President Ronald Reagan with future Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in 1988.
Between the Lines / By Peter McDermott
The Pence family were on one side Irish Catholic Democrats and, according to a New Yorker article of a couple years back, quite laid back with a great sense of humor. What happened to Mike? Not sure, but we do know that his transition proved to be a bitter disappointment for his mother.
Still, so far, being an evangelical Protestant and conservative Republican has served Pence well in life. He was elected to the No. 2 political job in the country, which is less important for what you do that what you are: a heartbeat from being No. 1.
Pence has never been wildly popular, it has to be said. He was part of a national ticket that lost the popular vote by 3 million votes to Clinton/Kaine, and he isn’t regarded with any greater affection after 1,000 days in office that he was on Election Day, 2016.
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Certainly, he’s not your average New Yorker’s cup of coffee. And yet, I’m guessing in the midst of the current disaster, most would rather his was the face of the administration they saw each day and not the guy from Queens. (Trump may sound and act like Archie Bunker sometimes, but Archie’s parents didn’t transfer by fair means and foul hundreds of millions of dollars to their “self-made” son.)
Indeed, the New York City media should insist it’s Pence or Dr. Anthony Fauci. The science skeptic or the scientist — one or other, or both together. Because what we have now has proven utterly calamitous and will keep on making things worse, much worse.
A boycott from New York media could sound like this: until we’re satisfied that our nurses, docs and other people risking their lives on the frontlines are getting the PPE and ventilators they need, then we will not use any visual imagery or direct quotes from DJT. Pence, yes, or Fauci, or both.
We killed the de facto No. 2 in Iran to save American lives, supposedly. Why can’t we, with by far the biggest military budget in the history of the planet, organize the saving of lives on the home front?
Instead, the Defense Production Act is all about “will he, won’t he?” It’s dragged out. It’s a melodrama. Feuds with governors, heated words with journalists at press conferences. Empty drivel about masks going out the backdoor of hospitals. Hidden stockpiles of ventilators. Trump doesn’t say, as any decent human being would, “Tell me what do you need and we’ll do everything on our power to get it to you”; rather it’s “Show me the respect and appreciation I’m entitled to.”
A some point earlier on in life, Trump figured out that as long as he was hogging the limelight, he had a better than evens chance of prevailing. And now at the highest levels of political life he can rely on Hoax Hannity and other media minions, political nonentities such as Jordan and Nunes and bloodless apparatchiks like McConnell to help keep him in place.
He’d be in trouble if the media actually focused on the frontline nurses, MDs and hospital staff generally, and on the sick and dying and their families. Might that cost too much money? Perhaps disgraced CBS chief Leslie Moonves let slip the real reason for the emphasis in 2016: love him or hate him, Trump is good for media business. So, let him have his spotlight.
Only a few top journalists — David Cay Johnston is one — have reported directly on Trump’s flagrant disregard for human life. What ever happened to William Trump? When he was a desperately ill infant in the hospital 20 years ago, his Granduncle Donald cut off his medical insurance in a family spat over a will. In a just world William Trump, who has cerebral palsy, would be as well known as Willie Horton was a dozen years before his birth.
And has anyone tried to track down members of the “Polish Brigade,” the workers who helped build Trump Tower without proper protective gear? Even the mob lawyers involved thought Donnie was running a big risk there.
He got away with it, just as he feels people would look the other way if he shot some guy on Fifth Avenue. If such an incident resulted in death it would, of course, be a tragedy. But 200,000 lives lost to Covid-19? I think Stalin would’ve called that a statistic.