Mike Pence is scary. He may even be scarier than Donald Trump. He is so polished, so suave, so capable of lying with conviction. And he represents so much that is dangerous in American politics.
His performance in last night’s vice presidential debate sent shivers down my spine.
With a condescending shake of his head, he repeatedly brushed away Tim Kaine’s attempts to make him defend Trump’s gaffes.
No, no, he said, over and over. Trump didn’t say that. And he knew there’s videotaped evidence that Trump did say that. He even denied one of his own videotaped statements, protesting that he didn’t say Vladimir Putin is “inarguably” a better leader than Barack Obama. His performance reminded me of Shaggy’s song, “It Wasn’t Me.”
Pence is a convincing liar, a polished liar – obviously a practiced liar.
He lied about the national debt, saying it has “doubled” during the Obama presidency. He lied about the Clinton Foundation, saying only 10 cents of every dollar it takes in goes to charity. He lied about Trump’s immigration proposals, saying he has been “completely consistent” in his plan to deal with illegal aliens.
He lied about Benghazi, about Hillary’s tax plan, about border security, about Obamacare…
He even – falsely – claimed that President Obama’s stimulus package, which helped to avert a global economic catastrophe, included $30 million for endangered mice in San Francisco!
Pence delivered his lies smoothly,even amiably, every inch the benign patrician. But that image, too, was a lie, perhaps the biggest lie of the night.
Pence is the kind of right-wing zealot who would take American society back a century or more. A zero-tolerance law-and-order advocate, he is a fervent opponent of abortion rights, women’s rights, gay rights…
He is anti-environment, anti-science, anti-free speech… He even defends smoking, insisting cigarettes don’t kill.
What we saw in last night’s debate was a polished elder statesman. But the real Mike Pence is someone else. Someone very, very scary.