During his tenure as vice president, Mike Pence went to ridiculous lengths to demonstrate loyalty toward Donald Trump. His obsequiousness was not rewarded: the former president demanded that Pence ignore the law and reject the results of the electoral college vote on Jan. 6. When the then-vice president said he had to honor the Constitution, Trump turned on him with a vengeance.
Indeed, during the deadly insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, as Trump followers hunted Pence with the likely intention of doing him harm -- they literally chanted, "Hang Mike Pence" -- the former president published another tweet, condemning the then-vice president for lacking the "courage" to ignore the law.
A Washington Post analysis recently noted that Trump "picked the rioters over his vice president." Even after the Capitol was cleared, the then-president didn't reach out to Pence to check on his wellbeing.
Two months later, Pence finds himself in a deeply strange position: after more than a decade as a reliably far-right congressman, six years as a reliably far-right governor, and four years as a reliably far-right vice president, the Republican Hoosier is seen in some GOP circles as the member of Team Trump who betrayed the cause at a key moment.
And how, pray tell, does Pence intend to deal with such ridiculous circumstances? Especially as he considers a possible national candidacy of his own? By toeing the party line, of course. TPM noted this morning:
Even after his life was endangered during the Capitol insurrection earlier this year that then-President Trump incited, former Vice President Mike Pence has begun boosting the same election falsehoods that incensed the rioters. In an op-ed published in The Daily Signal on Wednesday, Pence falsely described the 2020 election as "marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law."
He added that he "shares the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election."
The full op-ed is online here. It includes Pence's attack on the Democrats' "For the People Act," which is intended to, among other things, expand voters' access to their own democracy. The Indiana Republican, however, insisted that "leftists" intend to "silence and censor anyone who would dare to criticize their unconstitutional power grab."
He didn't appear to be kidding. A member of Team Trump actually feels comfortable accusing others of launching an "unconstitutional power grab."
Indeed, let's not miss the forest for the trees: the Republican Party's "Big Lie" about the 2020 presidential election literally put Pence in harm's way, and yet, Pence is nevertheless choosing to echo the misinformation, on the record and in print.
The former vice president must realize that there were no "significant voting irregularities" last year, and even Trump administration officials found that "the integrity of the 2020 election" is not in doubt, but Pence nevertheless feels the need to play along, lending credence to claims he surely knows to be untrue.
I have no idea if this will help him curry favor with his pro-Trump critics, but it's amazing that Pence thinks the effort is worth endorsing some of the same false ideas that put him in danger.