The Shadow President—Another Liberal Hit Job – By Amanda S. Green
Well, I’m at it again. This time, I’ve chosen the recently released “The Shadow President” by Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner. Now, the subtitle to the book tells us everything we really need to know. “The Truth About Mike Pence”. Well, perhaps it should be “The Truth As We Want You to Believe” but I’ll let you decide. I’ll also be honest. I don’t know if I will be able to get all the way through this. The authors make no attempt to hide their bias. But maybe I’m just cranky.
Let’s take care of a couple of things before we get started. I am reading this as an e-book. All quotes below, come from the first chapter of the book. That chapter’s title? “The Sycophant.” Yeah, they aren’t biased at all.
As for the authors, D’Antonio wrote, among others, “The Truth About Trump” and “A Consequential President: The Legacy of Barack Obama”. Eisner, on the other hand, has mainly written books about World Word II until now. At least he doesn’t, on the surface, have a political score to settle with Trump.
And now for the book.
From the beginning, the authors make it clear their disdain not only for Trump but for Pence himself. Yes, much of this first chapter is spent taking jabs at the president. That doesn’t surprise me. But, damn, these guys have a hard-on for Pence. At least they begin on Inauguration Day. Apparently, if we had been paying close enough attention, we’d have seen just how dangerous Mike Pence is to the nation. The first clue came when he stepped forward to take his Oath of Office.
What was that clue, you ask? Pence chose Clarence Thomas, “one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in U. S. history,” to administer the oath of office. But, just in case we missed it, the authors say the “symbolism was complete” when Pence placed his hand on Ronald Reagan’s Bible as part of the oath. I guess it’s a sin or something in the eyes of liberals to have a Conservative administer an oath of any sort and we all know touching anything that was Reagan’s is evil. (Yes,yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek and I am rolling my eyes so hard there’s a danger they’ll roll out of my skull, across the floor and outside.)
But it gets better. After taking the oath, Pence did what every other new vice-president has done since the beginning of our country. He hugged his family, shook hands with those present and then stepped back to wait as the president-elect took his own oath of office. Except the authors couldn’t leave it at that. “Pence struck his humility pose—brow furrowed, mouth downturned, eyes focused on some distant point—as he had on countless public occasions.” What? Would they prefer he puff out his chest, ala Superman, and stand, hands on hips, jaw thrust out?
It would be easy to simply quote each paragraph of the chapter and take it apart. However, I don’t have the stomach for it. Besides, at least for this first chapter, it all comes down to this: Pence is evil because he male, white, Conservative and Christian.
According to the authors, Pence’s “self-declared identity revealed both his priorities and the source of his power.”
What were these priorities and the so-called “source of his power”?
It seems Pence spent 30 years leading the party into a close relationship with those members of the clergy who wanted to take evangelical Christianity into a “political crusade that engaged in a culture war against nonbelievers”. While the authors don’t say—yet—that Pence’s goal was to defeat abortion laws, remove protections for gays and “prepare the nation for the Second Coming of Christ”, they strongly allude to it.
Note also how it is wrong for evangelicals Christians to have strong beliefs and feel those beliefs have a place in politics and yet there is not even a passing nod to Sharia law, etc., all of which liberals seem to have no problem letting into our way of life.
But they don’t stop at the Christian aspect of their condemnation of Pence. They, like so many “good” liberals, have to go for the money (read evil, rich white men) aspect as well.
“Pence’s allies in his war included hugely wealthy donors who, despite their vast wealth, accumulated at a time of historic inequality, also posed as victims. As libertarians in the mold of Ayn Rand’s cardboard characters they felt inhibited by in the pursuit of even greater riches by a government that imposed foolish regulations and would redistribute their wealth to the supposedly indolent poor.”
This, the authors claim, led to the denial of science aimed at “environmental protection”—their fancy way of saying climate change, or global warming or maybe even the Al Gore effect. Oooh, and these evil libertarian rich folks, the Ayn Rand cardboard cutouts, demanded tax cuts to protect themselves. Evil, evil rich men who demanded “massive reductions” in all those programs that served anyone who wasn’t rich.
Are you getting the picture yet?
“The victimhood claimed by both the libertarians and the Christian Right permitted the construction of an alternate reality that denied their own power and masked their ambition to make politics and culture conform to an ideology that included white Christian supremacy and predatory Capitalism. It also denied the progress they had made in their construction of their own political might.”
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Alternate reality”? Really?
But the authors can’t leave it at that. They once again have to get back to their digs at Trump as well. This time, they return to Inauguration Day and the end of Trump’s speech. The authors pull the widely reported quote from George W. Bush. You remember that quote. “That was some weird shit.” But it isn’t enough to just report what the former president said. The authors have to continue with their editorializing. “Weird was the mildest word one could attach to the forty-fifth president of the United States as he launched an administration.”
So what was Pence supposed to do in this new administration? According to the authors, he faced the so-called historic and “daunting” challenge of “dealing with an erratic and undisciplined commander in chief.” It was a role where he would, from the beginning, “seek to be a stabilizing force in a government rocked by presidential whims and mood swings.”
Then, just to be sure we don’t forget just how troubled—and troubling—the current Administration is, we have the mandatory dig at Pence regarding the Mueller probe:
“What did Pence himself know of the Russian scandal and all the efforts made by the president to stop the investigation? Was he one of Mueller’s targets? Could Pence survive scrutiny if a scandal or crime forced Trump out?”
All valid questions, but then comes the innuendo this chapter and, I assume this book, is filled with. After all, you can’t do a hatchet job without it if there are not facts to back you up. “Within weeks of Mueller’s appointment, Pence hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent him in the probe.” Ooh, bad Pence. He must be guilty or have guilty knowledge because he hired a lawyer.
In one of those topical jumps that seem to be inherent in books like this, we are suddenly back to Pence and his faith. This time, we have an anonymous source—don’t you just love those? In this particular instance, an unnamed aide, someone the authors call one of the vice-president’s “closest aides”, said Pence believed he could bring Trump to Jesus and was ready to do whatever it took to save Trump’s soul. They go on to contrast Luther’s theology and the belief that their (conservative Christians) faith made their actions righteous to Aristotle’s belief that “good deeds make a good man.” Of course, falls in line with their stance that Pence basically believes in predestination and how that means God intended for Trump to be elected. Pence’s role, according to the authors, is to play “Daniel” to Trump’s “king of Babylon.”
“As the pastor of Pence’s church back home in Indiana once explained, the wily Daniel occupied a place ‘like the vice presidency’ and served both God and the king of Babylon. As the king, Trump could be dangerous and disturbing, but the threat was less frightening with Daniel, or rather Mike, by his side.”
Finally, we get back to that “pose of humility” they started with. “Humble superiority had been Pence’s default setting during his twelve years in Congress and four as Indiana’s governor….” And bad Pence, he’d alienated some of his fellow Republicans because of his attitude. He could be harsh in how he treated his opponents. Golly gee whiz, he’s stubborn and he actually believes in something instead of just saying he does and then proving the opposite. How dare he have principles he holds dear.
The authors then spend what seems like a great deal of time comparing Pence to Joe Biden. Biden who, you know, reassured everyone that he was the leveling and steadying hand behind Obama. Except, of course, when he was groping the nearest woman. But Pence, with his strong Christian values, wasn’t nearly as good of an influence as Biden because he hadn’t sponsored all those bills in Congress like Biden had. Pence, you see, is a power-hungry Christian, more focused on climbing the ladder than being a good politician like Biden. Oh, and let’s not forget how wonderful it was that Biden was “an openly emotional man who made his feelings plain at every occasion” (remember all those photos of him groping women?) as opposed to the always composed and distant Pence (who is smart enough not to be alone with a woman who isn’t his wife in this age of #MeToo!).
Oh, and Pence is bad because in one political race—ONE—he supposedly “smeared” his Democratic opponent and, according to the authors “used his campaign’s checkbook to pay his own personal bills.” Wow, as if no other candidate, and no Democrat, had ever done anything like that before. I don’t know about you, but I can name any number of candidates, especially Dems, who have smeared their opponents or misappropriated funds.
Here’s where I wanted to finally plant the tablet against the wall. The so-called telling moment about Pence and his character came for the authors when he “claimed Charles Colson as his mentor.” For those of us old enough to remember Watergate, Colson is a familiar name. What the authors never do, at least not in this context, is say when and where Pence said this about Colson. Oh, they do finally admit that Pence might have seen Colson as a “dear friend and mentor” once he became a born-again Christian, but the disdain and disrespect is there for all to see. The footnote they finally give close to a page of condemnation of Pence for his so-called association with Colson is ‘For Christian supremacy, see Jeremy Scahill, “Mike Pence Will Be the Most Powerful Christian Supremacist in U.S. History,’” with the appropriate links, etc. Sounds like a nice, unbiased report to me. Doesn’t it to you?
If you guys want, I’ll continue with the book. But the call is yours. Who knows? The authors might surprise me and actually cite a few facts to back their claims about Pence. Shall we see? Or would you rather me move on to something else? (If so, what?)
For now, I need coffee and some mental bleach to get this dreck out of my head. Until later!
(Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking the unbelievable twaddle that passes for deep political thought these days. We’ll collect for her liver transplant later. Hit her Pourboir jar now! – SAH)