There’s been a lot of discussion about Monday night’s Vice-Presidential candidate debate, and I had a thought I wanted to throw out there. Pence came across in the debate as a disciplined conservative messanger – because he is. He was in talk radio for a long time, he’s a dedicated conservative ideologue. He has a strong network that includes the Koch brothers, among many others. He spent most of the debate deflecting and denying – Tim Kaine basically tried to get him to take responsibility for Trump’s positions, and Pence dealt with that in the usual way. It’s weird, too, because I think if Hillary had to face Pence in a debate, she would have been in serious trouble. He’s really hard to pin down, and he’s able to sound reasonable, and even thoughtful. Because he was able to keep his cool, and not cop to anything Kaine tried to hit him with, a lot of commentators said that Pence won the debate. Whether or not this helps Trump is another story.
What Pence did that I thought was interesting was that he acted like the reasonable Dad figure apologizing for the belligerent racist uncle at the family barbeque. Out of loyalty, out of a sense of duty, or whatever, he defends what is obviously unacceptable. And the thing is that Trump wants to have the job of being in charge, but he doesn’t want to do the work of being in charge – it’s more or less where most of the Republican electorate is at. But you have a few folks, like Pence, who want to be in charge so they can privatize the system. I don’t think most Republicans really understand that, or even care. That’s how you can have Trump promise massive tax cuts and infrastructure projects (like a gigantic border wall) and a balanced budget and the maintenance of Social Security and Medicare…and a pony! Pence knows very well that what he really wants is socially conservative legislation with deep cuts to government (i.e. abortion will be technically illegal, but anybody with an upper class income can always take a “vacation” to Switzerland). But he can always make it sound like what he wants is perfectly sensible. Guys like him are why the politics of Trump aren’t going anywhere, even if Hillary does win. They’re also the reason why I like her so much – she knows what she’s doing, she knows how the system works, and she won’t just let the GOP just collapse the Federal government.