Pence. Agnew had the decency to resign when faced with being connected to scandal, corruption and cheating.

    Is this just faint praise?

  16. It took the Bush the Elder to put on display for the entire world and nation to see, hear and observe Hoosier Provincialism, when he selected Dan Quayle as VP. Quayle may very well have been the first step in the GOP that Right Wing Reactionary bible thumping was supported by a sizeable minority in the GOP. It was message not substance that counted.

    The GOP was in essence just waiting for The Trumpet to come along. The Trumpet did not change the GOP – He shouted in loud voice what they were and they should be proud of it.

    Pence was ambitious enough to align himself with The Trumpet. Pence was and is an empty suit. Pence is finished as a force in the GOP – He is seen as a Judas to all the Trumpet’s in the GOP.

    When you think about the Hoosier State you have a Dan Quayle and Mike Pence who reached the VP level and Eugene Debs, a Hoosier, who was put in prison. How sad.

  17. Why NO Words about “Mother” Pence??? Seriously, folks…Is No One concerned about HER ???

  18. I am with you Peggy. I laughed a lot when the fly stayed on his head during Pence’s debate with VP Harris. Was the fly attracted because of his sugar coated lies or the garbage he spews?

    I always thought that should Trump fall severely ill or die while in office that we’d be in more trouble with Pence because he is so smooth when he lies and when he supports policies that deny people their civil rights.

    Now the Trumper’s are booing him because he did one thing right. He supported the certification of Biden’s election.

  19. Lol! This post and you commenters are hilarious – in a good way. Thanks for the laughs!

    I’m surprised that Pastor Pence never donned a white suit, shirt, and tie to match his hair. Too obvious even for Pence?

    The overriding thing that you need to know about Pence is that he’s a sneaky SOB.

  20. Lester, white men come in all shades of the rainbow. I hope you give them credit for having egalitarians in their midst.
    Thanks to all for your thought provoking contributions to Sheila’s interesting blogs. I look forward to them every morning.

  21. I always thought Pence was a lightweight intellectually, ethically and every other way, but the one campaign photo that captured what a total load of manure he and wifey are was shot in front of a red barn, with a vintage pickup truck in the shot. Pence and Pious Karen are wearing jeans with turned-up cuffs and work shirts, posing with the barn and the pickup. I looked at that photo and wondered who the hell they thought they are kidding. Pence and Mother aren’t farmers. Aren’t rural types able to smell bullsh*t when they step in it, and don’t they realize they are being pandered to? Any “real” farmer knows you don’t use a shiny, restored vintage pickup to do “real” farm work or hauling. This photo was insulting to those who actually do real farm work or manual labor. As far as I know, Pence and Mother don’t even plant an urban garden. Their families aren’t farmers, either.

    And, as others said, how or why allegedly religious Pence could even stand in the vicinity of a serial divorcee for cheating on his wives, serial womanizer, cheater in business, notorious crook and thoroughly immoral being like Trump, much less hitch his wagon to his star, can’t be explained on any basis other than raw ambition. Everything about Trump conflicts with the alleged values of Evangelicals. Doesn’t ambition for the sake of attention, adulation and power conflict with Pence’s alleged moral values as an Evangelist? One of the funniest skits they did on SNL was the one in which they imagined a future without politics. Pence was a flamboyant gay DJ, dancing around, shirtless. It was hilarious. That was a dramatic and funny way of expressing what a total hypocrite Pence is.

    I have to ask: what constituency could Pence possibly appeal to? Failing to condemn Trump even after Trump instigated his faithful to hunt him for the purpose of lynching him, proves what a spineless wimp he is. He doesn’t even have the guts to speak out against the Big Lie. He wants to have his cake and eat it, too. How sad for Indiana that our most high-profile recent politicians are Dan Quayle and Mikey Pence.

  22. Super-sycophant Lindsey Graham wishes to adorn himself in the mantle that Pence discarded on Jan. 6. If his party can make up its mind whether it is conservative or Trumpian (no one has any idea what that means except for sociopathic, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, authoritarian and dismissive of democracy), he will delve deeper into the same scumbag role that has endeared him to South Carolina voters.

    Yesterday SC Republicans in the state legislature declared that they will weaponize the Bible and guns (aren’t they already weaponized?) and anti-education fervor and speech control to make our state the most conservative in America. I guess that means we will have to abandon our cherished state motto, which is “Thank God For Mississippi.”

    Many of SC’s politicians are irrevocably certifiable; in addition, we have a governor who gives Pence an ideological run for his money, a black Senator who thinks he is George Wallace, and a Covid vaccination rate that looks like it will never get to 50%. By giving away the taxpayers’ hard earned dollars we have become a manufacturing powerhouse (Boeing, Volvo, Mercedes, etc.). By waging war against critical thinking, we have assured we will never rise above 40th in state educational rankings. By surrendering to all that God tells us, we assure that we will remain superstition-based and exploitative of the poor and ignorant for all time. The slobbering incompetence of this crowd means they are beloved of the Republican Party, and will proudly continue to fill their role of telling America how to think about itself and its role in the world. You may have Quale and Pence, but we have Calhoun and Thurmond and that pair is hard to beat in the race to the bottom. And I’m pretty sure we invented the word “oleaginous.”

  23. Brenda – absolutely, absolutely….sorry if somehow you thought I meant something different.

    Otherwise – isn’t it fun to make up derisive names, comment on looks of those we don’t agree with? Hmmm…looks like the style of “The Former” is catching on! How about a bit of civility for a change? Too much to ask for the Fourth? Just sayin’

  24. Pence’s only rudder is ambition; he’s always wanted to be President. But there’s “no there, there” inside him. Whether worshiping Trump, lauding his faith, or declaring himself the defender of the Constitution, the truth is that he believes none of it. He’s only playing to whatever audience he thinks will promote his ambition. Because of this, he comes across as woefully insincere and artificial. Don’t think there’s really any voter that will go for that when decision-time really comes.

  25. Unfortunately, Pence does represent a substantial hunk of the Indiana Republican Party – a greedy group hiding behind religion to play plantation politics and a perfect target for such as Trump and other authoritarian figures. Pence should come back to Indiana and do drunk drivers and divorces in his hometown. I was never fooled by his raw drooling for power. Thus we are told that Trump wanted him dead on 1/6, but if my thinking is accurate Pence wanted Trump dead before that since he (Pence) could never win a national election on his own. Religion is a cover. He is a Trump in sheep’s clothing.

  26. Who’s this Mike Pence? I thought Ted Baxter was the vice president for four years.

  27. When Pence was being looked out for VP slot by Trump, it was reported Pence offered the evangelical conservative vote, knew the ropes in getting Bills passed in Congress and getting and maintaining donors i.e Koch brothers & friends. It was interesting that Trump’s 2nd campaign manager Manafort, now exposed as a conduit for Russian money through Ukraine, pushed for Pense for the VP slot.
    After the 2016 election, Pence was in charge of the transition team. There was lot of legal fallout during that time as exposed by the Mueller Report. Looks like Pence overlooked a lot that was going on under his purview, and like he was in the thick of the trump swamp from the start.

  28. We should not forget Pastor Pence was in charge of the Covid-19 response team.

    I had posted a Meme on my face book page which had a cartoon figure of Pastor Pence waving a bible at the Corona Virus and yelling – Get thee back, or something like that. The virus is smiling and saying – This will be so easy.

  29. Usually overlooked with Pence is the racism. Look up Pence and “Keith Cooper” on Google , and you can find the underreported story of 2016 Pence.

  30. No question it was a mistake for Mike Pence to hook up with Mr Trump.
    It is easy to talk of his mistakes and be critical of Mr Pence.
    However, the one thing we all need to take note of is
    When Mike Pence was being pressured to 1.overturn the election
    in Trump’s & his favor. 2.Defend and keep our Constitution.
    He choose to defend democracy and honor the will of the people.
    Mike Pence gets vote of thanks for doing the right thing when it
    really counted. Nobody can take that moment in history away from him.

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