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The Pence Gambit

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By Henry Fuseli – The Yorck Project.

Some thoughts on Mike Pence; note from the start that this is far from a “Mike Pence and the GOP must save us from Donald Trump” kind of post…

There are currently 290 serving Republicans in the US Congress, and probably 270 would prefer President Pence to President Trump. This is not to overstate GOP opposition to Trump, or to suggest that Republican legislators will serve as a meaningful impediment to his agenda, or to imply that they won’t be happy to use the Trump presidency to accomplish their policy ends. It simply means that we are in the genuinely unusual position of having a majority Congress in which the strong majority of members would prefer the Vice President over the President.

Obviously, this makes impeachment more likely, which is different than saying it makes impeachment likely.

Of all the avenues by which we can imagine Trump getting impeached, I think that the Russia investigations hold the greatest danger. There may yet be some very interesting stuff; notwithstanding the new admiration for Putin in the rank and file, Russian electoral interference remains generally unpopular; Trump’s position on Russia is not widely held within the GOP legislative cohort.

Depending on your perspective, Mike Pence either took one for the team when he agreed to serve as Trump’s running mate, or made a high-odds gamble on success of the campaign. Thus, he’s essentially playing with house money. In the first weeks of the administration, Mike Pence has taken strong, visible steps to distance himself from the Russia Problem. He has repeatedly made speeches about Russia that hew much closer to the traditional GOP line on Moscow than to Trump’s accommodationist approach. He was apparently critical to the execution of Mike Flynn, and in the best possible way; he demonstrated that he had been cut out of the distribution circle and decision-making process regarding Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Right now, Pence is a hefty insurance policy on a mobbed-up, fire-prone restaurant. The GOP appreciates the dangers associated with burning the restaurant down, and will avoid doing so unless pressed. But the insurance policy is very nice indeed, and if push comes to shove, nobody will have to shove all that hard to get a sufficient number of GOP legislators to think about impeachment. The content of the shove would involve collapsing Presidential approval ratings, poor performance in special elections, and anything particular explosive coming out of the various Russia investigations. Because of the role that Congress plays in the investigative process, the former two make the latter more likely.

Impeaching Trump is only possible if the GOP is in trouble, and by itself will not save the Republicans, although it may help. Presidential approval ratings went from 24 to 71 in a day when Gerald Ford replaced Richard Nixon.  Polarization, and the fact that Pence is more identified with Trump than Ford was with Nixon, will make such improvement impossible, but there would still likely be some increase. Such a move might do significant damage to the party, in so far as it would alienate Trump’s hardcore supporters (and unless he goes to prison*, Trump will presumably be vocal and angry about his dismissal).

The incentives for Pence at this point are clear.  He needs to stay as far away as he can from Trump on Russia.  This means continuing to hold to the traditional GOP line, but also making sure that the flow of information is under strict control.  I do not doubt that Pence’s staffers have already been instructed to be extremely careful about the kind of information on Russia that crosses the VP’s desk. If Pence can plausibly depict himself as out of the loop, it makes it very hard to implicate him in the scandal (see also George H.W. Bush and Iran-Contra).  Note that this also means that anyone in the administration fighting against the Trump-Bannon line on Russia will not be able to count on Pence as a reliable ally, as it’s likely that Pence will simply distance himself, rather than engage.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s good or bad if the GOP decides to impeach Trump in favor of Pence. At this point, I’m genuinely more frightened of the damage that Trump could cause than the damage I’m sure Pence would cause, and so I’d “welcome” the ascension of the latter. But a Pence administration is likely to restore a degree of popularity to the GOP (at least in the short term), and it’s almost certain that Pence will be more effective in formulating an agenda and in working with Congress than Trump.  Rock and a hard place, hell or high water, Trump or Pence…

*Do not ever take seriously a story that uses, as its main source, the tweets of John Schindler.

 

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  • Marshall_timbers

    But, at the end of the day, Pence doesn’t start World War 3 with China via Twitter, and we are spared the detailed, real time (until the internet goes kaplut) accounts of cities being vaporized in real time.

    • DrDick

      This sort of thing is exactly, and only, why I am less frightened of Pence in the White House. On everything else he is at least as bad and much more competent, but he is unlikely to start WWIII.

      • Shalimar

        Based on his sterling leadership in Indiana, I don’t know that we can say Pence is even remotely competent. Less chaotic and more predictable, sure.

        • one of the blue

          Friend of mine described it this way. Trump is a hostile lunatic with no friends. Pence is a hostile lunatic with lots of friends.

  • brad

    Someone here compared it to being ruled by lawful evil vs chaotic evil, which in policy terms is true, but in terms of likelihood of batshit insane actions leading to mass death something of an equivocation.
    Mike Pence is evil. But he doesn’t seem to confuse his own self regard with national security. Trump’s chaos may slow down the Repubs in some ways, but even ignoring the very real possibility that he’s owned by Putin Trump is simply too unstable to trust with a military.

  • Dennis Orphen

    This question is the polar opposite of Beatles or Stones. I pine for simpler times.

  • GFW

    Timing matters. The GOP would want to replace Trump with Pence such that there was enough time for the impeachment to no longer be headlining news by the next election(*), but also so there *isn’t* enough time for the “new President” shine to wear off and for people to realize just how awful Pence is. Obviously I hope that doesn’t work, but it’s definitely worth some analysis, given that Democrats might have a shot at influencing the timing.

    Anybody have any ideas what ideal timing for GOP and ideal timing for Dems looks like?

    (*) I don’t even know whether they’d be targeting 2018 or 2020 in such a plan. That likely depends on events.

    • Marshall_timbers

      How does gutting Obamacare/Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security/etc fit into that? In other words, their basic legislative goals?

      • GFW

        Well, if the voters are dumb enough, the GOP does that gutting while Trump is president, and then try to wash off both stinks at the same time. I want to think that’s impossible to pull off, but maybe with the right timing …

        • LosGatosCA

          #1: The voters are that dumb – McConnell and Trump have conclusively proved that
          #2: Just like they blamed W for doing exactly what they wanted, Trump will be the fall guy (impeached or not)

          The Democrats need to be focusing on gumming up the works at every point and don’t worry about Trump’s issues with his party because they won’t be that significant on the things that matter.

          • Thom

            They even blamed Obama for doing what they wanted, ie the sequester.

    • science_goy

      Best case for Dems: Outrageous, clearly impeachable scandal breaks mid-2018, a few GOP Senators defect but not enough to convict, general chaos and tanking approval numbers leads to Dems winning at least one branch of Congress, Trump removed early 2019 and Dems block Pence’s agenda for the remainder of his term.

      Best case for GOP: Things more or less reach equilibrium for the next couple years, GOP retains House and Senate in 2018, scandal breaks early 2019 that forces Trump’s resignation or impeachment, Pence rides wave of relief and relative popularity to implement enough voter suppression measures to pretty much guarantee GOP victory in 2020.

      That’s my off-the-cuff take, anyway.

      • alexceres

        Pity the second is far far more likely than the first.

        • SNF

          What makes you say that?

  • Gwen

    Do you have any thoughts on the SSC-8?

  • efgoldman

    Am I seeing things, or did you change the picture?

    The thing is, the more people know Pence, the more they grow to loath him. Orangemandyas threw him a lifeline. His popularity in deep red Indiana was cratering, and his Republiklown (formerly Lieutenant) Governor and legislature can’t undo the damage in the state quickly enough.

    I’m not sure the comparison to Gerry Ford is valid. Ford was an old line traditional (somewhat conservative but also sane) politician. Pence is a chistofascist, which Ford definitely was not. Ford, like most Republicans of the time, would have no place in today’s party.

  • Ronan

    A hypothetical Pence admin serves the whole term though? There’s no realistic (or actual?) possibility of an early election independently of impeachment/death?

    • rewenzo

      I don’t think there’s any provision at all for an early Presidential election, no matter what happens.

      It used to be, by statute, that if the Presidency passed down the line of succession further than the Vice President, that there would have to be a special election but I believe we got rid of it.

      • Ronan

        Interesting, thanks.

    • science_goy

      The way the system is set up, no. Pence replaces Trump and nominates his own VP, who’s confirmed by Congress. If Pence dies/resigns/gets impeached, his VP becomes President and the cycle continues.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Unless there isn’t time, or Congress doesn’t like his VP choices, in which case if Pence goes we’ve got Granny Starver for President.

        It’s assholes all the way down.

        • LosGatosCA

          It’s always been that way with the Republicans – Hastert and Gingrich were your most recent choices for succession if the POTUS/VPOTUS went down.

        • William Berry

          What if it happened after the 2018 CEs and Pelosi was next in line?

          Can you imagine the convulsions of (almost certainly violent) outrage that would wrack the entire Nation of Repugnistan?

          • Abbey Bartlet

            Technically the House can appoint anyone it wants as Speaker. Theoretically, they could get him impeached and convicted, get Pence impeached, and while the Senate is voting Nancy could quietly resign, and the House Dems could nominate someone else, like a former Secretary of State.

            What? If we’re going to fantasize…

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      There are not even any *unrealistic* possibilities of an early election. Presidential elections are on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November every four years and AT NO OTHER TIME EVER.

      It literally cannot happen.

  • rewenzo

    Polarization, and the fact that Pence is more identified with Trump than Ford was with Nixon, will make such improvement impossible, but there would still likely be some increase. Such a move might do significant damage to the party, in so far as it would alienate Trump’s hardcore supporters (and unless he goes to prison*, Trump will presumably be vocal and angry about his dismissal).

    Yeah, I’ve made clear my reasoning for why I just don’t see Republican-led impeachment as an eventuality with a serious chance of success. I think this section here highlights why today is different than Nixon’s day.

    Something else to keep in mind is that the Republicans could have tried to end Trump during the primary but could not muster either the courage or the resolve to even make an attempt. There was a barely anemic attempt during the campaign after the pussy tape. If they weren’t able to do it then, back when they thought Trump would doom them politically, I just don’t see how they do it now that (1) they are on the verge of their dreams coming true and (2) Trump has the military and law enforcement swearing blood oaths to him.

    I’m trying to imagine what a Trump investigation could find that would justify impeachment to Republicans, a group of people who thought his press conference on Thursday was a virtuous display. It wold have to be something like an affidavit stating “I, Donald Trump, swear allegiance to President Putin and his glorious new regime.”

    ETA: And I don’t think such a smoking gun exists. It’ll probably be something like “Yeah if you help me win the election I’ll help you out with sanctions or whatever.”

    • CP

      Yep.

      The base loves Trump. The GOP needs the base. End of story. He’s not getting impeached.

      • LosGatosCA

        Their only hope is a non-poltiical scandal so severe even the base thinks he needs to resign.

        I don’t know if a live boy AND a dead woman on a Russian tape is enough.

        The solution set seems to be null on impeachment or resignation.

        But if I was Trump’s food taster I’d be very, very, very nervous.

        Stroking out seems to be the most obvious end game short of serving out his term.

        • N__B

          A stroke or a full-blown meltdown in public. “CNN said I’m not qualified for the job. Look at his bigly qualified I am:” [drops pants]

        • Richard Gadsden

          There are things that he could be impeached for. But I don’t think he’s done them.

          For example, a tape of him raping his daughter.

          • SNF

            You really think that would make Republicans turn on Trump?

  • russiannavyblog

    I’ll wager Mike Pence – who was number 3 in the House leadership at one time – is whipping impeachment votes on the down low as we speak.

  • JBC31187

    I don’t doubt that Pence would boost the GOP’s image in the short term- most of my family is of the “let them die/bomb the Middle East” style of Republican, and they’re so sure that Trump will be impeached and replaced. But I think the 2016 tragedy was due to voter apathy and ignorance, and I’m slightly hopeful that, barring nuclear holocaust or the military shooting up marchers, they’ve learned their fucking lesson. The days after Trump’s election were filled with stories of Planned Parenthood and ACA fans who suddenly realized that they voted for a Republican; I think they’ll see Pence for what he is.

    • rewenzo

      I think if Trump was impeached, the Democrats would be in a fantastic position. This isn’t like Nixon, where everybody could legitimately feign surprise when they discovered what Nixon had done. Trump has been loudly and clearly declaring his unfitness for office for over a year before the election, and many Congressional Republicans are on the record saying very choice (negative) things about him, and many Congressional Republicans are also now on record denying any need to look into his many obvious scandals. Pence and Ryan and others have been on the record defending Trump’s character and morals as well. There’s no way for them to thread this needle. If Trump goes down, they go down.

      • JBC31187

        What I mean is, 2016 happened because not enough voters took their responsibilities or their fucking personal safety seriously, and now we’re all in danger. And even the people like me who did the bare minimum (vote for Clinton, vote every two years) weren’t doing enough. So, now there’s marches and donation drives and meeting with representatives. If they keep it up, and stick together, and don’t decide we’ve won forever if/when we win one victory, we can survive the coming century, even if the Republicans rally.

        • humanoid.panda

          +100.

          Also, even in the very short run, resisting Trump matters. To push through Ryan’s agenda, the GOP needed total unity, cowed and depressed Democrats, and media tut-tutting that Democrats Must Respect Vote of the People. The woman’s march, and the response it forced from Trump, stopped all that in its tracks.

      • Spider-Dan

        I disagree for exactly that reason: people knew what Trump was and voted for him anyway, which means they can’t feign shock and outrage in the case of a predictable scandal.

        For example, videotape of him grabbing a woman by the pussy would be nearly useless, whereas it would be a thermonuclear weapon against any other politician.

  • Captain Oblivious

    Just because Pence claims to have been out of the loop doesn’t mean he was. I don’t know why we should take his word for it.

    • science_goy

      Not sure that anyone here is truly “taking his word for it,” but as a longtime politician Pence almost certainly knows how to maintain plausible deniability and keep any evidence to the contrary off the record.

      • humanoid.panda

        Thing is, given the prevalence of leaks and factional fighting in the WH, it might be hard to him to do so..

        • wendigo

          They seem to be going way out of their way to tell anyone who will listen that Pence was lied to and completely out of the loop. They are acting against type by voluntarily revealing any inside info, and they clearly need a safe fall-back position, so him not knowing about the contacts doesn’t pass the smell test for me.

        • Shalimar

          I’m guessing that if Pence were informed, it was by a loyalist like Priebus who won’t rat him out. He wasn’t going to White House meetings with Bannon and a dozen other people where Trump hashed out how to handle the Flynn situation.

  • Nick never Nick

    One variable to remember in all of this is that Russia probably has a large number of RNC emails from the campaign, probably going back as far as the primary. These almost certainly include high-level Republicans commenting on Trump and Trump voters in highly negative, probably crude ways. Releasing these could do an immense amount of damage to Trump’s hard-core support, which is probably a plurality of Republican voters.

    Trump isn’t only a dangling liability that can be cut free at any point — I am sure that he has levers of his own.

    • humanoid.panda

      The thing is that, unless Trump really is a Russian agent of some sort (something I still consider very unlikely) it’s not the like the Russians are married . It might very well be in their interests to prefer a total chaos and paralysis that impeachment will bring over Trump trying to push through a great alliance over the objection of both congressional republicans and the Pentagon. As a matter of fact, Russian media had recently cooled to Trump, significantly..

      • AMK

        The Kremlin probably knows enough about American politics to know that Trump dropping sanctions and delcaring a grand alliance with Russia would be the single fastest way to generate enough GOP opposition to make impeachment a real possibility–and Trump probably knows he has no room to do this outright. But the goal of creating major uncertainty in the Western alliance system has already been achieved…anything else they get is just icing on the cake at this point.

        • humanoid.panda

          Sure! But you know what’s even better than this? Total policy paralysis in DC..

          • AMK

            It would be domestic policy paralysis. It’s not like lengthy, scandalous impeachment proceedings would change the default anti-Russia positions of the Pentagon or intel community.

      • DrDick

        I would agree with this and have bought the idea of Trump as a Russian agent, useful idiot and patsy, yes.

        • AMK

          I certainly think his campaign colluded with the Russians with his knowledge. Whether the dossier allegations of him being groomed by the FSB for 5 years are true…who knows.

          • humanoid.panda

            I would agree with this and have bought the idea of Trump as a Russian agent, useful idiot and patsy, yes.

            Um, Russian agent, useful idiot, and patsy are three different things..

            • LosGatosCA

              But unwiiting Russian agent who is also a useful idiot who will be the patsy/fall guy who gets the blame for implementing the exact policies the base wants is a very plausible scenario.

            • DrDick

              That should have read “have not bought the idea of Trump”. I do not think the Russians are dumb enough to actually trust him.

              • LosGatosCA

                The only people who trust Trump are the marks.

                That leaves the Republican base, Jay Gould Army volunteers.

                To every one else he’s either a useful tool, a sideshow, or an impediment for exposing the racism, misogyny, other assorted bigotries and Fascism behind the Republican curtain.

                He’s clearly not a reliable ally to anyone.

  • cleter

    If it’s Russian election tampering that brings Trump down, well, that same tainted election elected Pence.

    Democrats need to start framing it as “Trump-Pence campaign ties to Russia” and “Trump-Pence administration scandals.” Don’t talk about Trump’s problems, talk about the Trump-Pence administration’s problems.

    • Phil Perspective

      Don’t talk about Trump’s problems, talk about the Trump-Pence administration’s problems.

      They aren’t going to impeach him. And if both are impeached at the same time, you get President Zombie-eyed Granny-starver. Which means that Chuck Toddler and Ezra Klein will be slobbering like hungry dogs.

      • junker

        Pence doesn’t need to be impeached for it to be useful to tie Trump together with him.

      • cleter

        I don’t think they’ll impeach him either, but I think Democrats should be pro-active in not letting Pence carve out a little safe space for himself.

  • Crusty

    I prefer Pence to trump because pence doesn’t have the mango Mussolini charisma/utter shamelessness to say the quiet parts out loud that trump has and will not inspire as much GOP/trump-idiot turnout.

    • humanoid.panda

      This is a nice theory and all, but let’s be serious here: before the election, Hillary was second most unpopular candidate in American political history. Any old republican, especially someone like Jeb#, Rubio or Kasich, who all would have been fluffed by media, would have defeated her decisively.

      • Thom

        Evidence? The only evidence we have, the election of Nov 2016, is that she could be defeated extremely narrowly, by a charismatic non-politician. In this narrow defeat, she got nearly 3M more votes than her opponent.

        • Abbey Bartlet

          This.

          My theory is that since apparently the Republicans running an openly racist/sexist/antisemitic/xenophobic/Islamophobic/etc/etc, unstable, unqualified candidate didn’t turn out Dem-leaners the way it should have, and apparently literally nothing will dissuade the GOP base, any other Republican and she wins.

          Burubisch wasn’t going to turn out all the angry people who don’t normally bother to vote. Nor was he necessarily going to get all the Obama->Orange voters. And I suspect there would have been less confidence on the left.

          Plus, she could have run an actual campaign, rather than just trying to get the media to pay attention to her for five fucking seconds.

          • Marshall_timbers

            You are criticizing Hillary for not running a campaign?

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Yes, I am known around here for my many criticisms of Hillary Clinton.

      • busker type

        I’m genuinely unsure about this… would a mainstream republican who didn’t play the race card at every conceivable opportunity have beaten Clinton? Maybe. We’ll never know.

      • Dilan Esper

        Hillary wasn’t popular, but she campaigned well, especially in the debates, and was running against a celebrity, and people like voting for celebrities. And it was a narrow loss anyway.

        I have all sorts of issues with Hillary Clinton (including some mistakes I feel her campaign made), but it is totally unfair to say she loses to any generic Republican.

      • cleter

        Bush would not have gotten the 80k or so midwestern voters who wanted a non-politician to upend the system and stick it to the establishment or whatever. And he wouldn’t have had the sort of debate meltdowns that made Clinton think she could expand the electoral map in places like Arizona, so Clinton would have been focusing on core states that would get her to 270.

        The popular vote would’ve been closer, but Clinton probably would’ve gotten 279 or so, and Republicans on all the Sunday chat shows would now be talking about how the narrowness of her win makes her less legitimate and certainly means she can’t appoint any SCOTUS justices, while Trump and his supporters howled into the wind that they were robbed.

        • so-in-so

          You assume that it being closer did not mean that Comey’s ratfucking would be at least as effective?

  • Abbey Bartlet

    Um. Um. Um. This thread. Can we discuss this thread. Off-topic. But. Um. Um. Um.

    • efgoldman

      Um. Um. Um. This thread. Can we discuss this thread. Off-topic. But. Um. Um. Um.

      You mean that christofascists and jeebus freeks are the most gullible people on earth?

      • Abbey Bartlet

        I’m more appalled by the utter, insane level of incompetence that allowed this.

        • humanoid.panda

          Is it though? How many people watched a bunch of black people supporting Trump on TV, and how many are going to discover their website?

        • Phil Perspective

          Why is it incompetence? Trump got what he was looking for out of it. Meaning he’ll now claim his support isn’t just old white rich people.

          • Dilan Esper

            During the campaign, Trump autographed a “LGBT for Trump” rainbow sign on television after one of his rallies.

            I actually took that as a bit of a sign of progress. Sure it was cynically political, but do you think any previous Republican candidate would have ever gone there?

            • so-in-so

              It’s not “progress”, it’s Trump not caring in the least as long as his name goes on something. I wouldn’t be totally shocked by his autographing a “Ready For Her” bumper sticker. It doesn’t mean he won’t also autograph a bill that allows draconian measures against LGBTQ people if the right people tell him it will make him so popular…

              • Dilan Esper

                Actually we already have evidence that Trump’s policies will be less anti-gay than previous Republicans. A draft executive order was rejected.

                • Barry_D

                  “Actually we already have evidence that Trump’s policies will be less anti-gay than previous Republicans. A draft executive order was rejected.”

                  After the Muslim ban, they might have been holding their fire for a bit.

    • David Allan Poe

      Somebody’s never spent any time with their Hal Lindsey.

      This is pretty run-of-the-mill for those guys.

  • humanoid.panda

    The Dems have been running away from that idea as fast as their tiny little cocktail weenie circuit engorged legs will carry them since Carter.

    There is a fallacy here that explains why impeachment is highly, highly unlikely. Sure, if Trump goes is persuaded to go quietly, and maybe giving a speech about how will Pence will make America great again, Pence would enjoy a surge of popularity that will help his push through agenda. But any possible impeachment will be lengthy, ugly, and will cause Trump to lash out at the GOP with a fury of million suns. There is simply no way that president Pence, presiding over a divided party that sees the midterm coming is going to be able to muster votes for Ryan’s unpopular agenda.

    • AMK

      The media would pat itself on the back for saving the republic from Trump and crank the fawning over “responsible” Pence and Ryan up to 11. And much of Ryan’s agenda can be passed with bare-majority reconciliation bills.

      • humanoid.panda

        There is no way to tell, but there was a reason why Ryan wanted to ram his agenda via reconcillaition bills within 60 days Trump being inaugurated- that sort of stuff is much easier done with 20 months to the next election than six. Add to this the complicating factor of Trump bellowing that Ryan is an enemy of the people to his followers, and I don’t see anyone rushing any major transformations.

  • Morbo

    And what are the odds of some form of civil war if the demagogue doesn’t get to finish his term?

    • alexceres

      Pretty much nonexistent. He’s loathed by the establishment, and it’d be the republicans putting down their own rabid monster. The DOD isn’t going to back a Russian patsy without congress going along. Plus the DOD has to know the army is 100x too small to occupy the country with hostility. Civil war is lose-lose.

      But as a number of folks have said, he’s not getting impeached. They couldn’t do it in the primaries, they can’t do it now. The man brags about raping women on tape and nobody cares. The only way he doesn’t finish his term is if he strokes out.

  • Redwood Rhiadra

    You seriously underestimate the number of Trump supporters in Congress. There are at least 50-odd dedicated Tea Partiers in Congress currently (judging by the rosters of the House Freedom Caucus and the Liberty Caucus), and I’m pretty sure they all prefer Trump to Pence.

    • humanoid.panda

      Nah. That’s a misreading republican inner politics . His earliest and strongest congressional supporters tended to be ” moderates” while the TP was skeptical of him because not real conservative

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Except do congressional Tea Partiers support Trump on anything outside the traditional Republican platform other than immigration? Protectionism and being friendlier with Russia weren’t part of the Tea Party platform. If Pence were to commit to continuing the crack down on immigration, I’m not sure how many of the congressional Tea Partiers would stick with Trump.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        Yes, protectionism is quite popular in the Tea Party:

        While tea party members embrace free markets, limited government, and reduced federal meddling, some tea party leaders have openly questioned the benefits of free-trade agreements such as NAFTA and a recently reached deal between the United States and South Korea.

        The majority of the movement’s rank and file seems to share that skepticism. Recent polls by the Pew Research Center and NBC News found that more than 60 percent of tea party members hold a negative view of free trade and trade agreements — a higher share than is found among Republicans or the population as a whole.

        (from Cato – which I ordinarily wouldn’t trust, but they do have a fair idea of what their own side believes, and I’ve seen other sources indicating that Tea Partiers lean towards protectionism.)

        And in my experience Tea Partiers LOVE Putin. He’s a macho manly authoritarian who pushes all their buttons and gets them excited. So it may not be part of their official platform, but they’re all in favor of being friendlier with Russia.

  • fledermaus

    The real problem is, when/if Pense replaces Trump he will be welcomed by the press and assocoated lackies as the second coming of Washington/Reagan/Jebus. Get ready for the press to fall to their knees in apprication “The grown-up are in charge again, he kept us safe, etc” They will make sure we have another decade of GOP dominance if they do impeach trump

    • humanoid.panda

      you guys never tire of inventing scenarios where we are destroyed by the almighty republicans are you? Because if the ” Trump declares himself president for life and army and police support him ” storyline at lest has internal coherence . ”
      the GOP tearing itself to shreds is how it’s going to totally destroy us ” sure doesn’t

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        The very fact that Trump is President proves we pessimists WERE FUCKING RIGHT.

  • TaxesMyCredulity

    What if truly explosive info ends up coming out of the Russia/trump connection sufficient to establish the election itself was, in essence, illegal? That would seem to take out both 44.5 & Pence. Would we just be stuck for 4 years with Ryan as POTUS? Could a special presidential election be called sooner? [Farfetchedness becomes easier to consider as each day goes by.]

    • cleter

      There is absolutely no mechanism for a special election. The next presidential election is 2020. Period.

  • DFH no.6

    Ah, Odysseus caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Nicely done with the picture, Mr. Farley.

    If the only hope now is “heightening the contradictions” (as seems likely, however scant that hope — and I’d say it’s pretty damn scant) then I’ll go with Trump over Pence for the head/desk “showmanship” factor.

    As many here (and elsewhere) have stated, it’s almost certain we’re stuck with Trump for the full term anyway, unless he keels over dead beforehand of whatever (pick a cause, I don’t care, the more horrible the better I suppose).

  • Spoffin

    Am I nuts for thinking that the sweet spot might be a long, drawn out impeachment attempt that fails, barely? I feel like this might give months and months of an angry, lame duck president Trump tearing through the Republican party to the substantial woe of them both.

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