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Defying irony, Pence accuses Dems of downplaying their agenda

Does Mike Pence really want to pick a fight over which party is eager to talk about their agenda? He may not like where the discussion ends up.
Image: US-POLITICS-VOTE-REPUBLICANS
Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore, Maryland, Aug. 26, 2020.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

It'd be difficult to summarize every error of fact and judgment in Vice President Mike Pence's Republican convention speech last night, though there are plenty of good fact-checking pieces available this morning, highlighting some of the Hoosier's more egregious falsehoods. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson noted that the speech was so at odds with reality, the columnist was compelled to ask, "What country does Vice President Pence live in?"

There was one line, however, toward the end of the Republican's remarks, that jumped out at me.

"My fellow Americans, we are passing through a time of testing. Soon, we will come to a time for choosing. Joe Biden has referred to himself as a transition candidate, and many were asking, 'Transition to what?' Last week, Democrats did not talk very much about their agenda. And if I were them, I wouldn't either."

Part of the problem, of course, is that Democrats actually spent a fair amount of time last week talking about their agenda. Joe Biden devoted a chunk of his acceptance speech to outlining how he'd address the coronavirus pandemic -- the crisis that Pence is ostensibly overseeing the response to.

But even putting that aside, it was more than a little jarring hearing the vice president complain about Democrats downplaying their agenda given the fact that Pence and his party still don't have an agenda.

Last week, for example, Democrats -- after a deliberative process that was at times acrimonious -- approved a 91-page platform. Voters who want to know what the party would do if given a chance to govern can read, evaluate, and scrutinize at their leisure.

Those who aren't inclined to read the whole document, but who are nevertheless interested in the Democratic ticket's governing vision, can visit the Biden/Harris website -- which, as of this morning, has a robust issues page, fleshing out the Democrats' plans and blueprints in 45 different policy areas.

It's not as if the Democratic vision is some kind of secret, being kept under wraps in the hopes of avoiding public scrutiny. On the contrary, the party appears broadly proud of its agenda.

Looking across the partisan divide, however, we see Mike Pence's party, which, for the first time since before the Civil War, didn't bother to produce a platform at all.

As we discussed the other day, the president's re-election campaign did release a 50-point bulleted list of Trump's priorities for the next four years, but to call the list an agenda would be far too generous: it included goals such as "return to normal in 2021" and "protect our veterans."

These hardly count as half-written tweets, much less elements of an incumbent president's governing agenda.

And as much as I'd love to link to the issues page on the Trump/Pence website, which should include plenty of plans and blueprints for voters to consider as the Republicans seek another four years in power, no such page currently exists -- because the GOP campaign apparently didn't see the point in creating one.

Complicating matters, Donald Trump has been asked repeatedly in recent interviews what he intends to do if he's rewarded with another four years, and in every instance, the president struggled mightily to answer.

Does Pence really want to pick a fight over which party is eager to talk about their agenda?