Pence no longer is Trump’s vice president, but he’s still Trump’s most ardent boot licker | Opinion

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Michael McGough
·3 min read
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Last month I wrote about how former Vice President Mike Pence, while he may have been a potential target of the Jan 6. Capitol insurrectionists, was no hero.

Pence abetted then-President Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election, praising an ill-fated lawsuit filed by Texas in the Supreme Court seeking to overturn election results in four states. “God bless Texas!” he told a rally in Georgia.

Then, on Jan. 6, in a statement in which he declined Trump’s plea to overturn election by refusing to count Biden’s electoral votes in several states, Pence included this consolation prize for Trump and his base: “After an election with significant allegations of voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election.”

Pence is still at it.

In a characteristically unctuous op-ed published Wednesday in the Daily Signal, Pence attacks HR 1, the omnibus political-reform bill pending in the House. That’s his prerogative, and it’s not surprising that he would be in lockstep with other members of his party who oppose “nationalizing” elections.

But Pence links his opposition to the bill to what I like to call the Little Lie about the 2020 election: not that the election was elaborately rigged (as Trump claimed in his Big Lie), but that its integrity is questionable because of pandemic-inspired changes in election procedures.

In his op-ed, Pence repeats the claim about “significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law.”

Pence also suggests bizarrely that the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6 “deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.” No such substantive discussion was ever in the cards because there was no serious argument that the election was fraudulent or invalid.

Pence salutes efforts by “legislators in many states” to “restore public confidence in state elections.” Of course, much of the lack of confidence in last year’s elections was stoked by Trump and his allies’ baroque and specious claims of widespread fraud. And the changes being pushed by Republican state legislators would make it harder for people (especially Democrats) to vote.

For a brief moment this year, even some Democrats — for tactical purposes — embraced the idea that Pence was a man of honor, and not a Trump toady. But that praise was misplaced.

To paraphrase Trump’s description of the death toll from COVID-19, Pence is what he is. Namely, he is a loyalist who continues to do Trump’s dirty work by sowing doubt about “election integrity.”

Ironically, Pence’s continued efforts to cast doubt on the 2020 election may not ensure that Trump will retain him as a running mate if the former president runs in 2024. Bloomberg News reports that Trump’s advisers have been discussing a female or Black running mate for Trump.

That possibility makes Pence’s latest pronouncements more pathetic, but no less offensive.

Michael McGough is the Los Angeles Times’ senior editorial writer, based in Washington, D.C.

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