Mike Pence is the evangelical wingnuts’ wingnut. Mike Pence doesn’t believe in God so much as he is convinced that God believes in him. Mike Pence began preaching his toxic mixture of politics and religion when he got a talk show on a tea kettle station in Rushville, Indiana some twenty years ago and if anything he’s gotten much worse. The Atlantic:
And then, all at once, Pence is back on message. In his folksy Midwestern drawl, he recites Republican aphorisms about “job creators” and regulatory “red tape,” and heralds the many supposed triumphs of Trump’s young presidency. As he nears the end of his remarks, his happy-warrior buoyancy gives way to a more sober cadence. “We’ve come to a pivotal moment in the life of this country,” Pence soulfully intones. “It’s a good time to pray for America.” His voice rising in righteous fervor, the vice president promises an opening of the heavens. “If His people who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray,” he proclaims, “He’ll hear from heaven, and He’ll heal this land!”
You haven’t heard anything until you’ve heard Pat Robertson or even better still Mike Huckabee intone how God sent His Messenger, Donald Trump, down from the mountaintop to save the righteous in 2016. If Robertson and Huckabee and their ilk are the architects of this asinine philosophy, Mike Pence is its daily scrivener.
In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.
Meanwhile, Pence’s presence in the White House has been a boon for the religious right. Evangelical leaders across the country point to his record on abortion and religious freedom and liken him to a prophet restoring conservative Christianity to its rightful place at the center of American life. “Mike Pence is the 24-karat-gold model of what we want in an evangelical politician,” Richard Land, the president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and one of Trump’s faith advisers, told me. “I don’t know anyone who’s more consistent in bringing his evangelical-Christian worldview to public policy.”
Trump entered the fold of the evangelicals because he was told to do so by the GOP televangelist high priests of the movement after it became clear that Ted Cruz was not going to win the nomination. At that time televangelist David Barton contacted Mike Pence’s hero, televangelist James Dobson, then the head of the vociferously anti-gay “Focus On The Family.” Barton told Dobson that Trump needed credentials as a Christian and Dobson announced a few weeks later at Trump Tower that Trump had been “saved” and “born again.” Those glad tidings were then pumped onto the airwaves of both the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Trinity Broadcasting Network and and Donald Trump’s evangelical star rose in the east. All that Trump needed then was the right vice president and lo and behold, Paul Manafort begat Mike Pence. And Mike Pence was fruitful.
The religious right began reaping the rewards of Trump’s victory almost immediately, when the president-elect put Pence in charge of the transition. Given wide latitude on staffing decisions, Pence promptly set about filling the federal government with like-minded allies. Of the 15 Cabinet secretaries Trump picked at the start of his presidency, eight were evangelicals. It was, gushed Ted Cruz, “the most conservative Cabinet in decades.” Pence also reportedly played a key role in getting Neil Gorsuch nominated to the Supreme Court.
Pence understood the price of his influence. To keep Trump’s ear required frequent public performances of loyalty and submission—and Pence made certain his inner circle knew that enduring such indignities was part of the job. Once, while interviewing a prospective adviser during the transition, Pence cleared the room so they could speak privately. “Look, I’m in a difficult position here,” Pence said, according to someone familiar with the meeting. “I’m going to have to 100 percent defend everything the president says. Is that something you’re going to be able to do if you’re on my staff?” (An aide to Pence denied this account.)
Trump does not always reciprocate this respect. Around the White House, he has been known to make fun of Pence for his religiosity. As Mayer reported in The New Yorker, he has greeted guests who recently met with Pence by asking, “Did Mike make you pray?” During a conversation with a legal scholar about gay rights, Trump gestured toward his vice president and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”
The veneer of Donald Trump’s faith can be obliterated on any given day with a careless brush of a fingernail. Be that as it may, the evangelicals are thrilled that they are this close to the theocracy of which they dream and which they believe that Trump/Pence assures them. They see no irony in the concept of fascism being wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross, to them that is business as usual and moreover, business as it should be. In their minds, fascism is a character who has been misunderstood, because all encompassing paternalistic dominance is to them the natural order of the universe and the nature of God Himself. Many evangelical women have said that they would “happily give up the vote because men are so awesome,” and it’s a short hop from there to donning Servo-wives’ costumes.
If there is a festering cancer in this society, it is this atrocious group of people and their even more horrific standard bearers, Roy Moore, towering amongst them — and Mike Pence, however demurely he attempts to distance himself and incongruously play Washington outsider.Make no mistake, Mike Pence is a poisonous asp.