Since Trump has become president, he has bombarded the American people with tweet after tweet, threatening everything from an end to health care access to nuclear war.
Through all this, we have seen the rise and fall of Sean Spicer and our very own Anthony Scaramucci. We have seen the public humiliation of Senator Mitch McConnell and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Even Reince Priebus has fallen, replaced by General John F. Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. The entirety of Trump’s White House has grown notorious. All, but Vice President Mike Pence. Where has Mike Pence been? What has he been doing? Does he actually do anything? Is he even the vice president? Harry Truman, the 34th vice president of the United States, once said, “Look at all the Vice Presidents in history. Where are they? They were about as useful as a cow’s fifth teat.” Let’s see if President Truman was right.
As the second most powerful person in the country, one would think it’d be difficult to disappear. Yet, Mike Pence has done just that. In May, he had lunch with Turkish President Erdogan. In July, while the Republican healthcare debacle unfolded, Pence held a listening session with small-business owners in Cleveland, Ohio. Otherwise, Pence has been absent from the public eye, and from potentially reputation-crushing actions. Through each of Trump’s gaffes, Pence has acted as if everything was normal. Through Charlottesville, North Korean exchanges and now the battle between Trump and the NFL, Pence has managed to remain blissfully and purposefully ignorant. Doing so has allowed him to hold onto his reputation and become dissociated with the chaos in Trump’s White House.
In a turn of events this week, Mike Pence publicly appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill. Pence explained he can’t guarantee anything. When asked whether the bill would cover pre-existing conditions, he responded, “Thomas Jefferson said ‘Government that governs least governs best…'” The question people ought to ask is: Who do you think will be more responsive to the health care needs in your community? Your governor and your state legislature or a congressman and a president in a far-off nation’s capital?” Pence promises nothing, deflecting responsibility of healthcare coverage to the states. Still, a public statement is a major step for Pence, even if his Thomas Jefferson quote is really from Henry David Thoreau.
Mike Pence exudes boring. He is the classic, old and white conservative dad from middle America. Through this lens, we discover that Pence may simply be doing what he does best: sitting in the background. Pete Seat, an official with the Indiana Republican Party, said, “[Pence] understands … his job is to be a loyal soldier.” Pence has remained loyal to Trump by neither opposing nor supporting his policies. Ultimately, complacency is the same as outright support.
Hopefully, Pence will rise to surpass the standard of being nobody. Or not. It probably doesn’t matter anyway.