Don’t Pine for Pence

Jane Mayer is an extremely talented investigative reporter. She wrote Dark Money, which traces the long term strategy and huge investment which the Koch brothers have made since 2008 to promote libertarian causes. Among those causes are deregulation of the energy sector, where Koch Industries makes its money, and abolishing the estate tax, which will save the brothers billions of dollars.

Mike Pence is a Koch network boy. So, to my surprise, are a lot of Trump cabinet-level appointees: Betsy deVos, Scott Pruitt, Don McGahn, Mike Pompeo.

Pence is a really bad combination of doctrinaire ideologue, keen political ambition, a mediocre intellect, and a highly deficient moral sense.  He was in deep political trouble as Indiana’s governor, mostly for having forced through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which make it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people who lived in the state. Business revolted. The legislature passed a less discriminatory version of the bill, and Pence signed it. Both sides were angry: those who supported civil rights for all Indiana citizens, and the right wing religious conservatives who thought Pence had compromised to save his political skin. He was not expected to win re-election, and then he was discovered by Trump.

Pence is right out of central casting for a political figure, and he says mean and ugly things in a soft voice and with a smile. In that he’s more palatable than Trump, which may make him even more dangerous. He’s no improvement on what we now contend with, as Mayer’s reporting makes clear.

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