Have You No Honor, Mike Pence?
On the failure of the former vice president to testify and serve his country
We learned yesterday that the Fulton County, Georgia special grand jury roundly rejected the lies of election fraud perpetrated by Donald Trump and his enablers in their effort to hold onto power. “We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election," the jury asserted in one of several portions of their report released on Thursday.
We also learned that a majority of the jury believes that “one or more witnesses testifying before it” may have committed perjury. Their recommendation: District Attorney Fani Willis should “seek appropriate indictments for such crimes where the evidence is compelling.”
That sounds like good news, progress even, leaving us to wonder what DA Willis meant when she said her decision was imminent. Add to that the announcements this week that Special Counsel Jack Smith had filed subpoenas for former VP Mike Pence and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Yet after years and years of yearning from those of us who believe that no one should be above the law and that justice delayed is justice denied, the failure to see any indictment for Individual #1—aka the lead insurrectionist, aka Mar-a-Lago’s classified documents robber, aka chief propagandist of the Big Lie of election fraud (to name a few)—has become a source of growing exhaustion and intensified expectation that this will all lead to more delay and more unrequited optimism. O Merrick Garland, wherefore art thou?
With that in mind, I thought it useful to reflect on the fantasizing Mike Pence who somehow imagines that one day he could be President of the United States. You remember this man, the unctuous VP, the servile one, he of the adoring gaze. This was the man who stood by Trump’s side, praising him again and again for his “broad shoulders” and “broad-shouldered leadership.” He did it so often (New York magazine counted 17 times in 2016 and 2017) he had to deny he was fixated on his leader’s masculinity.
That was only one of many exaggerated expressions by Pence of Trump’s special qualities. Even after Trump exploited the pandemic and the struggle to acquire ventilators, masks and other resources to pit governors against governors and prioritize Republicans, Pence served up this laughable claim at the Republican convention in August 2020: “President Trump marshaled the full resources of our federal government from the outset. He directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both political parties.”
In that same acceptance speech, Pence also asserted, “The hard truth is...you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line.” That was before the deadly insurrection and Capitol attack on January 6, when over 140 police officers were injured—only to be abandoned by Trump who sided with that day’s “patriots.”
And even after that violent day when Pence did his duty and certified the election— even after his life was endangered by an angry mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence” because the man he served incited this ugly threat—the former vice president has refused to serve his country and the Constitution that he professes to love by testifying about what he saw and what he knows.
In the months that followed January 6, 2021, Pence focused on blaming the media for its desire to “demean the character and intentions” of Trump supporters. “I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” Pence told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
And when, two years later, he is called by Special Counsel Jack Smith to testify before the grand jury investigating that day? He complains about “Biden’s DOJ subpoena” and plans to argue a novel notion—that he’s immune from testifying as a result of the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause that protects legislators because he was presiding in the Senate when counting the electoral vote. In other words, slow down the wheels, gum up the works, avoid responsibility.
I urge you to pause and consider: Say your boss incited an angry mob to chant for your murder and your response, then and now, is to protect him from justice. What kind of person would you be?
I get it. He dreams of being president. God forbid he angers the cultist base. God forbid he testifies under oath and tells the truth, providing the necessary witness to finally drive a nail in the Trump coffin. God forbid all those people who were convinced to chant for his hanging might not love him, or worse, won’t vote for him.
Yes, we can spill more ink, spin more pixels and spend more time dissecting the legal calculations, political machinations and character failings that are likely motivating Pence’s failure to act with principle. But at some point, we have to turn from the finer points of logic and law and simply ask:
Have you no self-respect, Mike Pence? Have you no honor, sir? A weary nation beseeches you to do the right thing.
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