The only honest thing about Pence last Wednesday night was the fly on his head.
From the moment he was tapped to be Donald Trump’s second-in-command, Mike Pence has served a single purpose: To put a placid, half-way respectable face on the disastrous, cruel policies of his boss. And that’s exactly what he did last night. Pence lied just like his boss, he flouted the debate rules like his boss, he evaded hard questions like his boss.
1. And just like Trump last week, Pence refused to condemn white supremacy.
After Harris highlighted Trump’s 2017 comments characterizing neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people”, Pence attacked the media and tried to justify Trump’s despicable remarks. He touted the fact that Trump has Jewish grandchildren, as an apparent excuse for Trump’s repeated refusal to condemn white supremacy and tackle the lethal threat it poses. He concluded his non-answer by omitting any outright condemnation of white supremacy—instead claiming, outrageously, that systemic racism doesn’t exist.
2. He said he hoped Amy Coney Barrett would get a “fair hearing.”
As Kamala Harris pointed out, 4 million people have already voted in this election and 56 percent of Americans think the winner should fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Meanwhile, Pence’s boss has instructed Senate Republicans to stop negotiations over the stimulus, so Republicans can focus on ramming through Trump’s nominee, after they refused to give Obama’s nominee a vote for 293 days. There’s nothing fair about this process—and Pence knows it.
3. He doubled-down on Trump’s dangerous conspiracy theories.
When asked about Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, he rehashed Trump’s conspiracies about impeachment and the Russia investigation, and pushed Trump’s absurd claim that mail-in voting creates a “massive opportunity for fraud.” Rubbish. The right-wing Heritage Foundation, after examining 36 years of mail-in ballots, found only 1,285 cases of voter fraud out of nearly two billion votes cast—a rate of .0000007 percent.
4. Most importantly, Pence refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if Trump loses. This is a worrisome sign of what may be to come.
Throughout the entire debate, Pence talked over Kamala Harris and moderator Susan Page—who allowed him to go way overtime, avoid her questions, and lie endlessly. He showed utter contempt for the debate process. He even had the gall to demand Harris answer his own questions—in typical misogynistic fashion—even as he repeatedly evaded the moderator’s questions.
Make no mistake: Pence is a slick version of Trump, and just as dangerous as the liar-in-chief.
This post originally appeared at RobertReich.org.
Robert B. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley and former secretary of labor under the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, was released in 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @RBReich.