Imagine if, in 2008, the world knew everything about Sarah Palin up front. Imagine that from the moment she walked onstage for the first time as John McCain’s running mate, we all knew about the pink rifles, the oh, you betchas, the bible literalism and the blatant hypocrisy.
Would McCain have received any electoral votes? Probably a few. But in 2016, the kind of rhetoric being tossed around makes Palin look like she has the rhetorical skills of Cicero, the political fortitude of Lincoln and the conscience of Jiminy Cricket. And all of that was before Donald Trump unveiled his running mate.
Indiana governor Mike Pence seems to have been chosen based on two simple questions: Is this person more reactionary than the Donald? Will he try to upstage the Donald at any point?
With the answer to the first question a resounding yes (wait until we get to his batshit policy) and the second a laugh-coughed “hell no” (If you don’t come from Indiana and knew who he was before last week, you get bonus points), Donald seems to have found the latest in a series of Republican Alpha lapdogs.
After bringing Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich into the fold, Trump realized that either one of these men would bring things to the campaign that he didn’t feel he needed—namely, personalities of their own.
No matter what happens at the RNC’s second day—for example, Ben Carson could ignorantly compare being genderqueer to “changing [one’s] race” (What’s that? He did? Well, that’s unsurprising)—the tone has already been set for the Odd Couple arrangement of Mikey and The Donald™. On Nightline last week, Donald took the opportunity to introduce his Vice Presidential candidate to the world for the first time by talking about how great he is.
I’m sorry. That was an ambiguous sentence. Let’s try again: Last week, Donald introduced his VP candidate, Mike Pence, by talking about how great Donald Trump is. That’s better.
When Pence was called on to speak he demurred like a child afraid of the swift crack of an adult backhand. Should we revive a program of torture that proved ineffective and damaging? “I don’t think we should ever tell the enemy what our tactics are.” When he wasn’t deflecting, he was squatting before the Donald, applying a Turtle Wax shine to his perfectly normal-sized man bag with no small amount of elbow grease.
“Talking with him in private settings...this man is awed with the American people, and he is not intimidated by the world. And Donald Trump, this good man, I believe, will be a great president of the United States.” This good man. Laying it on thick, aren’t we? Almost like someone else wrote—or stole, as we’ve seen is entirely possible, so go ahead and add plagiarism to the list of crimes Trump’s campaign can commit and not lose a bit of the support of their mob—the sentiment. Right on time, after the briefest and most humble of pauses, Donald smiles, leans in to upstage Pence for the nth time, and says, “I love what he just said.”
This is the republican nominee for president. Just a reminder, president of the U.S. isn’t one of those ceremonial things. We don’t have a prime minister who handles policy while the president plays dress up and hosts parties, no matter what George W. Bush might have been told by Dick Cheney. If we elect this guy, he actually has power. Just something to think about.