Condensed Pence: The Pretense of Making Sense

My two cents.

The NY Post has an interview (sort of–the way it is reported is rather stilted, if not unnecessarily choppy) with former veep and current presidential candidate, Mike Pence (Mike Pence promises to fire FBI Director Chris Wray, blasts ‘puppet master’ Soros in Post interview).

The first thing to strike me is the headline reference to Soros, which is plain and simply an anti-semitic trope. Shame on the Post for spotlighting it and shame on Pence for saying it. What’s amazing is that the piece cites the phrase “puppet master” three times: in the headline, in the caption of a large photo of Soros (as if that is somehow a central part of the interview), and once in the text, but that is all of the quote from Pence that is provided.

So, again, Pence brought the phrase to the table, but the Post is clearly trying to squeeze all it can from the trope.

Pence clearly wants to try and embrace all the good vibes that the GOP base has for the Trump administration while clumsily trying to differentiate himself.

“I’ll always be proud of the record of the Trump administration,” Pence said.

“I was always loyal to President Trump . . . right up until when my loyalty to the Constitution required me to do otherwise,” he added, alluding to his refusal to help overturn Trump’s 2020 presidential election defeat

This is pretty remarkable on a number of levels.

First, let’s not gloss over the fact that he is here admitting that, yes, he was asked by the former president to violate his loyalty to the Constitution. You’d think that would be a bigger schism than it appears to be. I mean, sure, he admits in the interview that he is no longer friends with Trump, but hey, they were probably never great buds to begin with.

Second, having admitted that he was asked to violate the Constitution he still wants to wrap himself in the record of the Trump administration! (Not surprising, to be sure, but as with most things Trump and Trump adjacent, the unsurprising can still be pretty amazing).

It is a rather strange dance, and I still maintain it underscores the impossibility of his candidacy.

Moreover, he goes on to detail a host of ways he differs from Trump (e.g., on Ukraine, on the deficit, on Social Security and Medicare, etc.).

He also is trying to thread the needle on Trump’s recent indictment.

Pence called the spectacle a “sad day for our country,” but also added that “the indictment includes serious charges, and I can’t defend what is alleged.”

But, at the same time,

…Pence was unsparing in his criticism of the Department of Justice and FBI.

“The American people have lost confidence in the Department of Justice. And if I’m president of the United States on day one, we’re going to clean house on the top floor of the Department of Justice and bring in a whole new group of people,” Pence said.

Among the Day 1 departures would be FBI Director Christopher Wray, who Pence promised to fire.

So, you know, the charges are serious and he won’t defend Trump, but he will clean house at the DoJ! This includes Trump’s own appointee to head the FBI.

The whole approach is an inartful mix of wanting to have his cake and eat it too. It is made all the worse by the way the Post reporter wrote up the interview (and man, their web site is just a bloated mess).

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    And if I’m president of the United States on day one, we’re going to clean house on the top floor of the Department of Justice and bring in a whole new group of people,” Pence said.

    No, I suspect that you won’t. And it will be for the same kinds of reasons that Obama found that he couldn’t close Gitmo. You’re going to discover that between the fact that there simply aren’t enough qualified people immediately available* and the process of getting the ones requiring Congressional approval approved that a top down housecleaning at any agency–but particularly at DOJ–is simply unworkable.

    *I may well be wrong, but I’m assuming that high-level government officials are not the equivalent of an adjunct faculty pool. Some of these people may well really be irreplaceable.

  2. Kathy says:

    Big words from a man who looks jealous of the microphone in the photo.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ah yes, the “puppet master Soros.” Never mind the Koch brothers, Harlan Crow, and all the other billionaire “puppet masters” pulling the GOP strings. Projection much?

    Steven, in case you haven’t noticed yet, it looks like you included your final comments inside a NYPost blockquote.

  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, it’s kind of a side note, but it looks to me like very few Republicans are now, a week out, saying the charges against Trump are weak. There’s a lot of whataboutism, and other stuff, but nobody now saying “Nah, nothing there”.

    As for Pence, I think it’s clear as day that he won’t ever be president. Maybe the point of his run this time is to say publicly, “I did the right thing on Jan 6”. Which he did.

  5. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: Geezus you almost made me spit out my coffee.

    /And I don’t even drink coffee

  6. CSK says:

    The MAGAs are radiant with contempt and loathing for Pence for betraying Trump on January 6, so he has no chance of garnering their votes.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I agree. Do you think it’s clear to Pence?

  7. Mikey says:

    Among the Day 1 departures would be FBI Director Christopher Wray, who Pence promised to fire.

    Of course he did. Every crook would love to be able to fire the chief of police.

  8. Kathy says:


    Thanks. But, really, the caption just writes itself.

  9. dazedandconfused says:

    Pence’s clumsy attempts at propaganda point to what may be his best feature, his utter guilelessness. So profound it’s almost charming. A simple man filled with simple thoughts.

    A born Sunday school teacher who umps the afternoon T-ball game. To borrow from Steppenwolf: He was born, born to be mild.

  10. gVOR10 says:

    Buzzfeed recently had the story on how Soros became a RW punching bag. As usual, it has little or nothing to do with reality and a lot to do with the conservative need for an enemy. Long story short, a pair of Republican political consultants were instrumental in winning Netanyahu’s first election. They expanded from there into Eastern Europe and then to Orban. They got him elected, and in the process weakened the socialists and far right to the point they were no longer sufficient bogeymen. One of the Republican consultants had a brainstorm and decided Soros would be exploitable as the enemy. So Orban got re-elected and the interconnected Right picked up on Soros as a handy enemy.

    Soros did nothing to deserve this. In fact he’d donated to Orban. These people don’t care whose lives they ruin, Lois Lerner, trans kids in FL, capitol cops, local election volunteers, George Soros. Pick someone, anyone, and demonize them.

    And it’s American Republicans who are spreading authoritarianism around the world. Disgustingly, these two Republican consultants are Jewish.

  11. Argon says:

    I can’t stop imagining Pence as a human shaped balloon filled with cottage cheese.

  12. Ken_L says:

    Of course Pence knows he can’t win, but he’s only 64. Running for president is the obvious way for him to remain an Important Republican, living a comfortable life paid for by donors, appearing on TV, mingling with the rich and famous etc. What else is he going to do?