Appointing Pence is not enough

Mike Pence is decent, talented and experienced. He is a true conservative: a happy warrior, for free markets, constitutional rights and for social conservatism. In every particular, therefore, he is the opposite of Donald Trump. Trump is not talented or decent and has no significant experience or knowledge. He is no sort of conservative, and is an angry ranter. The only policies on which he shows consistency are his support for far-left populist economics, tinged with crazy, conspiracy-addled, racism and bigotry. He is dismissive of constitutional rights. The one aspect of his personality this column finds remotely congenial – that he has no time for social conservatism – is marred by the fact that he is willing to pretend that he does in order to pursue his lunatic, narcissistic, quest for the presidency.

Pence became Trump’s running mate because he balances Trump. But a balance that is based on people with nothing of substance in common is a peculiar one indeed.

Pence was chosen over Chris Christie, who would have brought executive experience and Newt Gingrich who would have brought experience of congressional leadership. Pence brings both, though in slightly smaller measure. But to have served both as a governor and in the House leadership gives him a background which almost equals this columnist’s favored candidate, John Kasich. It is because the nominee is lacking in both legislative and executive experience that he chose a running mate who has both. 

But Pence brings other things, and decency is one of them. He has never been accused of using the power of the state to harass and bully his political opponents, as Christie has. Christie is also a social liberal. Pence takes social conservatism seriously in his personal life as well, unlike the thrice-married, philandering, Gingrich . . . and indeed Trump.

Can an appointment such as this reassure the many Trump skeptics?

Not to any significant degree. Pence is a quality choice, albeit one with whom Common Sense has some ideological differences. But merely showing us that he is capable of making some decent appointments is not much reassurance given that Trump himself is so erratic and untrustworthy. Perhaps a Trump cabinet would consist mostly of serious, competent, individuals. But that is a very low bar. It is just the basic starting point of constructing an administration. 

It is the president who heads the executive branch. For all Hillary Clinton’s claims to executive “experience”, she simply advised the man who made the strategic calls. In a Trump-Pence  administration that person would be Donald Trump. Even the most outstanding cabinet appointees would have to refer their decisions to Trump. 

If his laziness was of such a character that he would then accept the recommendations of his knowledgeable and talented cabinet secretaries then it would be a positive recommendation. But it is not. He is uninformed, determined to remain uninformed, and proud of his ignorance. But he still believes that he, and only he, should be making the major decisions. 

Even if Trump could present evidence that all his cabinet appointments would be as solid as this one, it would not be enough. He remains a ridiculous and clownish character, foolishly determined to make all the choices. 

Quentin Langley lives in New York and London and teaches at the University of Bedfordshire Business School

%d bloggers like this: